Penn Museum Explores Daily Life During Politically Tumultuous Times
A world-renowned collection of ancient Maya painted pottery, excavated by the University of Pennsylvania Museum nearly a century ago and reinterpreted in light of recent research in the field, provides the centerpiece for Painted Metaphors: Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya, a new exhibition opening at the Penn Museum 05 April 2009. Painted Metaphors runs through 31 January 2010, before beginning a multi-city national tour.
Like so many pieces of the famous Chama pottery that conservators meticulously put back together at the Penn Museum, Painted Metaphors yields new clues to understanding everyday life—and changing politics—of the ancient Maya of Guatemala 1,300 years ago.
“ANTHROPOLOGISTS IN THE MAKING” FOR CHILDREN AGES 7 TO 13
10 FEBRUARY 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—For the summer of 2009, adventurous children ages 7 through 13 can experience a day camp that takes them through time and across continents at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on Penn’s campus in Philadelphia.
21 FEBRUARY 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Music and dance of Africa, storytelling, arts and crafts, gallery tours, culture and cuisine—it all comes together at the 20th annual Celebration of African Cultures Saturday, February 21, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. throughout the galleries of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The event is FREE with Museum admission donation ($10 for adults; $7 for seniors, 65 and above; $6 for students and children 6-17; free for Museum members, children under 6, and PENNcard holders).
22 FEBRUARY 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—ZAP! ZOOM! POW! Superheroes, super villains, and their sidekicks have enjoyed an honored place in American comics and movies—as they have in cultures around the world. Watch out on Sunday, 22 March 2009 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., as superheroes, traveling through time and across continents, invade the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on the Penn campus in an afternoon of super antics, super games—and super fun!
It’s WOW! Superhero Day, free with Museum admission donation, featuring activities for all ages: heroic talks and programs, comic book drawing workshops, superhero-style storytelling, a heroic scavenger hunt and heroic gallery tours, a balloon maker, a superhero marketplace with games and comics, Superhero Twister, comic hero mask making, and opportunities to learn and play popular superhero games. All superheroes and super villains who attend in costume receive discount admission ($2 off adult; $1 off children and senior citizens)—and the chance to win super prizes throughout the afternoon!
WOW! Superhero Day at the Penn Museum is a featured event of a year-long celebration, POW: Comics, Animation, and Graphic Novels, running Fall 2008 through Spring 2009 at the University of Pennsylvania.
Superheroes are the focus of three short programs. Peter Struck, Associate Professor of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania, looks back in time at “Ancient Heroes and Superheroes” at 1:15 p.m. "Costumed Culture Warriors" is the title of a short program featuring movie clips by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, at 2:00 p.m. “The Physics of Superheroes, or Why Can’t We All Ignore the Laws of Nature?” an interactive program by Bill Berner, Penn Physics Demonstration Laboratory Coordinator, takes a scientific view of the possible and impossible feats performed by a range of well-known superheroes at 3:00 p.m.
04 JANUARY 2002, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Discovery of grisly evidence of strangulation and decapitation, and bizarre arrangements of human and animal bones, has solved the longstanding mystery about the Celtic presence at Gordion, Turkey, where the University of Pennsyvlania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has been excavating since 1950. The chronologically rich site, long renowned as the capital of Phrygia in the 8th century B.C. and the center from which the famed King Midas once ruled, is about 60 miles southwest of Ankara in central Turkey.
Project to Create World's First Dictionary of the First Written Language Gets Re-Defined in New Age of Internet Communications Technologies
02 APRIL 2002, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology's Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project was awarded a two-year, $302,000 grant from the National Endowment of Humanities, an independent federal agency.
Anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday Seeks to Redefine the Meaning of Matriarchy In Women at the Center, New Book Detailing Her Research among the Minangkabau
01 MAY 2002, PHILADELPHIA, PA—For the last century, historians, anthropologists and other scholars have searched both human history and the continents to find a matriarchy-a society where the power was in the hands of women, not men. Most have concluded that a genuine matriarchy does not exist, perhaps may never have existed.
Anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday disagrees. After years of research among the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, Indonesia, she has accepted that group's own self-labeling, as a "matriarchate," or matriarchy. The problem, she asserts, lies in Western cultural notions of what a matriarchy "should" look like-patriarchy's female-twin.
First Example Ever Found of These Special-Use Bricks, Known from Ancient Texts to be Used in Childbirth
01 JULY 2002, PHILADELPHIA, PA—University of Pennsylvania Museum archaeologists have discovered a 3700-year-old "magical" birth brick inside the palatial residence of a Middle Kingdom mayor's house just outside Abydos, in southern Egypt. The colorfully decorated mud birth brick-the first ever found-is one of a pair that would have been used to support a woman's feet while squatting during actual childbirth.
Symposium Offered in Celebration of "Worlds Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans," Permanent New Suite of Classical World Galleries
28 FEBRUARY 2003, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Etruscan civilization, the preeminent culture of central Italy from 800-100 BC, has attracted a renaissance of interest among scholars and the public in recent years. From the Etruscan alphabet and the language, to the furnishings, architecture, fashion and city planning initiatives, these inventive pre-Roman people have left an enduring legacy. They shocked Greeks and Romans with the freedom of their women, their technological prowess, and their control of the sea—and then gradually lost it all to Rome's military campaigns. Yet, with little in the way of actual Etruscan texts preserved, the cultural artifacts that remain—strange, beautiful, sometimes seductive or frightening—pose challenges to archaeologists and historians eager to tease out a better understanding of the Etruscan contributions to the Roman culture that eventually subsumed them.
