News flash! In one of the more remote parts of the Guatemalan rainforest, researchers have unearthed an ancient Maya inscription that refers to 2012—the famed "end point" of the Maya calendar—and only the second such mention yet known. The date appears towards the end of a hieroglyphic text carved on a limestone block produced at the end of the 7th-century CE at La Corona, Guatemala. Calendrical reckonings count forward to anticipate two events: the end of the 10th Bak'tun in 830 and the end of the 13th Bak'tun in 2012.
According to Simon Martin, Co-Curator of MAYA 2012: Lords of Time, "It is a perfect illustration of the main role of the 'Long Count' calendar to promote the reign of kings by embedding their rule within past, present, and future time. They saw their dynasties governing for hundreds and even thousands of years to come—all in accord with the belief in a grand cosmic order where kings were not only sacred, they were part of the fabric of time itself. It is important and exciting to have more evidence for the importance of 2012 to these ancient Maya concepts."
In December this year the great odometer of the Long Count calendar will turn to 126.96.36.199.0, marking the end of the 13th Bak'tun. Whether this date falls on the 21st or 23rd is debated by scholars because there is conflicting evidence on the issue. Whichever day is correct the Maya gave us no dire warning of a cataclysmic outcome.
"As our exhibition MAYA 2012: Lords of Time explains, the Maya universe was conceived as a cosmic clock of unimaginable scale, stretching trillions upon trillions of years into the future and the past," noted Mr. Martin. "The greatest story the Maya have to offer us is their unique vision of time and how they built a system of government that put the calendar at the core of their claims to authority."
The last time the Maya calendar was set to 188.8.131.52.0 came in 3114 BCE, a date recorded on Quirigua Stela C from Guatemala. A towering replica of Stela C is on display in MAYA 2012: Lords of Time.
More about the new discovery, at excavations led in part by Penn Ph.D. Marcello Canuto, now director of Tulane University's Middle American Research Institute, can be found online in Science Daily.
Photos: Front and side (with date projection overlay) views of the massive replica of Cast of Stela C, Quirigua, Guatemala, on display in MAYA 2012: Lords of Time. Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions program, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Replica owned by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Penn Museum's Summer Wonder series returns this season with a stellar lineup of performances and demonstrations that are perfect for the whole family. This weekly program offers an opportunity to enjoy international music, learn traditional Aztec dance, hear stories about the ancient Maya, and much more!
Summer Wonder programs run Wednesday mornings from June 20 through August 8, from 10:30 to 11:30 am, with the exception of July 4. The programs are free with Museum admission donation.
Julian Siggers has been appointed the Williams Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, effective July 1, 2012
The announcement was made April 26 by Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price.
Siggers is currently vice president for programs, education and content communication at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada’s largest research museum. He has also served as director of the Institute for Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum and as head of narrative and broadcast development at the United Kingdom’s National Museum of Science and Industry in London. Siggers taught prehistoric archaeology for eight years at the University of Toronto, where he earned his Ph.D., with a specialization in Near Eastern prehistoric archaeology.
“As we celebrate the Penn Museum’s 125th anniversary, Julian Siggers is the perfect director to lead the nation’s finest university archeological museum,” Gutmann said. “Julian is deeply committed to the Museum’s essential missions of research, teaching and public outreach and engagement. In addition, he has extensive experience with museum stewardship and growth.
“Julian is taking the helm at a time when the sterling reputation of the Penn Museum continues to grow with last year’s ‘Secrets of the Silk Road’ exhibit and the spectacular 30th anniversary Maya Weekend just around the corner. ”
Throughout his career, Siggers has been a pioneer in advancing public engagement with museums and archaeology.
At the Royal Ontario Museum, he developed innovative initiatives designed to make it a vital part of contemporary life and an inviting means of public education and discovery. He pursued new forms of exhibition, publication, programming, broadcasting and digital media, including partnerships with government agencies and a weekly show on the Discovery Channel, and he directed a Dead Sea Scrolls project that drew the museum’s highest attendance in two decades. He was also an integral part of the team responsible for fundraising initiatives, especially during a highly successful $300 million capital campaign.
“Julian Siggers is one of the world’s leading figures in enhancing the vitality of museums and charting the future of museum practice,” Price said. “A committed scholar of prehistoric archaeology, he understands the importance of working collaboratively with faculty and scholars while expanding the reach of their work to new and non-traditional audiences. I am confident that he will be a galvanizing force for advancing the Penn Museum across our campus, our city and state and beyond.”
In addition to his 1997 doctorate from the University of Toronto, Siggers earned an M.A. in prehistoric archaeology in 1988 and B.A. with honors in archaeology in 1986 from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London.
