MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For more than a thousand years, a cemetery on the banks of the Rio Grande de Coclé in Panama lay undisturbed, escaping the attention of gold seekers and looters. In 1927, the river flooded, setting the scene for one of the richest discoveries in the history of American archaeology.
In 1940, a Penn Museum team led by J. Alden Mason excavated at the cemetery, revealing the single largest grouping of grave goods ever unearthed in Panama—golden plaques and pendants with animal-human motifs, precious and semiprecious stones, animal bone ornaments, and literally tons of detail-rich painted ceramics.
Beginning February 03, 2018, Beneath the Surface: Life, Death, and Gold in Ancient Panama will immerse visitors in the history of the original excavation, and introduce them to the Coclé people, a complex and mysterious society that
disappeared approximately 1,000 years ago and left no written language.
The centerpiece of the show is a three-tiered recreation of the cemetery’s wealthiest and most important burial site, referred to as “Burial 11”, where Mason’s team encountered the remains of at least 23 people, including the so-called “Paramount Chief”, a powerful ruler and war leader in the Coclé region. The discovery has been compared to King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt.
The recreation features artifacts displayed in their original positions flanked by interactive touchscreens allowing for further exploration. The expedition itself, which was state of the art for its time, is brought to life through photographs,
archaeological tools, sketches, field diaries, and rare color motion-picture footage of the dig, all part of Chief Curator Clark Erickson’s approach to “peopling the past.”
The exhibition is traveling from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, one of the world’s great archaeology and anthropology research museums, and the largest university museum in the United States.
Beneath the Surface was nominated for Best Ancient Art Exhibit at the Global Fine Art Awards in a category that included the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hermitage Museum, and the Getty Museum.
‘Beneath the Surface’ will be exhibited at the Pink Palace Museum, February 03, 2018 and runs until May 06, 2018.
For ticket information, call 901-636-2362