On a recent morning, ninety-nine years after the Sphinx arrived at the Penn Museum, Dr. Benjamin Ashcom posed a question to a group of sixth and seventh graders: How much does the Sphinx weigh?
RICHARD DAWKINS TO RECEIVE
PENN MUSEUM'S WILTON KROGMAN AWARD MARCH 12
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Sold Out Philomatheon Society Lecture, Where Award will be Presented, is Featured Part of University of Pennsylvania's "Year of Proof"
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 22.214.171.124.0, 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 126.96.36.199.0 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.