“As we welcome Julian,” Price said, “we also express our gratitude to Richard Hodges for his dynamic leadership of the Museum over the past five years, and we wish him well in his new position as president of the American University of Rome.”
Duffy’s Cut: Skeletal Remains of Irish Immigrants from 1832 Leave Penn Museum
Once-Forgotten Irish Immigrants Are Laid to Rest In West Laurel Hill Cemetery
The long saga of Duffy’s Cut and the Irish immigrants who died there comes to a close—at least for the six individuals who were excavated from a mass gravesite in Malvern, PA.
In June, 1832, a group of 57 Irish immigrants from Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry arrived in Philadelphia. They were brought to Chester County by a fellow Irishman named Philip Duffy as laborers for the construction of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, Pennsylvania’s pioneering railroad. Within six weeks, all were dead of cholera and possibly violence, and were buried anonymously in a ditch outside of Malvern.
“Living Deliberately” Students and Professor Visit the Penn Museum
Eleven Asian texts were carefully arranged on a large table, catalogue cards by each, when the University of Pennsylvania students came in to the Asian section storage room at the Penn Museum. The materials were diverse and intriguing: a Tibetan sutra rendered in gold leaf lettering; a mid-19th century Thai illustrated manuscript folded in accordion fashion; a Chinese scroll discovered inside a Buddhist statue; a Japanese prayer kit for a travelling monk; and a palm leaf manuscript with Sinhala characters etched into the leaves.
Philadelphia is among the world’s great art destinations—and Penn Museum, home to a vast collection of international art through the ages, is pleased to be a partner in a new marketing and awareness campaign that celebrates the city as a prime global destination for visual arts!
With Art Philadelphia™, a new, multi-year campaign announced by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation on Thursday, January 12, invites the public to take advantage of the great arts Philadelphia has to offer.
The visual arts collaborative is a first-of-its-kind partnership to position Philadelphia among the world’s great art destinations and to increase visitation to the region from around the world. The group is made up of the City of Philadelphia, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Penn Museum, the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and the Parkway Council Foundation.
Find out more about the partnership here: visitphilly.com/withart
Meet our docents! Penn Museum has 60 volunteer docents who annually provide gallery tours to thousands of children, teens and college students, families, seniors and special interest groups of all kinds.
Docents go through a rigorous training program at the museum to prepare them to share stories about the cultures and artifacts presented in the galleries. They continue to learn, with ongoing training programs and special lectures throughout the year.
Pictured here at a recent meeting and end of the year luncheon are many of the Museum's docents, who graciously took to the steps of the Kress Gallery entrance to have their group shot taken.
The theme for the roundtable program, attended by about 100 people, was "Driving Economic Development and Building Access to the Global Market."
Ayana Jones, business reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, attended the roundtable and wrote this article about the event. The news was even picked up by the South Florida Caribbean News, and covered in this story.
More photos from the evening are online on the Penn Museum's Flickr page.
(L-R, back row): Unidentified man, H.E. Dr. Neil Parsan, Ambassador of Trinidad & Tobago; H.E. Seydou Bouda, Ambassador of Burkina Faso; Christopher Orji, Ph.d, Chair, African & Caribbean Business Council; H.E. Ms. Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, Ambassador of Botswana; H.E. Ebrahim Rasool, Ambassador of South Africa; Dr. Azuka Anyiam, Ph.d, President, African & Caribbean Business Council; Hon. Stanley Straughter, Chairman, Mayor's Commission on African & Caribbean Immigrant Affairs; H.E. Dan Ohene Agyekum, Ambassador of Ghana; and Samuel Blango III.
(L-R, front row) Ebenezer Padi Adjirackor, Commercial Minister, Embassy of Ghana; Archyn Brew-Butler, and Stanley Dike Sr., all seen here visiting Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum. They were all guests or speakers at the African and Caribbean Business Council's roundtable program, hosted by the Penn Museum. The event brought six ambassadors from African and Caribbean countries together with Philadelphia business leaders, Friday, November 11.
The Mayor's Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs in collaboration with the African and Caribbean Business Council (ACBC) held a meeting and reception for the Honorable Charles A. Ray, the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe, at the Penn Museum on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia October 19, 2011. The attendees visited the Imagine Africa with the Penn Museum gallery project before their meeting.
Pictured here, in the Imagine Africa gallery project, left to right: the Honorable Stanley L. Straughter, Chairman, Mayor's Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs; Herman Bigham, Herman Bigham and Associates; Pam Kosty, Public Relations Director, Penn Museum; the Honorable Charles. A. Ray, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe; John F. Smith, II, Chair, Board of Directors of Global Philadelphia; Dr. Azuka Anyiam, President, African and Caribbean Business Council; Kevin Schott, Exhibition Developer, Penn Museum; and Archyn Brew-Butler, President, Orijin Culture.
