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.