Mediterranean Galleries Tour

Explore eight objects and themes in the Etruscan Italy, Greece, and Rome Galleries. Beginning in the 8th century BCE and covering roughly 1,000 years of history, the tour takes you from early Italian tombs to Roman imperial burials in Syria. Learn about the developmentof coinage, mythological scenes on Greek vases, Greek social practices, Etruscan architecture, Roman technological innovations in glass, and an erased Roman imperial inscription.

9 Tour Stops

Mediterranean Galleries Tour Introduction

The Penn Museum’s Mediterranean section has more than 30,000 objects ranging from the Early Bronze Age, around 5,000 years ago, to 19th century reproductions of ancient Roman artifacts from Pompeii.


People in the ancient world were often buried with objects that exemplified their lives and cultural values. Archaeologists can learn about ancient people by studying their burial assemblages.

Greek Coins

The first coins appeared in the Mediterranean more than 2,500 years ago but evolved from much earlier methods of bartering. The ancient Greeks marked their coins with gods and animals that represented their city-states.

Birth of Athena

The Greeks painted well-known mythological scenes on their ceramic vases. Much like movie posters, these stories are represented with a single scene and are recognizable to those who know the myth.


The ancient symposium, or drinking party, was an important part of life for upper-class Greek men. We can use images of the symposium and the sympotic vessels themselves to reconstruct many elements of this social event.

Architectural Terracotta

In much the same way that we roof our buildings now, the Etruscan used decorations made of fired clay, or terracotta, to protect wooden structures like temples from decay. These terracottas help archaeologists reconstruct ancient buildings made from organic materials that are no longer standing.

Roman Glass

Glass manufacturing was already thousands of years old when the Romans revolutionized its production, making glass a mass-produced commodity.

Puteoli Block

Like today, people in the ancient Mediterranean created, erected, modified, and reused monuments in response to changing political and social situations.


The Roman Empire reached far and wide and encompassed people from many cultures, including the important crossroads at Palmyra in modern Syria. Funerary sculptures from Palmyra reflect the vibrant, multicultural people of the Roman world.