We Knew Him When...
Working towards a Ph.D. in Anthropology may not make you an instant millionaire, but it just might make you smart enough to win a million dollars!
At least, that's what Noam Osband is hoping. A Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, Noam will be a contestant on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," airing TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4 and WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5. Hosted by the Emmy Award-winning Meredith Vieira, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" can be seen locally in the Philadelphia area on WPVI (ABC6), weekdays at 12:30 pm.
Last year, Noam was one of several Penn students with a summer field research grant from the Penn Museum. He used the grant money to study Mexican guest workers in Arkansas.
His strategy for winning? "As a kid, I used to always read the encyclopedia," he said, adding, "Wikipedia is your best friend."
Go, Noam, we may not be your official "lifeline" but we'll be watching and cheering you on!
UPDATE: We have a winner! Noam didn't win the grand prize, but he did walk away with an astonishing $250,000! Congratulations, Noam!
At 3:20 pm, nearly finished, he was visited by a group of Penn Museum's "Anthropologists in the Making" campers, who had plenty of questions about his work. One girl was quick to point out that his painting had some mistakes—he had missed some elements in the room.
"That's interesting," he noted, "you think I should paint exactly what I see." Mr. Beck surprised the child, and others, when he said, "I'm not actually painting a picture of the sphinx; I'm painting my reaction to the sphinx."
Mr. Beck's new painting will be exhibited this October at the Rosenfeld Gallery, part of a new body of work titled "Philadelphia Heartbeat." The new collection includes two dozen of Mr. Beck's responses to a number of special places in the city, including the Italian Market, a community garden, and the Philadelphia Zoo.
Packing up from his Penn Museum encounter, Mr. Beck had one more extraordinary spot to work that day: he was on his way to paint an image of Pat's Steaks at night.
You can see samples of Robert Beck's work online at www.robertbeck.net. "Philadelphia Heartbeat" opens at the Rosenfeld Gallery, 113 Arch Street, with a public reception on October 9.
Penn Museum’s American and Conservation departments were recently awarded a grant from IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) to conduct a conservation survey and rehouse the museum's collection of pottery and textiles from the site of Pachacamac, Peru. Pachacamac was a sacred center in the Andean region for more than 1,000 years and figures prominently in myth, oral history, and Peruvian identity even today. The 12,000-item archaeological collection was made in 1895–1896 and contains diverse and fragile organic materials preserved in the dry environment of the Peruvian coast. The rehoused pottery will be moved closer to the Pachacamac textiles, which in turn will be treated and moved into new custom cabinetry. The completed project will provide the museum with a prioritized list of recommended conservation treatment and rehoused materials that will be more safely accessible for class use, research, and community engagement.
Photo: Mummy bale of a child, from the main cemetery in front of the temple of Pachacamac (south of modern Lima, in Peru), 6th–9th century CE, Penn Museum Object 26626.
The Philadelphia 76ers are sending six of the 2010-11 Sixers Dancers to China for two NBA-sponsored appearances in Chongqing and Hangzhou, China, from Thursday, June 9 through Monday, June 20. It is the second time Sixers Dancers have traveled to China.
Erica and Danielle arrived in the Museum's Chinese Rotunda Tuesday afternoon, June 7, ready to learn. They were greeted by the perfect tutors-University of Pennsylvania students.
Rebecca Fu, graduate student in classical Chinese literature and history, spoke a bit about Chinese art and culture-and taught the dancers how to write their names in Chinese.
Three dancers from the Penn Pan-Asian Dance Troupe, teachers Melinda Wang and Joanna Wu and coordinator Kevin Lou, were ready to give the Sixers Dancers a Chinese dance lesson and workout. The troupe performs on campus and throughout the Philadelphia community, with a repertoire that has grown to encompass dances representing a multitude of ethnicities, including Chinese, Filipino, Japanese and Thai. For this crash course, they introduced Erica and Danielle to the colorful Ribbon Dance.
At first, handling the long ribbons and new choreography was challenging to the dancers. It wasn't long, however, before they were ready to put it all to music and dance like they'd been doing it for years. Who knows? Maybe we'll see a Ribbon Dance at an upcoming 76ers game!
Penn Museum Summer Hours
Enjoy the Penn Museum, gardens and fountains this summer! Do be aware: not all galleries are air conditioned.
Tuesday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm (Summer Nights music series runs Wednesday evenings, June 22-August 24.)
