On Wednesday, May 13, 2015, Dr. Katharyn Hanson, a Consulting Scholar with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center at the Penn Museum, testifed before the Congressional Hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee on the destruction of archaeological sites and the impact on modern communities in Iraq. She had grim news to share:
"Minority religious heritage sites throughout ISIS held areas of Iraq and Syria have been suffering enormous damage and face constant risk. The targeted extermination of religious minorities by ISIS results in mass death and also the erasure of the outward manifestations of the minority religious culture, threatening the continuity of their religious practices."
Dr. Hanson is the Visiting Manager and a lecturer for the Archaeological Site Preservation Program at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil, Iraq. She recently completed her doctorate at the University of Chicago in Mesopotamian Archaeology. Her research on Iraq and Syria combines archaeology, remote sensing, and cultural heritage policy. In the policy area, she previously worked in a US Senate office on Capitol Hill and for the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center. She has published on damage to ancient sites in southern Iraq and on her fieldwork in Syria. Based on her work she has curated international museum exhibits on this damage. Dr. Hanson’s current research focuses on cultural heritage preservation in Iraq and Syria.
Click here to read her full testimony.
A nine-day, community-wide celebration of science, this year's Philadelphia Science Festival takes place April 24 through May 2, featuring lectures, debates, hands-on activities, special exhibitions and a variety of other informal science education experiences for Philadelphians of all ages. Penn Museum is a founding partner and an active participant of the festival. Come out to explore, and look for Penn Museum activities at a number of locations!
Archaeologist Lauren Risvet, the Robert H. Dyson Assistant Curator, Near East Section of the Penn Museum, has been working in Azerbaijan, one of the first Westerners to excavate there. Her goal: to build a broader picture of a great empire. But first, she needed to build a community of colleagues in the region, willing and able to join in on the exploration. Together, as this story in SAS Frontiers notes, the international team is making progress. They return to Azerbaijan for a 2015 season June through August.
Photos, left to right: Nilufer Agayeva, Naxcivan State University, Azerbaijan, in the forground, supervising excavations; Lauren Risvet in the field in Azerbaijan; Penn alumna Jennifer Swerida (in white hat) and Rachel Cohen (black bandana) are among those excavating a burial (Photo Courtesy: Lauren Risvet).
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology deplores the devastating, ongoing destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria. The continued pillaging of archaeological sites and the destruction of irreplaceable artifacts and monuments are a catastrophe for the people of the region and for all humanity. As an institution dedicated to studying, preserving, understanding, and sharing knowledge of the world's rich and diverse cultural heritage—and with an especially strong history of work and study in Iraq—the Penn Museum particularly laments the destruction of archaeological sites, museums, and libraries in and around Mosul. Alongside our colleagues throughout the world, we urge the international community and all relevant organizations to do all they can to find solutions to halt this abhorrent destruction.
The Penn Museum is actively involved in this pursuit through its Penn Cultural Heritage Center (PennCHC) which is a partner of Safeguarding the Heritage of Syria and Iraq Project (SHOSI), a consortium of the PennCHC; the Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution; the Geospatial Technologies Project at the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Shawnee State University; The Day After, a Syrian NGO; and the U.S. Institute of Peace. The SHOSI Project supports the efforts of heritage professionals and local communities in Syria and Iraq, who are working under dire circumstances to protect their cultural heritage for the future. The SHOSI Project's ongoing work includes working with displaced heritage professionals and community members who are attempting to preserve cultural heritage, documenting high-risk sites in Syria and Iraq, first-aid conservation treatment of damaged sites, geospatial site monitoring, and periodic workshops and training activities.
Julian Siggers, Ph.D.
Six Panamanian high school exchange students from Colegio San Agustín, Panama City, paired with local students from Villa Maria Academy and Malvern Preparatory School in Malvern, PA, returned to Panama Saturday February 7 after a month-long stay in the region—but not before they, and their hosts, were treated to a VIP "sneak preview" of a new exhibition that explores a spectacular part of Panama's cultural heritage.
Beneath the Surface: Life, Death, and Gold in Ancient Panama, a new exhibition based on famous 1940 archaeological excavations in Panama, opened to the public with fanfare Saturday, February 7: the Consul General of Panama in Philadelphia attended the celebration, which included Panamanian folk dancers and curators' talks, providing a rare opportunity for the region to discover Panamanian culture and history.
DECEMBER 2014—Dr. C. Brian Rose, Peter C. Ferry Curator-in-Charge of the Mediterranean Section at the Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) and the James B. Pritchard Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Classical Studies, School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, will receive the Archaeological Institute of America's top honor, the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement. The award will be formally presented at an Awards Ceremony on January 9, 2015 at the prestigious organization's annual conference to be held in New Orleans.
In announcing the 2015 award on the organization's website, the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) noted that the honor goes to Dr. Rose, "For his work in the field at Troy, the Granicus River Valley Survey Project, and Gordion [Turkey]; his visionary and energetic efforts to provide cultural heritage training to the members of the US military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; and his highly influential role as an educator, formerly at University of Cincinnati and now at University of Pennsylvania."
PHILADELPHIA, PA November 2014—When Publisher DK, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution, decided to create a book that offers a unique look at world history through the visual presentation of human-made artifacts, they contacted the Penn Museum in Philadelphia about the possibility of exploring the collections and possibly taking a number of object photos for the new book.
