Video Library

The National Arts Club presents returning lecturer Dr. Jane Hickman, Consulting Scholar in the Mediterranean Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, who discusses gold jewelry discovered in Crete. Jane’s lecture begins at 6:40 after a long introduction.

Models (including the central watchtower), 1st–early 3rd century C.E. (Eastern Han dynasty), earthernware with green lead glaze, China, 104.1 x 57.5 x 29.8 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) speakers: Dr. Cortney Chaffin and Dr. Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank

Jar (Hu), c. 2650–2350 B.C.E., earthenware with painted decoration, Neolithic China, Banshan phase, 34 cm high (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) speakers: Dr. Cortney Chaffin and Dr. Steven Zucker

Mirror with game board design and animals of the four directions, 1st–2nd century C.E. (Han dynasty, China), bronze with black patina, 16.8 cm diameter (The Metropolitan Museum of Art) speakers: Dr. Cortney Chaffin and Dr. Beth Harris

Sir Leonard Woolley excavated at Ur from 1922 to 1934. He was jointly sponsored by the Penn Museum and the British Museum. Now, Penn is back to excavate and I thought I would make some short videos of the current conditions of the site and explain what it’s like and what it used to be like by comparing current work and old photographs. In this video, I walk through an area that Woolley dug in the 1930-31 season, an area he called AH. It was a residential area with about 50 houses excavated, though some may have been shops and others were community chapels. Today, almost 100 years later, soil has washed back into the houses as Woolley had excavated them, and the portion that still sticks above that soil has largely collapsed, resulting in what often looks like a heap of brick rubble. Preservation of the site is necessary and we are currently looking at ways to help with this, especially in the more visited areas around the ziggurat. But we are also thinking of ways to perhaps preserve some of the houses and definitely to protect anything we uncover in modern excavations. Ur is part of the Ahwar World Heritage site in southern Iraq and tourism is increasing. Protecting the site as well as helping people to understand it are major goals of our current work.

In this special episode of Artifactually Speaking, archaeologist Dr. Brad Hafford (that’s me) reacts to a video about the “Baghdad Battery” posted by Milo Rossi (@miniminuteman). Although the object is related to a conspiracy theory or two, it’s an actual ancient Near Eastern object, so it’s largely in my field. I talked about it on a podcast (Don’t Wreck Yourself, hosted by Ryan Placchetti) and was interested to find out more. So, by reacting to what Milo has to say about it, I have the opportunity to also talk about what I’ve learned in my journey of deep research into this enigmatic object.

I will be running an excavation field season for the next 6 weeks at the ancient city of Ur and hope to make many short videos during that time. In the meantime, I thought I’d upload this video I made about the Lagash Archaeological Project (LAP) this past March-April. It highlights the various activities we used in our work to understand the site and its surroundings, the time periods of its occupation, and most importantly the people who lived there.

Annual Petersen Lecture: Senior Fellow Megan Kassabaum, Weingarten Assistant Curator, American Section, Penn Museum.

Archaeologists generally agree that certain beliefs about the cosmos are broadly shared among indigenous peoples of the Americas. Though the details vary wildly, the world is generally seen as consisting of three layers—the Above World, the Middle World, and the Beneath World. While we live our every day lives in the Middle World, the Above and Beneath Worlds are inhabited by a variety of supernatural beings. One of the most intriguing characters to inhabit the Beneath World is the underwater panther, a composite creature with both feline and serpentine characteristics that is associated with the dangerous yet beneficial powers of rivers, waterfalls, whirlpools and caves.

Senior Fellow Megan Kassabaum, Weingarten Assistant Curator, American Section and Dr. Simon Martin, Associate Curator / Keeper, American Section

Myths concerning the “hero twins” are widespread from Canada to South America. In the archetypal Maya myth, a pair of twin brothers battle with a range of monsters and death deities as they seek to make the world safe for humankind. Instead of defeating their enemies in trials of strength, they outwit them in games of skill, ingenuity, and magic, offering role models of how best to survive death and ultimately attain rebirth into the sky. A variety of myths throughout North America draw on these same themes but differ dramatically in the details, thereby demonstrating the incredible antiquity of the basic story and the relationships between the diverse cultures of the New World.

Stretching over 2,500 miles from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River has been called “the Nile of North America.” Like its counterpart in Egypt, the Lower Mississippi Valley is among the richest archaeological regions on the continent. Home to thousands of earthen mounds, it contains both the oldest and the most elaborate monumental architecture in North America. Senior Fellow Megan Kassabaum explores the exceptional variability in the mounds themselves and the prehistoric cultures who constructed them.

Jan 25, 2019

In the Penn Museum’s series Dig In! we follow our host, Tom Stanley, as he discovers strange archeological facts and quirky stories from the Museum. Today’s episode is all about SHERDS!

Resident Sherd Nerd, Senior Fellow Megan Kassbaum, tells us what they are and why they matter, including some fun sherd facts you can use to impress your friends (or your professors!). Plus, you’ll learn a peculiar trick to tell the difference between sherds, rocks, and animal bones. Also – wine!

After this, you’ll never look at sherds in the same way.