Through the generosity of Mr. John Wanamaker the Museum has acquired a number of rare ethnological specimens from different islands in the South Pacific formerly in the possession of Robert Louis Stevenson. Among these objects is one of the native. charts used by the Gilbert Islanders in navigating their ships from one group of islands to another.
The collections made by Dr. A. Donaldson Smith during his two African expeditions in the years 1895 and 1899 have just been acquired by the Museum. Among the tribes represented in these collections are the Magois, the Musha, the Akara and other inhabitants of the little known region between Lake Rudolf and the Nile.
The collections of Chinese art have been enriched by the purchase of two rare bronzes. One of these is a large wine jar in the form of the sacred ox inlaid with gold and silver and dating from the Chou dynasty; the other is a tall vase of the Han dynasty.
Two important Japanese sword blades have recently been purchased. Both are long swords (Katana). The longer of the two is inscribed on the iron of the hilt, “Made by Sadatsugu, in the province of Bittchiu, Second year of Kowa.” This date corresponds to 1081 A. D. The other blade, which is the more interesting of the two, is described by Mr. Bishop in this number of the JOURNAL. The blade is pronounced by the best authorities to be one of those forged by Masamune himself.
Dr. Farabee returned to Para early in December from an extended journey up the Amazon. During this journey he proceeded up the Javary River beyond Iquitos where he visited a number of tribes. The collections which he made during this trip have now reached the Museum. They consist of blowguns, bows and arrows, carved and painted paddles, ceremonial outfits, clothing, ornaments and utensils. The most striking group of objects in the collection is the highly artistic pottery made by the Conebo Indians. This pottery varies in size from that of a teacup to large jars four feet in diameter. All is decorated in geometric designs painted on the surface. The surface is also covered with a coat of transparent resinous substance which has the effect of a glaze.
Arrangements have been made to send an expedition to Egypt to conduct excavations and to study the archaeological remains. This expedition is to be known as the Eckley B. Coxe, Junior, Expedition, after the president of the Museum whose generosity has made the expedition possible. Mr. Clarence S. Fisher, curator of the Egyptian Section, left Philadelphia for Egypt early in November and arrived in Cairo on December 21st. He reports that conditions are quite satisfactory and favorable for conducting archaeological research. He has accordingly proceeded to make formal application for a site to excavate.
Preparations have been successfully concluded for sending an expedition to the interior of China for the purpose of studying Chinese culture in the earliest stages of its development and collecting data relative to the more primitive aboriginal cultures, some of which have survived the contact with Chinese civilization. Mr. C. W. Bishop, assistant curator of the Ethnological Section of the Museum, has been chosen for this work. Mr. Bishop will leave Philadelphia about the middle of January to begin his work in the Far East.
A letter has been received from Mr. H. U. Hall of the Siberian Expedition. This letter, which had been censored by the Russian authorities whose seal it bore, was dated on the Yenisei between Dudinka and Turukhausk, September 18th. Mr. Hall reports that he spent two months with the Samoyed, Yurok and Dolgan at their fishing camps near the mouth of the Yenisei. He planned to spend the winter with the Tungus between the Yenisei and the Lena.
By the will of the late Dr. Louis A. Duhring, the Museum will receive a sum approximating $200,000, to be used at the discretion of the Board of Managers. By vote of the Board of Managers, $25,000 of this sum will be applied towards the Building Fund and the balance will be added to the Endowment Fund of the Museum.
Mr. M. R. Harrington, assistant curator of the American Section, returned from Oklahoma early in December. The expedition of which Mr. Harrington was in charge and which was sent out by Mr. George G. Heye, vice-president of the Museum, was successful in locating and excavating a number of rock shelters and caves in the valley of the Grand River and the Cowskin River. Most of the time was occupied in excavating two rock shelters, one near Grove and one near Turkey Ford. These revealed two culture layers; the lower contained no pottery and was characterized by relatively large flint points; the upper layer contained pottery and small, finely shaped flint points. The collections obtained by Mr. Harrington, which will be added to the Heye collections, will illustrate an earlier and a later culture of northeastern Oklahoma.
During the month of December, Dr. Arno Poebel’s books embodying the result of his researches in the Babylonian Section of the Museum have been issued. This important contribution to the history of ancient Babylonia appeared in three volumes entitled “Historical and Grammatical Texts.” One of these volumes contains the plates and the other two contain Dr. Poebel’s transcriptions and translations of selected documents. It was his purpose to continue his transcriptions and translations to include a much larger number, but his work was interrupted by his call to Europe just prior to the outbreak of the war. Many documents are therefore published in the volume of plates which are not treated by Dr. Poebel in his writings. These, as well as the documents discussed by Dr. Poebel, are made available to scholars everywhere in the volume of plates which contain Dr. Poebel’s copies of one hundred and fifty-eight cuneiform tablets, most of which are in the Sumerian language.
The British School of Archaeology in Egypt has assigned to the Museum twelve objects of the Twelfth Dynasty obtained in the excavations of 1913-14 at Memphis.
Through the Egypt Exploration Fund the Museum has received a series of predynastic implements from the excavations made under the auspices of the Fund during the season 1913-14.
Ninety-eight specimens consisting of basketry, ornaments, clothing and utensils of the Indians of California have been added to the Thomas H. Powers Collection.
Mr. George G. Heye has just acquired and added to the Heye collection in the Museum an Osage Indian medicine tattoo outfit that has been till now in the possession of the tribe. Only three of these outfits are known to exist. One was formerly in a private collection in New York and after the death of the owner was sold to a German Museum, the second was acquired about a year ago by the United States National Museum in Washington, the third and best of the lot is now incorporated in the Heye Collection.
Miss Meta C. Biddle and Miss Jane Biddle have presented to the Museum a collection of implements and ornaments from Fiji obtained by their father, Captain James S. Biddle, U. S. N., during cruises which he made in the Pacific many years ago.
Mr. Thomas J. Collins of Haddonfield, N. J., has presented a painted jar from the Orinoco River.
The Museum has just purchased an important collection of twenty-nine specimens of jade ornaments and carved wooden objects from New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Easter Island, Marquesas Islands and New Caledonia.
The building operations which were begun two years ago and which comprise the addition of a Rotunda to be used for exhibition purposes and an Auditorium beneath it are now approaching completion. There remain only the fixtures to be manufactured and put in place. In the course of the next three or four months the new rooms will be ready for installation.
Miss Adela Breton, the well-known traveler and student of Americana, is visiting Philadelphia for the purpose of studying the Central American MSS. in the Berendt Collection of American Linguistics.
On the evening of the 28th of December, the day prior to the opening session of the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Provost and Mrs. Smith held a reception at the Museum for the members of the Association. During the remainder of the week, Section H, in affiliation with the American Anthropological Association, held its sessions at the Museum.