The gloriously illustrated full-color book—History of the World in 1,000 Objects—published last month, is out, and the numbers are in: more than 200 objects in the book, roughly 20%, come from the Penn Museum's world-renowned international collections.
The Penn Museum congratulates Suzan Shown Harjo! Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee poet, writer, lecturer, curator, policy advocate, and an advisor to the Penn Museum's Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now, Dr. Harjo will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, at an award ceremony at the White House on November 24, 2014.
President Obama was quoted as saying: "From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world."
Dr. Harjo was among 19 Americans named this year by President Obama for the prestigious award; among them, author Isabel Allende, journalist Tom Brokaw, actress Meryl Streep, and singer/songwriter Stevie Wonder.
Details are on the White House blog.
Visitors to the Penn Museum can see video excerpts of Dr. Harjo in the Native American Voices exhibition.
The Penn Museum recently welcomed eight renowned painters from China, visiting the galleries as part of a three-day Philadelphia stop on a U.S. tour. Artists Yun Sheng Nan, Bo Qiang, An Wei, Xiaoyong Zhang, Weiguo Zhao, Yunsheng Hu, Rongqiang Zhai, with Baoxing Zhang Group leader, enjoyed a sunny morning in the Museum's Warden Garden.
The artists' works were shown in New York City in the International Ecological Art Exhibition, part of the 2014 U.N. High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace, a daylong opportunity for Member States, U.N. entities, NGOs, media, and the private sector to exchange ideas promoting peace. Known for their traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting of birds, flowers, and landscapes, the artists hold multiple awards and distinctions. Public and private collections throughout China feature their paintings. They plan to host a Philadelphia exhibit next spring.
Penn Museum's Footprints of Peace program is scheduled for International Peace Day Sunday, September 21. For one group of West Philadelphia summer campers with the Artistic and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) Summer Program, however, peace preparations have been underway for much of the summer, with more work planned when the ACE Afterschool program kicks in.
Children from the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation of Bridgeton, New Jersey, recently visited the Penn Museum's Native American Voices exhibition to see their tribe represented in a major exhibition.
Members and friends of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania recently came ashore to the Penn Museum 13 days into their 17-day "Rising Nation" Delaware River canoe journey, inviting area neighbors, organizations, families, and friends to join in signing the Treaty of Renewed Friendship. Those who signed the treaty indicate their support of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania as partners and caretakers of a sacred homeland—the region of eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and southern New York.
Molly Gleeson, Rockwell Project Conservator of In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies, recently welcomed a special, and especially determined, young guest.
One week every summer for the past four years, Jessica "Jessie" Schwartz, with her parents, Penn Museum members Dr. David Schwartz and Stephanie Schwartz, have traveled from Atlanta, Georgia so Jessie can participate in the Museum's Anthropologists in the Making camp, usually during the Egyptian-themed camp weeks. Last summer after the fourth grade, she discovered the In the Artifact Lab workspace exhibition through camp activities in the galleries, but felt torn between finishing the camp day or speaking with an In the Artifact Lab conservator at 2:00 pm.
The Penn Museum's own Dr. Janet Monge, Keeper and Curator-in-Charge of the Museum's Physical Anthropology Section, has been named "Philly's Best Museum Curator" by Philadelphia Magazine, in the annual "Best of Philly" list featured in the magazine's August edition.
Summer is the season for exploration.
Italy, Greece, Egypt, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey, India, China, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, U.S.A. (New Mexico and North Carolina)—this summer break, 33 University of Pennsylvania students (11 undergraduate and 23 graduate students) doing research around the country and around the world, will be funded in part by competitive Penn Museum summer field research grants.
It's a REAL night at the Museum! The Penn Museum's popular "40 Winks for the Sphinx" sleepover program returns this fall, inviting kids 6-12 and their chaperones on an overnight "expedition" through cultures of the world in our international galleries. This unique experience, delighting visitors since 2009, was recently cited as one of the "can't-miss museum sleepovers in the country" by Minitime Family Travel.
The Pepper Mill Café is serving up something new, just for kids 12 and younger. Children receive a free souvenir activity book and pack of crayons with any Café purchase.
An unconventional convention helped kick off this year's Anthropologists in the Making Summer Camp at the Penn Museum. On Friday, June 27, more than 30 campers ages 7-13 hosted their parents for a Tattoo and Body Adornment Convention, inspired by the week's theme of Worn and Adorn.
Campers demonstrated ancient Maya body modifications, modeled wearables to represent supernatural identities, explained drop ear gauges, and imitated scarification, then "tattooed" their parents' with paint to share their newfound knowledge.
Philadelphia is one of the best cities in the world to experience art. From the magnificent museums of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, to renowned schools for emerging artists; from the city's carefully crafted gardens and botanical designs, to the historical creations found right here at the Penn Museum—there are countless ways to find the artistic side of Philly. And this summer, you're invited for a specially curated tour of some of the best art the city has to offer.
In the busy months leading up to the opening of Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now, curator Lucy Fowler Williams took on one additional project: she agreed to lead a group of School District of Philadelphia teachers, K-12 educators, in a class on the upcoming exhibition, through the University of Pennsylvania's Teacher Institute of Philadelphia Program. Tuesday evenings from January to May 2014, Dr. Williams met with a dozen teachers in the Penn Museum. The classes regularly featured Native American special guest speakers and first-hand opportunities to explore material culture, history, and contemporary perspectives in Native America.