Penn Museum’s Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials Launches in Fall 2014

Public invited to tour new facilities as part of museum’s 
International Archaeology Day celebration Saturday, October 18.

PHILADELPHIA, PA 2014—This fall, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, in conjunction with Penn Arts and Sciences, launches the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM), housed in a newly renovated suite of conservation and teaching laboratories in the Museum’s West Wing. The new Center will offer the facilities, materials, equipment, and expert personnel to teach and mentor undergraduate and graduate students in a range of scientific techniques crucial to archaeologists and other scholars as they seek to interpret the past. Study will be arranged around eight disciplines: ceramics, digital archaeology, archaeobotany, archaeozoology, human skeletal analysis, lithics, archaeometallurgy, and conservation.

“With the teaching of materials examination and analysis—as well as digital archaeology—added to our existing capacity for teaching with collections, extensive and varied fieldwork opportunities, a renowned program in historic preservation, and established archaeological coursework across several departments and programs, CAAM sets Penn and its Museum apart as a leading teaching center for archaeology throughout the world,” said Julian Siggers, Penn Museum Williams Director. “The new Center will bring together the laboratories, equipment, and teaching personnel who will enable exciting learning and discovery to take place at all levels, from introductory courses to Ph.D. theses.”

“The Museum is one of Penn’s unique assets, and its research agenda and collections integrate powerfully with the research and teaching mission of the School,” said Arts and Sciences Dean Steven J. Fluharty. “This Center will create incredible new opportunities for our undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty and advance Penn’s reputation further in an area where we have long excelled.”

New Facilities Made Possible by Visionary Support

The Center is housed in a suite of new laboratories and teaching spaces on the first floor of the Penn Museum’s West Wing, renovated this summer in the final phase of an expansive, $18-million project initiated in 2010. The full project has included renovation of the West Wing’s five public galleries, HVAC installation, and the restoration of the Widener Lecture Room (which can accommodate up to 140 students for lectures or classes in conjunction with lab-based instruction, and also can be used for a wide range of public events).

A Ceramics lab, completed in 2011, provides a research, teaching and mentoring space that already has been put to use by ceramics expert Dr. Marie-Claude Boileau. The newly renovated teaching spaces include a general-purpose teaching and research lab with a fume hood; a lab designed for the teaching of Human Skeletal Analysis and other specialties, a general-purpose wet lab, and a larger classroom. The adjacent Kowalski Digital Media Center contains a Digitization Lab which will be adapted to house Digital Archaeology courses as CAAM brings its full course roster online over the next several years.

The West Wing renovation has also provided state-of-the-art work spaces for Penn Museum’s Conservation Department, which now has a large new laboratory complemented by specialist rooms for x-ray and photography, and a seminar room/library—facilities that will greatly enhance the Department’s ability to care for the nearly one million objects in the Museum’s Collection. The Department has played a leading role in conservation training, having hosted more than 50 interns and fellows since 1971, and conservation courses will be offered as part of the CAAM curriculum.  

The newly renovated laboratories, teaching spaces, and amenities are housed in a space of about 8,000 square feet.

Renovation of the Conservation and Teaching Laboratories, which enabled CAAM to go from vision to reality, was made possible by a host of generous donors with a deep commitment to the future of archaeological research. Lead supporters were A. Bruce and Margaret Mainwaring, Charles K. Williams, II, Daniel G. Kamin, Frederick J. Manning, Carrie and Ken Cox, Joseph and Bonnie Lundy, Bayard and Frances Storey, and two anonymous donors.

Teaching and Learning Program

Steve Tinney, Museum Deputy Director, Associate Curator-in-Charge, Babylonian Section, and Clark Research Associate Professor of Assyriology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, is the new Director of CAAM.  Guided by a Faculty Steering Committee, CAAM is the major new initiative in the Museum’s Teaching and Learning Program.

Through the Teaching and Learning Program, the Museum offers hands-on collections access to students and faculty for a wide range of research activities in addition to the materials analysis that will be offered by CAAM. Examples of courses enhanced by the study of objects in the Museum’s Collections Study Room last spring included Age of the Samurai; Artists, Exhibitions, and Museums; and Images in Conflict: A Visual History of Violence.  Since its opening in 2012, the Collections Study Room has hosted more than 2,200 Penn students and 56 faculty from 17 departments, providing hands-on, object based learning experiences with the Museum’s international Collection.

A Penn Faculty Steering Committee drawn from several departments in Arts and Sciences and from the School of Design guided the selection of specialties around which CAAM will be structured.  In addition to courses, independent study and research mentoring will be offered from introductory to advanced levels, enabling both undergraduate and graduate students to develop from their first experiences with laboratory-based analysis into independent researchers. CAAM teaching specialists will be available to make contributions to a wide array of courses in a range of departments, and will support the research mission and activities of the Museum.

Penn Freshmen who selected to participate in a new seminar course, “Food and Fire: Archaeology in the Laboratory,” will be among the first to explore and learn in the new Center. Taught by Mainwaring Teaching Specialist Dr. Kate Moore, an archaeozoology expert experienced both in the laboratory and in the field, the course will make extensive use of the Museum’s collections and facilities, introducing students to a range of analytical techniques practiced in CAAM. This introductory course will prepare students to continue to second-tier courses in Organic and Inorganic Analysis, and then to intensive laboratory courses in the eight CAAM specialties.


microscopeStudents use microscopes with guidance from Dr. Marie-Claude Boileau in the Ceramics lab, part of the new Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials housed in the Penn Museum (Photo: Mark Stehle).


conservationstudio2Conservator Julia Lawson examines objects from the Penn Museum’s collections, in the new Conservation Studio at the Penn Museum (Photo: Penn Museum).


classroomDr. Katherine Moore, Mainwaring Teaching Specialist, speaks to students in her “Food and Fire: Archaeology in the Laboratory” seminar for freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania. The class is held in the new classroom in the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials at the Penn Museum (Photo: Penn Museum).


A Public Open House

The Museum is offering the public a chance to see the new labs and learn more about the kind of work that will take place in CAAM.  On Saturday, October 18, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, the Museum celebrates International Archaeology Day with a host of activities designed to interest all ages.  Guests can sign up for behind-the-scenes tours of the Conservation and Teaching Labs, where conservators, researchers and students will demonstrate equipment and talk about their work. International Archaeology Day also includes an up-closed look at an ancient mummy at an interactive station, short talks on archaeology, a “What in the World” game show, a family craft station, and a kid-friendly obstacle course worthy of Indiana Jones. The afternoon is co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Archaeology.


About the Penn Museum

Founded in 1887, the Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology), located at 3260 South Street in Philadelphia, is one of the world’s great archaeology and anthropology research museums, and the largest university museum in the United States. With nearly one million objects in the collection, the Penn Museum encapsulates and illustrates the human story: who we are and where we came from. A dynamic research institution with many ongoing research projects, the Museum is an engaging place of discovery. The Museum’s mandate of research, teaching, collections stewardship, and public engagement are the four “pillars” of the Museum’s expansive mission: to transform understanding of the human experience.


Cover Photo: A wide shot of the new Conservation Studio at the Penn Museum (Photo: Penn Museum).

Source: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology press release.


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