University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology


Volume 54 : Articles

Women Archaeologists in the Early Days of the Museum

By: Alexandra Fleischman

A portrait of Sara Yorke Stevenson (1847–1921) hangs in the Penn Museum Archives, a tribute to this dynamic woman’s crucial role in the Museum’s history. The first Curator of the Egyptian and Mediterranean Sections and the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Penn (in 1894), she would later serve the Museum as Secretary, […]


The Adventure Continues

From the Director

By: Julian Siggers

A major anniversary is a wonderful reason for an institution to reflect on the people, events, and achievements that have brought it to where it is, but it is also a great opportunity to look forward. As the Penn Museum celebrates the 125th anniversary of its official founding on December 6, 1887, we are busy […]


Every Picture Tells a Story

From the Editor

By: Jane Hickman

When I began editing Expedition almost four years ago, I was unaware of the many wonderful stories associated with those who worked at the Museum, or the vast number of extraordinary objects on display and in our storerooms. Even as a graduate student at Penn, my research was generally confined to the Mediterranean and Near […]


The Granite Sphinx of Ramesses II

By: Jennifer H. Wegner

Excavated by W. M. Flinders Petrie in 1913 near the Ptah Temple at Memphis, the Penn Museum’s twelve-ton sphinx is the largest sphinx in the Western Hemisphere. The sphinx, a lion with a human head, represents the power of the Egyptian king. Carved of a single block of red granite, quarried at Aswan, the five-fold […]


A Telegram of Discovery from Ur

By: Alessandro Pezzati

On January 4, 1928, the Museum received a telegram from Leonard Woolley announcing his great find of the tomb of Queen Puabi, at that time translated as Queen Shubad. Not wanting to attract undue attention (because telegrams were transcribed by individuals), the message is written in Latin. The translation in pencil, below the Latin text, […]


Replicas of Famous Monuments of the Past

By: Alessandro Pezzati

Reproductions of famous monuments were an important part of the Museum’s educational mission in its early years, before the increasing number of original objects displaced the plaster and bronze replicas. In this photograph from 1905 are important plaster casts, including the frieze of the Parthenon. Bronze sculptures, reproductions of originals discovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum, […]


Schmidt at Tepe Hissar

By: Alessandro Pezzati

In 1931 Museum archaeologists were the first Americans to excavate in Persia (Iran), at the site of Tepe Hissar, under Erich F. Schmidt (1897–1964). A German who came to the United States in 1923, he was the archetypal archaeologist: brilliant, fearless, and tireless, though he had suffered an injury when imprisoned in Siberia during World […]


The Controversial Carleton Coon

By: Alessandro Pezzati

Carleton S. Coon (1904–1981) was a Curator and Professor at the University of Pennsylvania until his retirement in 1963. He had a colorful personality; he did not believe that scholars should be stuffy or pompous. That made him a fan-favorite on the Museum’s What in the World? television show. Coon was one of the last […]


John Cotter, Archaeologist of Philadelphia

By: Alessandro Pezzati

Though based in Philadelphia, the Penn Museum has often neglected the American past to search for places more distant in time and space. Charles C. Abbott and Henry C. Mercer excavated in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the 1890s, as did J. Alden Mason and others in later years, but it was not until John […]


The Purchase, Theft, and Recovery of the Crystal Ball

By: Alessandro Pezzati

The Chinese crystal sphere, on display in the Harrison Rotunda, has been an iconic object in the Museum since 1927, when it was purchased by Eldridge R. Johnson in memory of Museum Director George Byron Gordon. The 55 pounds of transparent quartz crystal is supposedly from the collections of the infamous Qing dynasty Empress Cixi […]