Philadelphia's Penn Museum: Stories Behind the Ancient Artifacts with Jayne Yantz
Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology houses a spectacular collection of global artifacts–including gold and lapis lazuli from ancient Iraq, an Egyptian sphinx with a surprising history, and Ivories and Bronzes from Africa that tell a story of kings and conquest. Their collections also hold magnificent objects in a recently renovated Mesoamerican gallery, stunning works from China, Japan, Italy, and Greece.
Our conversation will highlight a series of amazing objects found at Penn Museum, place them in their cultural context, and narrate how many of these objects became part of the museum collection. Among the treasures, we will see a Qing dynasty crystal sphere from China—once stolen from the museum! We'll also learn about several antiquities from ancient Greece and Rome, including the Etruscans, a culture that predates the rise of Rome.
We also encounter splendid objects accompanying sacrificial victims in “The Great Death Pit” at the cemetery in Ur, home of Biblical Abraham. To dig deeper into biblical archaeology, we interpret the museum's rare, ancient fragment from the flood story. From Africa, we can smile at the clever use of proverbs employed to teach with Asante gold weights and marvel at the craftsmanship of the royal bronzes from Benin. These objects are part of a global discussion on repatriation. From ancient Egypt, we can examine both human and animal mummies, Ka statues (where the spirit of the dead resided), and grave goods—offerings to serve the dead in the next life. There is also a statue of King Tut created after his father’s death—a pharaoh who happened to start a religious revolution.
Representing the New World, Penn Museum provides an opportunity to highlight an ancient Peruvian jaguar vessel used to prepare hallucinogens for shamans, totem poles from Native Americans of the Northwest Coast, and Mexican ceramics and carvings–including an endearing Colima dog whose job was likely leading the dead to the afterlife.
Led by an Art Historian, Jayne Yantz, we will evaluate several of the Penn Museum's most fascinating masterpieces. By the conclusion of this conversation, participants will have encountered not just artistic treasures, but also insight into their meaning and historical context. This conversation is designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels to the Penn Museum.
Jayne Yantz completed graduate work in art history and anthropology before beginning a career in college teaching. She specializes in non-Western art and European Old Masters, has traveled extensively to see the works of art she teaches, and believes it is important to continue learning throughout life. Jayne has received continued recognition for teaching excellence, including the Teacher of the Year award from her college. She currently lives in the New Jersey Pinelands on a nature preserve.