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The Deep Dig

Jewelry from the Ancient World

Live Online

Thursdays, Feb. 1 - 22, 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm ET

$175 General | $125 Member

Deep Dig title text laid over image of jewelry made of beads and gold leaves.

Jewelry holds so much significance beyond just being decorative. It’s like a wearable history, telling stories of culture, traditions, and personal journeys. Join archaeologist Jane Hickman, Ph.D., on a foray into the captivating world of ancient adornment in this 4-week virtual class

Uncover the artistry and significance of jewelry across Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Americas. Explore intricate manufacturing techniques of ancient craftspeople, and discover the rich tapestry of decorative elements, including pearls, precious metals, gemstones, and faience (glazed ceramic).

Learn more about the extensive jewelry collection at the Penn Museum, much of which was excavated in the early 20th century by Penn archaeologists. Hear fascinating stories about the discovery and excavation of jewelry by archaeologists around the world.

Join us for a riveting exploration where history, culture, style, and the allure of buried treasure converge.

Week 1: Explore why archaeologists study jewelry, delve into the origins of the first gold jewelry in tombs, and examine enduring manufacturing techniques from ancient times to the present. The session provides an overview of jewelry's insights into ancient and modern cultures, discussing raw materials like gold, silver, precious stones, and semi- precious stones, as well as unique materials such as feathers and animal teeth.

Week 2: Travel around the world with a focus on the Penn Museum’s collection of ancient jewelry. Hear exciting stories associated with excavations that uncovered priceless gold jewelry and other treasures. Visit ancient tombs in Egypt, the jungles of Borneo, and the River of Gold in Panama. Learn about the Penn Museum’s most eccentric donor, Philadelphia’s Maxwell Sommerville, who bequeathed a vast collection of engraved gems.

Week 3: Learn about one of the most fantastic discoveries of the early 20th century— the Royal Cemetery of Ur in Mesopotamia. One of the Penn Museum’s first major expeditions uncovered tombs containing a wealth of jewelry. A review of jewelry from the Death Pit of Queen Puabi, seen through exceptional close-up photography, reveals much about how Puabi lived and the rituals that took place before she was buried.

Week 4: Dr. Hickman concludes the course with a journey from Bactrian royal burials to Turkish gold jewelry from Troy, a 6th-century BCE burial in Gordion, and a preview of her upcoming book on 3rd millennium BCE Minoan jewelry from Crete.

About the Instructor

Jane Hickman examining beaded jewelry.

Jane Hickman, Ph.D.

Jane Hickman received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. She specializes in the study of gold and silver jewelry and is currently writing a book titled Minoan Gold and Silver: Jewelry in Prepalatial Crete.

Member Preview

January 30, 2024

7:00–7:45 pm

Members are invited to a free preview of this course. Join us for a sneak peek of the content, meet the instructor, and ask questions. Not a member? Join today.