Press Releases: Research
New Evidence From Excavations in Arcadia, Greece, Supports Theory of the "Birth of Zeus" And the Worship of the Father of Greek Gods on Mt. Lykation
Project Field Director David Gilman Romano Offers Update at January 27 Lecture "The Search for Zeus: The Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project" 21 JANUARY 2009, PHILADELPHIA, PA—In the third century BCE, the Greek poet Callimachus wrote a 'Hymn to Zeus' asking the ancient, and most powerful, Greek god whether he was born in Arcadia on Mt. Lykaion or in Crete on Mt. Ida. A Greek and American team of archaeologists working on the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project believe they have at least a partial answer to the poet’s query. New excavation evidence indicates that Zeus' worship was established on Mt. Lykaion as early as the Late Helladic period, if not before, more than 3,200 years ago. According to Dr. David Gilman Romano, Senior Research Scientist, Mediterranean Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum, and one of the project’s co-directors, it is likely that a memory of the cult's great antiquity survived there, leading to the claim that Zeus was born in Arcadia.
Penn Museum’s CT Scanning Project Collaborates with Mütter Museum To Incorporate Hrytl Skull Collection
14 DECEMBER 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—“I like the variety,” said Erika Durham CT Technologist, Department of Radiology, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “These are very different populations from what I work with during the week. And just the whole thing—helping science—that is cool.” For about one year, Ms. Durham has been one of HUP’s CT technologists assisting scientists at the University of Pennsylvania Museum with a major, National Science Foundation funded project to cat scan the Museum’s skeletal collections of thousands of human and primate specimens, as well as collections from Columbia University, the American Museum of Natural History—and, on this early Sunday morning—a collection of skulls from the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
First Mycenaean Harbor and Port Town Offers a New Opportunity to Understand the Rise and Fall of a Great Expansionist Ancient Greek Civilization
20 MARCH 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Homer, living centuries before the Classical era of Athens, is renowned for his epic tales of an even earlier time, when the Mycenaeans of the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1600–1100 B.C.)—with a rich warrior aristocracy and wide-ranging trade—came to rule the land and the seas. Archaeologists have uncovered great Mycenaean cities, like Mycenae and Pylos, extraordinary circular burial chambers, elegant frescoes, even written language, as well as widespread evidence of Mycenaean expansion and trade—but no harbors or port towns to help them understand the far-flung connections, or the rapid expansion and equally sudden demise, of this ancient Greek culture—until now.
New Discoveries at the Ash Altar of Zeus, Mt. Lykaion, Offer Insights into Early Origins of Ancient Greece's Most Powerful God
Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project Finds Early Activity Atop Arcadia’s Famous Mountain 22 JANUARY 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Greek traveler, Pausanias, living in the second century, CE, would probably recognize the spectacular site of the Sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion, and particularly the altar of Zeus. At 4,500 feet above sea level, atop the altar provides a breathtaking, panoramic vista of Arcadia.
The Middle Mekong Archaological Project, Joint Effort of Penn Museum and Department of Museums and Archaeology in Laos, Completes Survey and Test Excavation Seasons
International Partnership Project Seeks to Fill in the Blanks of Southeast Asian Prehistory 19 OCTOBER 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—As archaeologists in the last half century have set about reconstructing the prehistory of Southeast Asia, data from one country—centrally located Laos—was conspicuously missing. Little archaeology has occurred in Laos since before World War II, and beginning in the mid-1970s, Laos shut its doors completely to outside researchers. International scholars had to content themselves with information from excavation and survey work mostly from neighboring Thailand.
Update: Cultural Heritage Issues in War-torn Iraq and Afghanistan Free Evening Program at Penn Museum
08 MAY 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—On Monday, May 14th at 6:00 p.m., the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology offers a special free program, What is Happening Today in Iraq and Afghanistan?, a timely update on cultural heritage and cultural property issues in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Richard Zettler, Curator-in-charge, Near East Section, Penn Museum, and Dr. Fredrik Hiebert of the National Geographic Society, a Research Associate at Penn Museum, share their perspectives at this program, co-sponsored by the Center for Ancient Studies and the Middle East Center, University of Pennsylvania:
Two 4600 Year Old Skulls from Famous Excavations at Royal Tombs of Ur, Iraq Traveled to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania For CAT Scans
16 APRIL 2007, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Two ancient skulls, circa 2600 BCE, one bedecked with gold ornaments, one with a copper helmet, traveled from storage at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to the Radiology Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, for a state-of-the-art CAT scan procedure.
Penn Museum Curator Gregory Possehl Sets Sail Beside the Re-created Reed Boat "Magan" Following Historic Trade Route Journey From Oman to India
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.
9,000 Year History of Chinese Fermented Beverages Confirmed By Penn Museum Archaeochemist and an International Team of Scholars
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.
Archaeologists Discover Evidence that Courtiers Were Sacrificed to Accompany Early Egyptian Kings into the Afterlife
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.
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