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Virtual International Classroom

Bring world cultures, both past and present, directly from international educators and Museum-affiliated archaeologists and anthropologists directly into your home! Virtual International Classroom programs are live, 1-hour sessions and available for groups of all sizes. K-12 teachers, please visit our Interactive Virtual Learning page for programs suited for students.

Archaeology & Anthropology

Grid at an archaeological dig

Helping the Past Speak to Us

by Nick Eiteljorg, Ph.D.
Grades: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Adults
Archaeologists find artifacts in groups, not one at a time, using the whole of what is found to learn about the past. This workshop guides participants through a discussion of archaeological method, using three excavations as examples: one, the body of the speaker following his fictitious murder and the 300-years-after-the-fact recovery; two, the excavation of a cemetery in the Etruscan town that is now Orvieto, Italy; and three, the speaker’s excavation of the older, less monumental entrance to the Athenian Acropolis predating the grand Propylaea, which is still standing. Participants learn that the important information is the sum of what the artifacts can say when applied to the questions at hand. This talk includes a discussion of single artifacts found out of context and what is lost along with that context.

An entrance to a building at Petra, Jordan

Is Archaeology Really Like Indiana Jones?

by Stephen Phillips, Ph.D.
Petra, “The Rose-Red City Half as Old as Time,” is nestled in a mountainous basin in a remote, rugged corner of Jordan. As one of the “New Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,” Petra is famous for its more than 800 rock-cut tombs and monuments, including a Roman theater capable of seating as many as 8,500 people. Archaeological investigations at Petra continue to the present day — this presentation gives students exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to Dr. Phillips’ own work on an actual dig at the site, the Temple of the Winged Lions. Learn on-site excavation techniques, experience life on a dig in a distant land, and discover whether archaeology is really like it is in the movies.

The Great Pyramids at Giza

CSI: Ancient Egypt

Introduction to Forensic Anthropology

by Stephen Phillips, Ph.D.
To learn more about the physical aspects of humankind, both past and present, anthropologists developed methods and techniques to evaluate human skeletal remains—techniques that apply in modern forensic (criminal) investigations as well as in archaeological contexts. Using human remains from Dr. Phillips’ own excavation work in Egypt, this lecture introduces the audience to those scientific methods and techniques by analyzing images of actual ancient Egyptians, some as old as the pyramids themselves. Students will learn, in non-technical terms, the basic steps in determining a female from a male, younger from older, and other information that the bones can tell us about the person. A highlight of the lecture is a re-examination of a possible 3,300-year-old royal murder case—using modern forensics!

Close up of the shroud of Lady Dai

Mummies

Through Time, Across Continents

by Stephen Phillips, Ph.D.
When we think of mummies, ancient Egypt is often the first thing that comes to mind; we envision reanimated monsters coming back to life to walk the earth once again. This lecture explores the worldwide phenomenon of preserved human remains in a 5,000-year journey. There exists an amazing array of preserved human remains, some created deliberately, some naturally. We explore the presence of human mummies chronologically, as found on virtually all continents, spanning virtually all time periods. Enhanced by haunting images of preserved human remains, this presentation takes students on a journey of discovery that reveals just how widespread the existence of mummies actually is throughout a diverse collection of cultures around the world, all the way up to modern times.


Asia

A view of Singapore's skyline

Stories from the Tamil Diaspora

by Praveen Vijayakumar
What does it look like when worlds collide and create new communities? “Stories from the Tamil Diaspora” traces a Singaporean Tamil family’s history back to Tamil Nadu, India, in the early 20th century. The presenter shares experiences of British colonialism, Tamil performing arts practices, and Singapore’s transition from colony to an independent, multicultural, and global nation. Students will gain intimate insight into Singaporean culture, much of which is reflected in its cuisines. Through storytelling, participants are invited to personally engage with global cultures, reimagine past histories, and discuss positive futures.

A woman performing a dance

Sattriya

A Classical Dance Tradition

by Madhusmita Bora
In this workshop, a performer of the Sattriya Dance Company takes you on a journey through a 600-year-old dance tradition. Until recently, this dance was only preserved, nourished, and practiced by monks on a little island in northeast India. Students are exposed to stories from Hindu mythology through the dance and also learn about the monks and their lives. Along the way, students are led in movement exercises and learn some vocabulary of this ancient Indian tradition.


