University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Welcome to the Penn Museum blog. First launched in January 2009, the Museum blog now has over 800 posts covering a range of topics in the categories of Museum, Collection, Exhibitions, Research, and By Location. Here you’ll hear directly from our staff and Penn students about their work, research, experiences, and discoveries. To explore the Museum's other digital content, visit The Digital Penn Museum.


Getting the Right Perspective

By: Anne Tiballi and Emily French

This summer, I got to spend two awesome months in Italy. I am a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World program, recently recovered from my last year of coursework and PhD exams and about to jump headfirst into a dissertation. This summer was particularly valuable for me at this […]

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Buddhist Statues, Inside and Out

By: Samantha Thompson

To the untrained eye, the Sakyamuni Buddha in the China Gallery appears visually similar to other nearby Buddha sculptures. While it borrows from traditional Buddhist iconography found during the Yuan Dynasty, certain aspects of the sculpture are unique to this Sakyamuni Buddha. The sculpture was made with dry-lacquer, a rare and laborious technique, and strikes […]

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Juvenile Osteology Workshop: Analysis of the Individuals from Patakfalva

By: Anne Tiballi and Julia Simons

This summer, I attended a workshop on Juvenile Osteology in Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania. The students in the field school (“fieldies”) work at the excavation site, excavating, mapping, and pulling the skeletons buried at the church at Patakfalva, while the students in the lab (“labbies”) analyze the individuals excavated in previous field sessions. The individuals from […]

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Art or Ethnography?

By: Anne Tiballi and Christopher Green

Museums in the US, England, France, and throughout the world are full of objects collected during their respective colonial periods. Museums have been grappling with the colonial legacies embodied in their collections and how to represent them, and no singular answer has emerged. However, at the end of the 20th century, a movement pioneered by […]

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Puabi’s Ever-Evolving Diadems

By: Idil Demirdag

All the objects in the Penn Museum have incredible histories. Few of them have a journey as enigmatic and evolving as Queen Puabi’s diadems. In fact, the three individual pieces of diadems seen in the Middle East Galleries right now were once displayed as a six-piece set, and prior to that were all part of […]

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Illustrating History: An Interview with John Pearson

Warrior's Grave Illustration

By: Julianna Whalen

As I walk down the street, I pass donkeys carrying food in saddlebags and children making their way home. They weave through tight streets and around dogs laying in the middle of the path. Birds flit through the sky. As I make my way toward the ziggurat, a crescent moon begins to rise over the […]

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Archaeological Survey in Vayots Dzor

By: Colin Roberts and Christopher Besser

For the month of June 2018, a team from the University of Pennsylvania surveyed Vayots Dzor, Armenia, under the direction of Dr. Peter J. Cobb from the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM) and Dr. Elvan Cobb of Cornell University, as part of the Open Archaeology project. Support for the project came from the […]

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Great Ape Explorations in Washington, DC

By: Anne Tiballi and Alexandra Kralick

In curly browned script, on paper flaking in my hands, the inscription next to the specimen number read, “the leg and jaw were broken by fall from trees when shot. Had a young one with her.” Putting down W. L. Abott’s 1907 record book, I ran to the post-crania room and pulled out her bones. Sure enough, […]

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Language Expertise Is Not a Bounded Experience

By: Anne Tiballi and Aldo Anzures Tapia

The University of Pennsylvania has established a partnership with the Caste War Museum in Tihosuco, a Mayan community in Quintana Roo, Mexico, which has been materialized as the Tihosuco Heritage and Preservation Community Project. As an originally conceived public archaeology endeavor, this project has responded to the needs of the community by bringing expertise and […]

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Flight into the Museum Archives

Dinner at Descalvados

By: Julianna Whalen

“This will confirm your assignment as Flight Operator to the NC146M, which is being chartered by the Matto Grosso Expedition for service in the interior of Brasil [sic] for a period of at least four months. Its base will be Desclavados [sic, Descalvados], Matto Grosso, which is about one thousand miles from Rio de Janeiro.” […]

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