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Archeological Excavations

Pennsylvania University Archeological Excavations

Excavation found lion pottery pictureDuring the fifty years between 1888 and 1939 the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania sent its own archeological expeditions from Philadelphia and worked with other institutions in many important sites in Mesopotamia, Iran (Persia), Palestine, Egypt, Crete, Cyprus, Italy, Bohemia, and Crimea. From these excavations a rich harvest of knowledge was garnered about life in the centuries between 4000 B.C. and 500 A.D., and this is slowly being pieced together to make a picture of the past.

From 1888 to 1900 the University Museum carried on excavations in Nippur, the Assyrian capital, the first American institution to do archeological work in Mesopotamia. In 1922, in collaboration with the British Museum, it began excavation of the temple tower and palaces at [[Ur of the Chaldees]] as well as in the Royal Cemetery. A large part of the Mesopotamian display came from these periods.

Persian pottery and gold and bronze work came from Tepe Hissar in Iran, and from the well-known Biblical site of Beth-shan in Palestine there is pottery such as would have been found in the homes of Old Testament days.

Egyptian treasures, ranging from about 3400 B.C. to around 300 A.D., are varied in material and use as well as in age.

Excavations in the classical world from 1901 to the present contributed several pieces of unusual pottery from Crete and Cyprus, a satyr’s head found in Tarquinia, Italy, and a marble head of Hygiea from Minturnae, a pre-Roman Italian town. The last was dug by the University Museum in 1931 during what have been the only excavations conducted by Americans on Italian soil.

As part of its bicentennial celebration, the University of Pennsylvania assembled “Fifty Years of OId World Archeology,” an exhibit of sixty-six specimens excavated during this period by expeditions of the University Museum. Touring various cities throughout the country, it was displayed in the Museum of Science for four weeks, beginning April 24, 1940.