Thursday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Friday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Penn Museum is closed on Mondays.
Please note the following summer holiday closings: Sunday, July 3, and Monday, July 4 of Independence Day weekend; and Sunday, September 4 and Monday, September 5, 2011, of Labor Day weekend.
The Louis Shotridge Digital Archive is now live at www.penn.museum/collections/shotridge
For the first time, scholars, students, and community leaders interested in learning more about Southeastern Alaskan Native history and culture can explore the remarkable Shotridge collection online. The Shotridge collection is widely acclaimed as one of the finest Tlingit collections in the world because of the kinds of objects represented and their detailed documentation.
This digital archive contains 570 objects, 2,600 written documents, 500 black-and-white photographs, and eight sound recordings. Louis Shotridge's records contextualize Southeast Alaska’s Native American history and art in the first three decades of the 20th century.
Who was Louis Shotridge?
Louis V. Shotridge (Stoowukáa) was a Tlingit ethnologist born in 1882 to an influential Tlingit family in Klukwan, Alaska. He and his wife Florence (Kaatxwaantséx) came to the Penn Museum in 1912 at the invitation of the Museum's American Section Curator George Byron Gordon. The first Northwest Coast Indian to receive professional anthropological training and the first to gain employment in a museum, Shotridge worked for Penn for two decades, from 1912-1932. During that time he conducted four collecting expeditions in Southeast Alaska, living 15 of the 20 years in the field. He received a monthly salary and purchased nearly 600 Tlingit objects, recorded hundreds of pages of ethnographic and historical notes about his own people, exposed 500 photographs, made sound and film recordings, and wrote 14 articles for publication in the Museum Journal.
Louis Shotridge’s vision to preserve Tlingit history, coupled with his indigenous knowledge and attention to detail, inspired him to collect, record and safeguard Tlingit histories, genealogies, language and art during a transformative era. By making these collections available on line, the Penn Museum intends to promote and extend Louis Shotridge’s legacy to preserve and share Native American history for future generations of Native American communities and throughout the world.
This project was supported by a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and a grant from Penn’s Center for Native American Studies. Project partners include the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image of the Penn Library (SCETI), the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA), the Alaska State Library, and consulting Tlingit scholars.
On Monday, April 11, the Chief of Staff, the Director of Community Engagement, the Exhibitions Director, and staff in many departments throughout the Penn Museum, were busy serving lunch to a hearty group of very special VIPs.
It was the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. Penn Museum has much to be grateful for, and many to thank.
Penn Museum will soon lend its largest object from Alaska to the United Nations for its upcoming exhibition The Right to Water and Indigenous Peoples. The Museum's 15 foot Umiak, an Inupiaq skin boat made of stretched walrus and seal skin coated with seal oil, will navigate its way to New York City in mid May where it will be on display at the UN until the end of June. The exhibition, which marks the Tenth Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, highlights water’s critical relevance to indigenous spiritual, cultural, political and economic systems around the globe, and includes contributions from indigenous photographers and filmmakers around the world.
The Provenience of the Umiak
With the help of John Wanamaker, the department store magnate, the Penn Museum hired William B. Van Valin to lead an expedition to Alaska, 1917-1919. Van Valin had previously lived and taught in northern Alaska while working for the U.S. Bureau of Education. For the Museum he collected ethnographic material among the Iñupiaq and excavated ancient remains at Point Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost location of mainland North America. He also took photographs and motion picture film. The Van Valin films, now at the Smithsonian Institution’s Human Studies Film Archives, are the first ever made of Iñupiaq Eskimo life.
Listen to an excerpt about the umiak from the Penn Museum's Highlights of the Galleries Tour:
Penn Museum Deputy Director Brian Rose is blogging from Afghanistan this week on the Penn Museum blog. The cultural heritage preservation tour was coordinated by the American Embassy, the Asia Foundation, and the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni. Brian will be visiting with cultural heritage officers and local government officials in Kabul and Ghazni (nearly 150 km to the southwest of Kabul.) On day one of his trip, he observed:
"One sees the effects of decades of war in most parts of town—some Afghans even refer to it as the Thirty Years War, beginning with the Soviet invasion in 1978… But there is nevertheless a great sense of hope for the future wherever one looks."
Dr. Rose, no stranger to body armor, was also hosted by the Cultural Heritage Liaison Officer at the American Embassy in Baghdad in April 2009, where he toured the ancient ziggurat at Ur and the newly renovated Iraq National Museum to advise on their historic preservation and archaeological management efforts.
Under the auspices of the AIA, he also leads a cultural heritage training program on the archaeology of Iraq and Afghanistan for US troops deploying to the Middle East. In November, Penn Museum hosted several troops from Fort Dix who were a part of this program and got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Near East Collections.