Conservation Made Possible in Part with IMLS Matching Grant
01 JUNE 2003, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Seven ancient ceramic coffins from the southern Mesopotamian site of Nippur in present-day Iraq - all part of the University of Pennsylvania Museum's Nippur collection and the only such coffins in the United States - will receive the conservation they need, thanks in part to a prestigious matching grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal agency. The year-long conservation project will be carried out by independent conservator Julia Lawson with the advice and assistance of Virginia Greene, the Museum's Senior Conservator, and Dr. Richard Zettler, Penn Museum's Associate Curator in the Near East section.
Find Provides New Insight into Widespread Trade, Cultural Exchange in Region
03 JUNE 2003, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Excavating at the ancient town of Gilund in southern Rajasthan, India, one of the largest sites of the little-known Ahar-Banas culture, archaeologists led by teams from the University of Pennsylvania Museum and Deccan College, Pune, India have discovered a bin filled with more than 100 seal impressions dating to 2100-1700 B.C. The existence of the seals, and their particular styles, offer surprising new evidence for the apparent complexity of this non-literate, late and post-Indus Civilization-era culture, according to Dr. Gregory Possehl, UPM curator and excavation co-director.
16 JANUARY 2004, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective, a new book by Dr. Gregory Possehl, Asian Section Curator of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, has been awarded the prestigious Choice Magazine Award for Outstanding Academic Book for 2003.
A leading expert in the history and archaeology of the ancient Indus Civilization, Dr. Possehl has been engaged in archaeological research in India and Pakistan since 1964. His research interests have taken him from Iron Age megaliths to Mesolithic encampments, and he has directed excavations at Rojdi in Gujarat and, currently, Gilund in southern Rajasthan, India. In addition to his curatorial position at UPM, Dr. Possehl is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.
25 MARCH 2004, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has been awarded a three year, $301,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support an innovative research experience for undergraduates: "Native Voices, Past and Present, Studies of Native American Collections at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology."
Over the duration of the grant, 36 undergraduate students--18 Native American students and 18 University of Pennsylvania students--will have the opportunity to develop and engage in original research projects using the Museum's rich North American Indian collections, including ethnographic and archaeological materials.
Dig at Abydos Yields Important Discoveries About Egypt's First Dynasty
25 MARCH 2004, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The practice of sacrificial burials at First Dynasty (ca. 2950-2775 BC) royal tombs and enclosures has been suggested by Egyptologists since the late 19th century but never proved. However, archeologists working in the desert sands of Abydos, Egypt - more than eight miles from the river Nile - have uncovered strong evidence to suggest that the custom did exist. Moreover, recent excavations have also discovered two new mortuary enclosures - and the royal owner of one has been positively identified.
01 JANUARY 2005, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Chemical analyses of ancient organics absorbed, and preserved, in pottery jars from the Neolithic village of Jiahu, in Henan province, Northern China, have revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit was being produced as early as 9,000 years ago, approximately the same time that barley beer and grape wine were beginning to be made in the Middle East.
In addition, liquids more than 3,000 years old, remarkably preserved inside tightly lidded bronze vessels, were chemically analyzed. These vessels from the capital city of Anyang and an elite burial in the Yellow River Basin, dating to the Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties (ca. 1250-1000 B.C.), contained specialized rice and millet “wines.” The beverages had been flavored with herbs, flowers, and/or tree resins, and are similar to herbal wines described in the Shang dynasty oracle inscriptions.
Penn School of Engineering Joins Forces with Penn Museum, External Collaborators to Develop New Prototype Data Retrieval Systems for Archaeological Sites
06 JANUARY 2005, PHILADELPHIA, PA—University of Pennsylvania Museum archaeologists working at the renowned ancient site of Tiwanaku in Bolivia--a site sometimes called the "American Stonehenge"--have joined forces with a team of engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists and anthropologists from the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Computer and Information Science, School of Engineering, the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, University of Arkansas, and the Department of Anthropology, University of Denver, to begin a large-scale, subsurface surveying project using equipment and techniques that may one day serve as a model for future archaeological efforts worldwide.
31 JANUARY 2005, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Dr. Gregory L. Possehl, Curator of the Asian section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, was made an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Archaeology Society in recognition of his life-long contribution to India archaeology, especially the study of the enigmatic Harappan Civilization (2500-1900 B.C.). The award was confired at the Society's annual meeting held at the Rai Uma Nath Bali Auditorium in Lucknow, India, 28-31 December 2004.
Artifacts are Part of Famous Museum Collection from the Site of Ur and the Royal Tombs at Ur in Iraq
02 AUGUST 2005, PHILADELPHIA, PA—More than 800 copper, copper-alloy and iron objects, all about 4,500 years old and excavated in the 1920s and early 1930s at Ur (a site in modern-day Iraq), and at the royal tombs of Ur , are receiving the conservation treatment and rehousing that they need, thanks to a competitive grant awarded to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology from the Conservation Project Support program of the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
08 SEPTEMBER 2005, PHILADELPHIA, PA—On September 7, eight adventurous archaeologists are scheduled to set sail on a voyage from Oman to India on the Magan, a small boat made of reeds covered with black bitumen tar, as they seek to recreate the voyages of ancient mariners of 4,500 years ago--and prove that it is possible to travel across a 500-mile stretch of the sea in a boat made with Bronze Age technology, propelled by the wind and navigated by the sun and the stars. The reconstructed "Black Boat of Magan" was undertaken by the Joint Hadd Project of which the University of Pennsylvania Museum's curator of the Asian Section, Dr. Gregory L. Possehl. is a co-director, along with colleagues Dr. Maurizio Tosi at the University of Bologna (who is the acknowledged "god father" of the Magan Boat) and Dr. Serge Cleuziou of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. Joined with their Omani collaborators, and Naval Architect Tom Vosmer, they have experimented for over five years with ancient reed boat technology and feel that the current craft is ready to go to sea.