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Great Voyages: Travels, Triumphs, and Tragedies

Join us on first Wednesdays at 6:00 pm from October through June 2014 for our "Great Voyages" lecture series.

Subscriptions
$40 General Admission
$15 Penn Museum members (To get the member discount online, you must log in as a member on the ticketing site. Member discount rate applies only to the amount of persons on your membership core benefits.)

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Single lectures with advance payment
$5 General Admission
$2 Penn Museum Members
$10 At-the-door 

Great Voyages Lecture Series

October 2
Adam Smith, Curator, Penn Museum Asian Section
"The Voyages of the Chinese Explorer Zheng He"
Zheng He, a Muslim-born eunuch, is the most famous of the men that led the spectacular maritime expeditions of the Ming Dynasty, mounted during the early 15th century as an assertion of China's power and prestige among neighboring peoples of Southeast Asia. Dr. Smith discusses Zheng He's seven voyages, which reached beyond Southeast Asia to India, the Middle East, and the east coast of Africa over three decades—half a century before Portuguese navigators reached these same regions via the Cape of Good Hope.

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November 6
Ignacio Gallup-Diaz, Associate Professor, History, Bryn Mawr College
"Ferdinand Magellan, 'Our One True Guide': The First Circumnavigation of the Globe, 1519—1522"
Magellan's circumnavigation was a complex event—a feat of navigation and exploration that also saw hardship, shipwreck, and mutiny visited upon the expedition's crew. In a process that would become paradigmatic, Europeans found themselves enmeshed in regional and local politics—a causative element in Magellan's death. Dr. Gallup-Diaz examines the varied and interconnected maritime, cultural, and political factors that came together during Magellan's circumnavigation.

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December 4
Paul Cobb, Professor of Islamic History, University of Pennsylvania
"Traveler's Tips from the 14th Century: The Detours of Ibn Battuta"
In 1325, a Moroccan scholar named Ibn Battuta set out to do a bit of traveling. When he finally returned to his homeland 30 years later, he had visited the equivalent of over 40 modern countries, traversed the entire eastern hemisphere, and logged about 73,000 miles. After his return home, the sultan of Morocco commissioned a writer to record Ibn Battuta's recollections of his journeys. The result was a book known as the Travels of Ibn Battuta, one of the world's classic travel narratives and a key window into the cosmopolitan world of medieval Islam. The 14th century offered a different world of travel than the one that confronts us today—or did it? What advice can Ibn Battuta provide the globe-trotting public of the 21st century?

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January 8
Steve Tinney, Associate Professor, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania
"Gilgamesh: Journeys to the End of the World"
Gilgamesh was a figure of legend in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) from as early as 4,500 years ago. The tales of his travels were not only stories of adventure in places no human had ever seen, but also reflections on questions of life and knowledge. In this lecture, Dr. Tinney recounts some of Gilgamesh's greatest journeys and revisits discussions about what they meant back then, as well as what they mean today.

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February 5
Robert Ballard, Director, Institute for Archaeological Oceanography
"Lost History Beneath the Sea from Titanic to the Iron Age".
Oceanographer Robert Ballard is best known for his discovery of the sunken Titanic in 1985, as well as other significant shipwrecks including the German battleship Bismarck, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, and two ancient Phoenician ships off Israel—the oldest shipwrecks ever found in deep water. In this talk, Dr. Ballard reviews his 50+ years of exploring the oceans—a career that has taken him all over the world in search of human history lost in the deep waters of the world's oceans, using the latest in advanced exploration technology.

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March 5
Clark Erickson, Professor, Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
"Thor Heyerdahl and Kon Tiki: A Grand Experiment in Archaeology"
Scholars have long debated the possibility of long-distance travel between continents, and its impact on the development of cultures. Similarities between specific objects or groups of cultural traits often lead to hypotheses about the dating, nature, and direction of journeys, and the identification of possible colonists. In this lecture, Dr. Erickson discusses Thor Heyerdahl's mid-20th-Century proposal of a bold experiment to show that South Americans could have colonized Pacific Islands using indigenous boats and navigation—an experiment in which Heyerdahl sailed 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean from Peru to French Polynesia in a self-built raft.

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April 2
Peter Struck, Associate Professor, Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania
"The Odyssey, Nostalgia, and the Lost Home"
Homer's tale of the wandering hero has loaned its name to the English language for the very idea of a long wandering voyage. In this talk, Dr. Struck considers the idea of a displacement in the epic poem, and how Odysseus negotiates his status as someone separated from where he belongs.

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May 7
Brian Rose, James B. Pritchard Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Pennsylvania
"Searching for the Golden Fleece with Jason and the Argonauts"
One of the most captivating voyages in Classical literature involved the travels of the Greek hero Jason to the Black Sea, where he searched for the golden fleece of a winged ram that was the prized possession of the kingdom of Colchis (modern-day Georgia). The narrative components of the voyage provide us with an unusually rich depiction of early Greek attitudes toward women, especially from exotic foreign lands, as well as geographic exploration and ancient sources of gold. Dr. Rose discusses Jason's journeys, and also examines how Greek seafaring in the late Bronze and early Iron Ages relates to Jason's maritime adventures.

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June 4
Michael Weisberg, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania
"Darwin's Beagle Voyage"
When Darwin first stepped foot on the HMS Beagle in 1831, little did he know that what he saw what change biology forever. In this lecture, Dr. Weisberg retraces Darwin's voyage from England to South America, New Zealand, Australia, and Africa, looking at the interesting flora and fauna he encountered, and what they told him about the history of life on earth.

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