University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Region: Europe / Mediterranean


Secrets of Ancient Magic

The Power of Spells, Curses, & Omens

By: Kate Murphy & Cynthia Susalla

In ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, practitioners of magic exploited symbolic words, images, and rituals to achieve desired outcomes through supernatural means. Using magical acts, they attempted to control supernatural powers— gods, demons, spirits, or ghosts—to accomplish something beyond the scope of human capabilities. The exhibition Magic in the Ancient World, now at the […]


Lisbon: Rich in History and Culture

Photo of tile- monkey riding a horse
Fieldtrip

By: Janet Simon

Today’s visitors to the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon see striking evidence of a glorious past. At the height of Portugal’s power during the 15th-century Age of Discovery, her explorers sailed all over the world under Prince Henry the Navigator. Portugal’s strategic position at the western end of the Mediterranean resulted in the sea having […]


Architectural Conservation at Gordion

By: Elisa Del Bono

Following the preservation policy of many Mediterranean countries, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Turkey requires the directors of archaeological projects to focus not only on excavation but also on archaeological conservation and site improvement for visitors. From 2006 to 2014, this work at Gordion was conducted under the auspices of the Architectural Conservation […]


The Myth of Midas’ Golden Touch

By: Anastasia Amrhein and Patricia Kim and Lucas Stephens and Jane Hickman

Gold has been used to create objects of beauty across the ages, conferring a high level of status on those who own it. In some cultures, gold has spiritual and even magical qualities. As a raw material or manufactured object, gold also plays an important role in understanding ancient trade. Gold luxury objects and coins […]


The Role of Science

in Gordion’s Archaeology

By: Gareth Darbyshire

Gordion is an unusually large and complex archaeological site, the product of its over 4,000-year occupation history. Rising 16 meters (50 feet) above the surrounding plain, it measured about 4 km (2.5 miles) across in the time of Midas. Investigating a site of this magnitude is an enormous challenge, and over the last six decades […]


A Day in the Life

The 2015 Field Season

By: AYŞE GÜRSAN-SALZMANN

Any description of life at Gordion must begin with the dig house, the center of archaeological activity now just as it was when it was built in the 1950s. The two-story house sits on a slight rise, looking out over a landscape of tumuli and irrigated fields of wheat, sugar beet, and onions. Like most […]


The People & Products of Colonization

Africa at the Chicago and Paris Expositions

By: Dwaune Latimer

Arican exhibits at world’s fairs— including both native peoples and the objects of their daily life— provided American and European visitors to fairs with an opportunity to see cultures vastly different from their own. Some ethnographic exhibits supported the idea of the “other,” providing evidence of diverse “exotic” groups that had their own distinct cultures. […]


“…Very Best Inspirations of the Past”

The Wanamaker Bronzes

By: Ann Blair Brownlee and Lynn Makowsky

For more than 50 years, visitors to the Penn Museum have been welcomed by a large bronze classical statue, a copy of a work known as the Borghese Satyr, which stands near the reflecting pool in the Warden Garden. is striking figure—with the equine tail and ears characteristic of the part animal, part human mythological […]


Around the World

The Penn Museum’s curators, staff, and consulting scholars conduct research around the world. Read on for a small sampling of their work from this past year. Southwest Utah Robert L. Schuyler, Ph.D., Associate Curator-in-Charge, Historical Archaeology Section The Silver Reef Project—excavation of a 19th-century mining ghost town— has been active over the last 30 years. […]


From Homework to Fieldwork: Summer 2014 Student Projects

Around the World

The Penn Museum encourages and supports student research projects. In 2014, we funded 35 students (23 graduate students, 12 undergraduate students) in their fieldwork in 15 different countries. Five of these students share their summer projects. Molyvoti, Thrace Archaeological Project By Samuel Holzman, Graduate Student in Art And Archaeology of The Mediterranean World (AAMW) During […]