Penn Museum Rediscovers 6,500-Year-Old Skeleton

penn museum uri skeletonThe Penn Museum recently announced it has re-discovered a skeleton in its own archives. The skeleton, which had been in a “coffin-like” box in the basement of the museum for 85 years, is thought to be about 6,500 years old.

The museum knew it had a “mystery” skeleton in the basement for years now, but it had lost the identifying information on it. It simply sat there, unidentified and untouched. It wasn’t until the museum began a project to digitize records from archaeological expeditions to Ur (what is now southern Iraq) in the ’20s and ’30s that it was able to identify the skeleton.

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Penn Museum Rediscovers Ancient Skeleton In Storage Room

This morning, the Penn Museum announced that it found a 6,500-year-old (!) skeleton that had been hidden away in its storage closets. More Philly Mag News:

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Drs. Janet Monge and William Hafford investigate the 6,500-year-old skeleton. Photo: by Kyle Cassidy.

The museum knew it had a “mystery” skeleton in the basement for years now, but it had lost the identifying information on it. It simply sat there, unidentified and untouched. It wasn’t until the museum began a project to digitize records from archaeological expeditions to Ur (what is now southern Iraq) in the ’20s and ’30s that it was able to identify the skeleton.

One of the skeletons the Penn Museum received after an expedition was marked as missing in 1990. But William Hafford, who led the digitization effort, and Janet Monge, the curator of the physical anthropology section of the museum, were able to connect this record of a skeleton.

A visual inspection made by Penn Museum archeologists revealed the skeleton was that of a man, who lived to about 50 and was “well-muscled.” The museum has about 2,000 complete human skeletons in its collection.

Monge was just named Best of Philly’s Best Museum Curator. You can read more about her work with the mystery skeleton, and what the Museum hopes to learn from it, here.

Best of Philly Snapshot: Janet Monge, Best Museum Curator

best-of-philly-2014-logo-400x400You’ve caught Janet Monge at a rare moment when her purple reading glasses are down. They’re dangling from a lanyard right now, a telltale sign she’s on break from the clay and dust, which doesn’t prevent a colleague from interrupting her at the cafe of the Penn Museum:

“I was just asked a question on Twitter about a fellow who might be in the Morton Collection — a man by the name of Alexander Pearce?”

Like a human Rolodex, Monge mentally cycles through the 10,000 people she works with under the roof of the museum, all ranging in age, ethnicity and general put-togetherness. Some have spines; others don’t. The vast majority are dead. Pearce is one of those, and super-famous. “Oh yes, we have Pearce,” Monge says. “He was executed. He was a cannibal.”

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Going Native At The Penn Museum’s Cafe

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Have you ever eaten at – or even seen — a restaurant specializing in Native American foods in the Philly area? No, I haven’t either, and I have to admit that until this moment, it never occurred to me to miss it. But from now until April 6, the Penn Museum is running Native American lunch specials in its Pepper Mill Café to coincide with its temporary exhibition, Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now.

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A Night by the Nile With Yelp Philadelphia

Calling all ghouls and undead foodies: it’s time to party. Yelp Philadelphia is hosting a Halloween party on Wednesday, October 31st, from 8 to 10p.m. at the mummy-tastic Penn Museum.

The party, appropriately named Yelp’s Night by the Nile, will feature a guided tour of the museum’s mummy exhibition, a talk with a conservator about the mummification process, and personal time with a real, (not) live mummy. Of course there will be food and drink complimentary of local restaurants and vendors as well as a DJ and photo booth.

Admission into the party is free though a $10 donation to Alex’s Lemonade Stand is encouraged; all you have to do is RSVP through Yelp Events.

Tonight: Drinking Tequila With The Mayans

You know what’s awesome? Turning what is suposed to be an educational and enlightening experience into an excuse to get drunk at the museum. The problem is, short of hip flasks or cleverly concealed pony kegs, getting tipsy and then licking the exhibits is not often an easy proposition.

So isn’t it nice that the good people at the Penn Museum have made it simple for you by offering a Patron tequila tasting tonight right on the grounds? For $30 ($25 for members), you’ll get access to the Lords of Tequila event, which includes a cocktail out in the Warden Garden, followed by a “tutored tequila tasting” which will “explore the history and tradition of Patrón’s signature brand along with special Maya-themed appetizers”–in addition to getting you a little bit lubed up in anticipation of heading deeper into the museum to experience all the End Times weirdness explored in the Maya 2012: Lords of Time exhibit.

Sounds like a damn fine way to spend a Thursday night to me.

Lords of Tequila [Official website]

Tickets [Penn Museum]

If the End of the World is Coming, At Least We’ll be Well Fed

The Maya exhibition at the Penn Museum is a big bummer. C’mon, we don’t want to be told with scholarly guarantee that the whole end-of-the-Maya-calendar-end-of-the-world thing is an American fabrication most likely perpetuated by holy rollers who believe that kind of crap anyway.  If the world’s not ending, what’s our excuse for spending the rest of this year in unabashed and debauched gluttony?

So, being a good foodie, you should skip the exhibition and just go there for lunch. As part of the exhibition, which opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 13, 2013 (there they go spoiling the surprise again), a robust offering of traditional and modern Maya food will be showcased in the Pepper Mill Café.

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Philly Beer Week Co-Founder Passes Away

Philadelphia Beer Week Co-founder and local beer “gatekeeper” Bruce Nichols passed away Monday, November 30th after a brief fight with leukemia. Even if you did not know him personally, you’ve probably been touched by his accomplishments.

The president and co-owner of Museum Catering, Nichols brought beer writer Michael Jackson to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of of Archaeology and Anthropology for the first time in 1991. An event repeated for 17-years and cited as triggering Philadelphia’s beer culture.  By the time of Jackson’s passing in 2007 Nichols had become passionate about beer. Nichols joined forces with Tom Peters of Monk’s Cafe and Don “Joe Sixpack” Russell to begin Philly Beer Week. An event that in 3 short years has become one of the biggest beer-focused events in the world.

Nichols was 62.

More on Bruce Nichols

Bruce Nichols – Philly Beer Icon – Passes Away [Carolyn Smagalski - Bella Online]
We lost a good friend on Tuesday [Tom Peter's - Monk's Cafe]
Bruce Nichols, RIP [Jack Curtin - Liquid Diet/Beer Yard]

Uncorking The Past

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Thursday, October 8th the Penn Museum is presenting an evening of talks, tutored tastings and a book signing with Penn Museum’s Patrick McGovern and Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione.

All three recreated ancient ales from Dogfish Head (Midas Touch, Chateau Jiahu and Theobroma) will be featured plus a surprise beverage. Could it be the Latin corn beer described here?

Tickets are $60, $45 for Penn Museum members. and can be purchased online.

Uncorking the Past: Ancient Ales, Wines and Extreme Beverages [Penn Museum]
Uncoriking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages [Berkeley Press]