Battleground: War Rugs from Afghanistan
April 30 - July 31, 2011
The rug weavers of Afghanistan, long renowned for their artistry, depict on their rugs the world that they see. Like television news, their rugs “report” current events. Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and throughout more than three decades of international and civil war, Afghan weavers have borne witness to disaster by weaving unprecedented images of battle and weaponry into their rugs. Read more
Penn Museum is pleased to be a core collaborator with the city's first-ever science festival!
The Philadelphia Science Festival is a citywide collaboration April 15-28 showcasing the impact of science and technology past, present and future. Part of a national movement to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, the Festival builds on Philadelphia's own rich history of innovation with dozens of free lectures, debates, hands-on activities, special exhibits and other informal learning experiences at museums, libraries and even street corners and concert halls. More than 55 institutions led by The Franklin Institute support the inaugural Festival, funded in part by the National Science Foundation and presented by The Dow Chemical Company.
Programs offered by the Penn Museum:
Saturday, April 16, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Science Carnival Booth
Outdoor Event on the Parkway
The Science Festival kicks off with a science carnival on the Parkway, and Penn Museum joins in with a look at the science of mummification. Visitors can learn about Penn Museum's ancient Egyptian mummies, witness interactive displays, and participate in a related science project.
Sunday, April 17, 2:00 pm
Where East Meets West: Genetic Perspectives on the Tarim Basin Mummies
Dr. Spencer Wells, Explorer-in-Residence and Director of the Genographic Project at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC., offers this lecture. Dr. Wells considers the first DNA evidence taken from exceptionally well-preserved mummies of the Tarim Basin; two such mummies were featured in Secrets of the Silk Road, through March 15 (the exhibition continues through June 5, in a modified presentation, with models of the mummies and made-to-scale photographs, April 2 through June 5). Admission: $5; free for full-time college students with ID. Tickets: www.penn.museum/calendar, (215) 898-4890.
Wednesday, April 20, 1:05 pm
Phillies Science Day at the Ballpark!
Baseball lovers can check out the Penn Museum's Mummy Booth at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies are hosting Science Day at the Ballpark on April 20 at 1:05 pm. Come see what happens to a hot dog when you mummify it!
Wednesday, April 20, 5:00 to 8:00 pm
Teachers' Workshop: Infusing Global Education into Math and Science Curricula
April 18 - 22 and 25 - 29, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Spring Break Day Camp for Children
Silk Road Spring Break Adventure Camp
Science Comes to You: Neighborhood Science Activities
Penn Museum joins in the Science Festival's extensive neighborhood programming with CSI: Ancient Egypt, Forensic Anthropology 101
In an effort to learn more about the physical aspects of humankind, both past and present, anthropologists developed methods and techniques to evaluate human skeletal remains, techniques that apply in modern forensic (criminal) investigations. Stephen R. Phillips, Ph.D., RPA, Research Assistant to the Curator-in-Charge of the Egyptian Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, presents.
Using cases from his own archaeological research, this Philadelphia Science Festival lecture introduces the audience to those scientific methods and techniques through digital images of actual ancient Egyptian human remains-some nearly as old as the pyramids themselves. The program is co-sponsored by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Lecture Program of the Penn Museum.
Thursday, April 21 at 4:00 pm,
Paschalville Branch Library, 6942 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa 19142-1823
Tuesday, April 26 at 4:00 pm
Bushrod Library, 6304 Castor Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa 19149
Wednesday, April 27 at 4:00 pm
Kingsessing Library, 1201 South 51st Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19143
The University of Pennsylvania, a silver sponsor of the festival, is partnering with a host of additional programs.
To learn more about all the programs in the Philadelphia Science Festival, visit PhilaScienceFestival.org or call (215) 448-1128.
Secrets of the Silk Road NBC 10 Documentary
Thursday, March 3 at 7:30 pm
Join NBC 10 anchor Tim Lake on a Silk Road journey of discovery, exploring the story behind Secrets of the Silk Road, the Penn Museum's new landmark exhibition from China. The show features in-depth interviews with Dr. Victor Mair, curatorial consultant to the exhibition; Dr. Nancy Steinhardt, Curator of Art, Asia section at the Penn Museum; and Dr. Richard Hodges, Williams Director of the Penn Museum. Learn more about the "Beauty of Xiaohe," an astonishingly well-preserved, 3,800 year old mummy--and the more than 100 ancient treasures, all found in the Tarim Basin desert of Central Asia, that make up this remarkable exhibition, making its final US appearance here in Philadelphia!