university of pennsylvania museum of archaeology and anthropology

Plot synopsis for the upcoming action-horror film, the Mummy (2017), indicates that the lead antagonist will be an ancient Mesopotamian queen “whose destiny was unjustly taken from her.” Tom Cruise will play a Navy SEAL on a mission in the Iraqi desert whose team stumbles upon an ancient tomb where an evil entity is trapped. This doomed queen/mummy could be inspired by the sensationalized 1920s and 1930s news stories of British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley’s excavation of Queen Puabi’s tomb. Puabi (AKA Shubad) was depicted as a wicked queen who poisoned her servants and she herself was clubbed to death. This film is the first blockbuster production in recent memory to bring the pop culture eye to ancient Mesopotamia and Babylonia. The treasures and jewelry collection of Puabi’s famous tomb are kept at the British Museum, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the National Museum of Iraq.

A news story about Queen Puabi published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday Magazine in September 28, 1930. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA.

Photo by Babylon Chronicle

Neolithic Wine Jar from Hasanlu, Iran, c. 6th Millennium BCE

This “Wine Jar” was found at the ancient site of Hasanlu in Hajji Firuz Tepe, North West Iran. It is one of a series of jars found sunken into the floor along an interior wall of a “kitchen” in a well-preserved Neolithic house at Hajji Furuz Tepe. The jar had a capacity of approximately 9 liters (2.5 gallons). It is the oldest known wine storage container in the world. 

The practice of wine-making, or viniculture, can be traced back to the Neolithic period, 7,000 years ago when the first Eurasian grape vines were domesticated for this purpose. Residue analysis of the jar showed that it had contained a resinated wine; wine with terebinth tree or pine resin added as a preservative and medical agent. There was a red to go with the white wine, based on the colors of the residues.

The jar is held in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.