Painted Metaphors: Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya

 Painted Metaphors: Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya will be open in our Dietrich gallery 05 April 2009 through 31 January 2010.

Around 700 CE Chamá and the other towns and villages along Guatemala’s Chixoy River were hubs of activity, crossroads of trade and pilgrimage, channeling the movement of people and ideas at the height of Maya civilization. This is the story of the ancient Maya as lived by these villagers and the rediscovery of their history by archaeologists today.

Penn Museum’s unique collection of brilliantly painted Chamá Polychromes opens a window into the lives of the ordinary Maya of 1300 years ago, and the way they dealt with the challenge of forced change. More than 150 objects--figurines, jades, musical instruments, ritual objects, weaving implements, cooking pots and projectile points--convey vibrant evidence of ancient Maya life, as revealed by archaeological discovery and scientific analysis.

Photo caption: Known as The Chama Vase this vessel from the 8th century CE was found in a stone-lined tomb at the ancient Maya site of Chama (in modern day Guatemala) at the end of the 19th century. Height: 23.5 cm diameter: 15 cm. Penn Museum object 38-14-1.

To learn more about this exhibit, check out


3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED


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