University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology

Region: Near East

Archaeology in the Digital Age

Creating an Online Research Tool for the Ancient City of Ur

By: W. B. Hafford

One of the first true cities in the world and probably the site described in the Bible as the home of the patriarch Abraham, Ur is a place of countless stories, both ancient and modern. The goal of the project entitled Ur of the Chaldees: A Virtual Vision of Woolley’s Excavations is to present the […]

Treasure Beneath the Floor

Museum Object Number: 31-50-212

By: Jane Hickman

Although the Monastery of Lady Mary is best known for its fine mosaics, another discovery awaited Fitzgerald’s team as they excavated the floor of Room H, a small room adjacent to the chapel. A gold chain and bracelet were recovered along with a cache of ten gold coins, a bronze censer, and other objects. The […]

Domestic Devotions in Late Antique Beth Shean

By: Jordan Pickett

A variety of objects found in the residential quarter testify to the expression of the Christian religious identity of the inhabitants, ranging from cross-shaped doorknockers to modest jewelry embellished with Christian symbols. Most intriguing are the souvenirs from pilgrimages to holy places, which would have figured into daily devotions or rituals of healing. Both the […]

Beth Shean Plan

Beth Shean Plan

Plan of Roman-Byzantine city of Beth Sheanor ancient Nysa-Scythopolis. After Mazor and Najjar, 2007, Plan 1.1. Civic center Tell Beth Shean Northeast (Damascus) city gate Northwest (Caesarea) city gate Southwest (Neapolis) city gate South (Jerusalem) city gate Southeast (Gerasa) city gate Samaritan synagogue Church of Andreas Church of the Martyr Monastery of Lady Mary Northern […]

Unearthing a Masterpiece – A Roman Mosaic from Lod Israel

Now in the Galleries

By: Rina Talgam

The renowned Lod Mosaic, excavated in 2009, is on exhibit at the Penn Museum through May 12, 2013. This is the Mosaic’s last stop in the United States, before it travels to Europe and then back to Israel. Rina Talgam, specialist in ancient wall paintings and mosaics, describes the context and the significance of the […]

Beth Shean Revisited

Reexamining a Late Antique City in Transition

By: Robert Ousterhout

Beth Shean (“house of ease”), ancient NysaScythopolis, sits on an important crossroads in the Galilee and is watered by abundant springs. It is known variously as Beit She’an, Bet She’an, Beth-Shan, Baysan, or Beisan — the name can be transliterated and spelled in a variety of different ways.Occupied as early as the 6thmillennium BCE, the […]

New Light on Daily Life at Beth Shean

By: Geoffrey Shamos

The Roman city of Scythopolis extended to the south of the tell, with broad colonnaded streets and large public buildings, including baths, a basilica, a theater, and an amphitheater. The monumental temple of Zeus Akrios, excavated by the Penn Museum team, was the only significant structure on the tell, apparently connected to the city below […]

Beth Shean Columns in Lower Egypt

Nicholas Harris points to the graffitied column in the Penn Museum Egypt (Sphinx) Gallery.

By: Nicholas Harris

The marble columns, majestic in their own right, contain a further curiosity: they are criss-crossed with Arabic and Hebrew graffiti. Column I carries two examples of Hebrew graffiti. One reads: “In the name of the Lord, we will d[o and will prosper].” Below this paraphrase of Gen. 39:23, commonly appearing at the beginning of Hebrew […]

Contextualizing Penn’s Excavations at Beth Shean


By: Jordan Pickett

When the dust had cleared from the devastation of World War I, the San Remo Conference of 1920 divided he remains of the broken Ottoman Empire. The conference recognized a British Mandate for Jordan-Palestine and Mesopotamia, a British Protectorate in Egypt, and a French Mandate for Syria. Consequently, European and American interest in archaeology in […]

The Visits of St. Sabas to Beth Shean

By: Gabriel Mazor

What did Beth Shean look like in Late Antiquity? We have a much more complete image of the city following the Israeli excavations at the civic center beneath the tell (1986–2000). For a tour of the Late Antique city, Gabriel Mazor, Director of the Bet She’an Archaeological Project, leads us in the footsteps of St. […]