Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/465

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

not only for the work of instruction, but also for research and investigation.

It will be impossible within the scope of this paper to adequately describe all the various activities of the university, so I shall confine myself to those departments in which the chief contributions to science have been made. The Department of Archæology and Paleontology, which illustrates the prehistoric antiquities of America, as well as the remains of highly developed Oriental civilizations, has enlisted the services and energies of the ablest scholars. As a result of their labors, the University of Pennsylvania has put the scientific world under lasting obligations by placing the slumbering witnesses of nations that have perished at the service of science. The Museum of Archaeology and Paleontology may trace back its humble origin to the spring of 1888, when a few casts and squeezes of Babylonian inscriptions, some Etruscan and Roman pottery, a number of Palmyrene tombstones, and other miscellaneous antiquities were gathered together and placed under the care of the Professor of Assyriology, Dr. Hermann V. Hilprecht. On October 23, 1880, a little company met at a dinner given by Mr. Francis C. Macauley, at the Philadelphia Club. There were present Dr. William Pepper, then provost of the university; Dr. Joseph Leidy, President of the Academy of Natural Sciences; Maxwell Sommerville, the collector and student of engraved gems; Dr. Daniel G. Brinton, the Americanist; Dr. Horace Jayne, dean of the university faculty; Dr. Charles C. Abbott, the well-known archaeologist; Henry C. Mercer, Prof. E. D. Cope, and the host, Mr. Macauley, whose enthusiastic interest in archaeological research had led him to bring together these distinguished men of science for the purpose of stimulating and extending the interest in archæological studies, and to establish a museum of archaeology in the city of Philadelphia. The project from the first received the cordial support of Provost Pepper, and early in the month following it was announced that the university had established the Museum of Archæology and Paleontology, for which a staff of officers was appointed and Dr. Charles C. Abbott installed as curator.

The formation of a museum, however, had only been part of a scheme in which a most important place had been given to the prosecution of original investigation and the arousing of a more general interest in the subject of archaeology. To obtain funds for prosecuting explorations and to enlist the support of people of cultivated taste in the work, a society was formed under the title of the University Archæological Association. This organization, which now numbers over two hundred members, has largely contributed to the results achieved. In 1891, in consequence of the great interest manifested in the museum and the successful ex-