University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Region: Near East

Middle East Galleries: Textile Rotations

photos of objetcs
Gallery Sneak Peek

The Middle East Galleries will contain a case featuring rotating collections of textiles, thanks to support from the Coby Foundation (see “The New Penn Museum: Transformation Update”). In particular, the Museum holds two remarkable textile collections that will be showcased. The first, from the 16th and 17th centuries, includes extraordinary luxury fabrics like NEP6 (at […]

Lovers, Friends, or Strangers?

Photo of skeletons
New Thoughts on a Museum Icon

By: Page Selinsky

Archaeology is compelling, in part, because it provides a connection to people of times past. It allows us to step out of ourselves and, for a moment, envision what life was like in a different time and place. There are, however, many basic human needs, such as food, shelter, and interpersonal relationships, that span time […]

City of the Moon

photo of object
New Excavations at Ur

By: William B. Hafford

The ancient city of Ur was dedicated to the Sumerian moon god—today it resembles a lunar landscape. From 1922 to 1934 the Penn Museum and the British Museum jointly excavated portions of the site, but the massive mound containing 5,000 years of history has lain largely untouched for the last 80 years. In 2015, a […]

Ancient Lineages

photo of village
Reconstructing the Genetic History of Svaneti, Northwest Georgia

By: Aram Yardumian and Theodore G. Schurr and Ramaz Shengelia and Davit Chitanava and Shorena Laliashvili and Lia Bitadze and Irma Laliashvili

At the dawn of the common era, the Greek historian and geographer Strabo composed brief descriptions of the numerous tribes living and trading at Eastern Black Sea ports for his encyclopedic work Geographica. Among them, he wrote, “Are the Soanes, who are…superior…in power…and hold possession of the heights of the caucasus above Dioscurias. The mountainous […]

Report from the Field – In the Mountains, between Empires

photo of people on hill
Notes From the Lerik in Antiquity Archaeological Project

By: Susannah Fishman and Jeyhun Eminli and Lara Fabian and Emil Iskenderov

The first season of the collaborative Azerbaijani-American Lerik in Antiquity Archaeological Project (LAAP), co-directed by Ph.D. student Lara Fabian (Penn AAMW), recent graduate Dr. Susannah Fishman (Penn Anthropology), and Dr. Jeyhun Eminli (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences), was funded by the Kolb Foundation, and supported by the Institute of Archaeology […]

Middle East Galleries: Conserving the Ubaid Standing Bull

Gallery Sneak Peek

Though Leonard Woolley’s excavations at Ur are his most famous, this is not the only site he explored during his expeditions to Iraq. In 1923–24, Woolley excavated the nearby site of Tell al-‘Ubaid, where he uncovered the remains of an Early Dynastic IIIB temple (2400–2350 BCE) dedicated to the goddess Ninhursag. It was adorned with […]

Palmyra 1885

The Photographs of John Henry Haynes

By: Robert Ousterhout

“We pitched our tent by the little sun temple,” wrote John Henry Haynes, as his party arrived at Palmyra in April 1885, “setting our table within its sacred precincts.” Nearing the end of their journey, Haynes and his companions had spent the previous months traversing Mesopotamia, looking for a suitable site for an American excavation—this […]

Aegean Dyes

photo of painting
Unearthing the Colors of Ancient Minoan Textiles

By: Marie Nicole Pareja and Philip P. Betancourt and Vili Apostolakou and Thomas M. Brogan and Andrew J. Koh

Bronze Age Clothing in Minoan Crete was multicolored and made from intricately woven textiles. Until now, our only evidence related to the colors in the textiles came from the study of costume in wall paintings. Fortunately, recent research has revealed that several different dyes were produced in Minoan Crete. Clothing is depicted in frescoes and […]

Secrets of Ancient Magic

The Power of Spells, Curses, & Omens

By: Kate Murphy and 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 […]

Sowing the Seeds of Competitive Play

Photograph of Doug Polumbaum and Risa Korris
The Enduring Legacy of Mancala

By: Kristen Pearson

Mancala has been popular in the United States since a commercialized version was intro- duced in the 1940s under the brand name Kalah. This version of the game is simple to learn and is played on a small, plain wooden board with two rows of six pockets and a set of flat marbles to use […]