An archaeology museum in Philadelphia has made an extraordinary find—in its own storage rooms.
The Penn Museum, part of the University of Pennsylvania, announced Tuesday that it had rediscovered a 6,500-year-old human skeleton believed to have been a man at least 50 who stood 5 feet, 9 inches (1.75 meters) tall. The remains were originally excavated from southern Iraq around 1930.
Museum officials said the complete human skeleton had been stored in a coffin-like box but with no trace of identifying documentation.
Skeletons of the same time period, particularly complete remains, are extremely rare, the Penn researchers said. They hope a skeletal analysis will reveal more about the population’s diet, stresses and ancestral origins. Read more.
This week, a team of archaeologists broke the asphalt in four places at Weccecoe Park, digging to a depth of 3 feet to uncover evidence of the 19th century burial site. On Thursday morning, the fourth and final trench revealed a single gravestone.
"Amelia Brown, 1819, Aged 26 years" is clearly carved into the white stone, with this epitaph:
"Whosoever live and believeth in me, though we be dead, yet shall we live."
"There is no grave shaft associated with that stone, it’s just sitting loose in the fill," said Douglas Mooney, senior archaeologist for URS corporation. "It was knocked over at some point, long ago, when the cemetery was filled in in the mid-19th century. It no longer marks an actual grave. It’s just a loose stone in the ground." Read more.
PHILADELPHIA – The Penn Museum is unwrapping the mystery of mummy conservation, giving the public an unusual close-up of researchers’ efforts to preserve relics from ancient Egypt.
Human and animal mummies, as well as an intricately inscribed coffin, are among the items undergoing treatment and repair at the Philadelphia institution’s newly installed Artifact Lab.
Housed in a special gallery, the glass-enclosed workspace lets visitors share in “the thrill of discovery,” museum director Julian Siggers said.
"It demonstrates to you the work that’s actually being done behind the walls of these galleries," Siggers said.
Visitors can watch staff members use microscopes, brushes and other tools of the trade to inspect, study and preserve items including the mummy of a 5-year-old girl, several human heads, a colorful but damaged sarcophagus, and a painting from a tomb wall. Read more.
PHILADELPHIA — Ancient Israel was always at the epicenter of political, religious and moral change from the biblical period of Kings David and Solomon to Second Temple times when the Greeks and Romans ruled the land and the birth of Jesus was at hand. These turbulent and transformative times shaped western culture and gave rise to Judaism, Christianity and eventually, Islam.
On May 12, The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia opens Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times, a new exhibition that explores that rich history with the largest collection of artifacts from biblical to Islamic periods ever to tour outside of Israel. Running through Oct. 14, the exhibition features more than 600 objects, including a 3-ton stone from Jerusalem’s Western Wall and 20 extremely rare fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls collection. They will be displayed in two sets of 10 for approximately three months each. Read more.
In a major new exhibition opening in May in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, scientists will take the public through the facts behind the recent hoopla about the end of the world predicted to take place in December, 2012, and how it originated with the ancient Maya calendar system and the Maya civilization.
The “end of the world” excitement was highlighted by a series of various media splashes about claims that the ancient Maya predicted a cataclysmic event at the end of their calendar, purportedly ending on December 23, 2012. The predictions run the gamut between those that believe that a celestial alignment will bring a series of devastating natural disasters, to those that say that the event will bring enlightenment and a new age of peace. As December 2012 draws closer, new predictions are emerging. But some scholars and scientists hope to be able to dispel the myths and present the facts through a visual public presentation of the mechanisms and culture that underly the Maya calendar system, including recent major discoveries at the ancient Maya center of Copán in Honduras, Central America. Read more.
Penn Museum in Philadelphia has developed the world’s largest collection of hominid fossil casts, most of them painstakingly recreated from molds of important original fossils in what makes up the human evolutionary record. Over several decades, these molds have been made at different sites around the globe by physical anthropologists Janet Monge (Associate Curator of the Physical Anthropology Collection) and Alan Mann (Curator Emeritus of that collection).
The importance of those casts to the ongoing study of human evolution remains, even in this age of three dimensional scans and other hi tech imagery, vital. The reproduction casts from those molds are requested by teachers and scholars around the world, as they allow students and scholars to study and compare fossils from disparate parts of the world, learning from the direct evidence. Read more.
With all the development that has occurred in Philadelphia, archaeologists thought it unlikely they would ever find significant remnants of early Native American cultures.
Those artifacts would have been deeply buried, carted away, or crushed.
But not long ago, along I-95 in North Philadelphia, they uncovered tobacco pipes, arrowheads, pottery, and other Native American artifacts dating back 3,000 years.
Near Mount Holly, they have begun to unearth portions of the African American community of Timbuctoo, founded in the 1820s and a station on the Underground Railroad.
Many of the thousands of artifacts collected so far elicit memories - and rich stories - from descendants of the original residents. Read more.
For over 3,000 years, hunter gatherers plied eastern Pennsylvania looking for game and edible plants. Along the way, they sought protection from the cold and rain.
Some of these Lenape ancestors found refuge in rock shelters, two of which were discovered in 1947 in the Broomall section of Marple Township, 10 miles west of Philadelphia.
After many years, the Museum of Indian Culture in Allentown has acquired the collection of artifacts from the Broomall Rock Shelters and is featuring them in an exhibit, Mystery Unearthed: The Extraordinary Story of Two Lenape Rock Shelters. Read more.