Egypt

A decorated Egyptian sarcophagus

I Want My Mummy!

by Stephen Phillips, Ph.D.
When we think of ancient Egypt’s mummies, we commonly associate them with books and movies that portray them as reanimated, vengeful monsters returning from death to wreak havoc upon the living. Where did such notions come from, and why? This workshop addresses that question by engaging students in a close examination into the at least 500-year history that led to why ancient Egypt’s mummies hold such a special fascination in our own culture. Unpublished images of actual ancient Egyptian mummies, including royal mummies such as Ramses II as well as human remains recovered as part of Dr. Phillips’ own excavations in Egypt, are used to illustrate how and why the Egyptians mummified their dead (including their pets!). This presentation is one of the Penn Museum’s most highly requested programs for middle schools and above.

Dried botanical remains from a tomb

Pharaoh’s Flowers

Botanical Treasures from the Tomb of Tutankhamun

by Stephen Phillips, Ph.D.
When we think of ancient Egypt, evocative images come to mind: the Nile River, the Pyramids, the Sphinx and, almost certainly, King Tutankhamun and his fabulous tomb. When we think of King Tut, equally evocative images come to mind, images of gold, jewels and of stunning artifacts from Egypt’s distant past. King Tut’s enigmatic golden death mask has held audiences spellbound for some eighty years, however, many people are not aware of the abundant flowers and other plant remains that were included in his tomb for his journey into the next world.

This richly illustrated lecture recounts the events that led up to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, next, we explore the botanical remains it held, literally the “Pharaoh’s Flowers.” We will see that like ourselves, the ancient Egyptians cherished the beauty of flowers and plants in this life, as well as in their afterlife. This is a detective story on two levels – one, how King Tut’s tomb was found, and two, could the flowers and plants in his tomb be clues in solving the puzzle of what caused the mysterious death of Tutankhamun?

Several sail boats sailing up the Nile

500 Miles Up the Nile

A Journey to Modern Ancient

by Stephen Phillips, Ph.D.
This photographic essay takes students along with Dr. Phillips and a tour group of intrepid friends on their extraordinary 14-day journey up the timeless Nile River. In post-revolution Egypt, they journey from Old Cairo and the Great Pyramids to Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, and onward to the mighty Temples of Philae and Abu Simbel. This presentation takes students on a virtual tour not only to experience first-hand the rich diversity of modern ancient Egypt, but also to reveal that not everything we read in newspapers, or see on TV, reflects the reality of life in a distant land.


Middle East

Yaroub Al-Obaidi giving a tour

Rebuilding New Life

Photo Memories from Iraq

by Yaroub Al-Obaidi
If you could choose only 10 items to fit in your backpack while leaving home for a new country, what would you bring? What would you leave behind? Will you choose based on your personal values or on necessity for survival? In this session, designer Yaroub Al-Obaidi, shares his long journey traveling from Iraq, through Syria, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and finally to Philadelphia. He “visits” each point of his journey with a set of items that he packed for his departure to a new land. Describing the memories, challenges, and hopes he had at each transition, Yaroub explains the context of global conflicts and refugee issues, while highlighting what life is like for refugees in different parts of the world. Dialogues prompted by Yaroub’s vivid photographs encourage students to think about the complex issues of international affairs in a very personal way. Recommended Materials: Blank Paper, pen/pencil/colored writing utensils.


How does the virtual program technology work?

The Penn Museum uses the BlueJeans Network as our virtual program software. This allows us to connect with most internet-supported hardware such as laptop and desktop computers, mobile devices, or even video conferencing systems (H.323).

Don’t worry—we make it easy for you and your group to use! Once your program has been scheduled, we will share the video conference link which is the link that everyone will use to join on the program date and time. Depending on the program and group size, participants may use their video and microphone, or the group may be muted during the program. A 15-minute test call is included in the cost of your program and will be scheduled with our tech staff prior to the event to ensure that everyone is able to connect easily.

Booking and Pricing

Click here to begin scheduling your Virtual International Classroom Program with the Penn Museum. You will be contacted by our Group Sales Manager directly after your virtual request is submitted to discuss program details and to schedule a Test Call. Each 15-minute test call is scheduled one week prior to the program and is conducted to determine the integrity of the connection between the Penn Museum and participants.

Pricing: $300.00 per 1 hour program