Silk Road exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropolgy, the exhibition that almost wasn't.
Of course, this was the visit that almost wasn't. At about 4:30 this morning, Stella fell out of her bed (a chair and ottomon in our bedroom). Anyway, I was worried she'd been injured, perhaps too injured for daycare, since she retreated to her crate and kept licking her elbow. We went in anyway and they promised to watch for signs of injury and have some private play sessions with her if she was unable to run with the big dogs, as it were. I'm so glad I didn't stay home. She dragged the keeper to the play area as if she'd slept the whole night in her bed, and no one ever noticed a problem. (Right now she's laying next to me, and she hasn't moved in the last four hours.)
The mummies-- including the "The Beauty of Xiaohe"--were supposedly the big draw (btw, that guy's not a mummy, but he is wearing some serious threads) because they exhibit Caucasoid features. It was so interesting to learn about the Tarim Basin where 28 different languages were used and a host of religions were practiced side by side with people coming from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa to trade. The cultural exchange was remarkable (according to what they told me in the audio tour anyway).
I was completely fascinated by the textiles. (You can see some of them here.) They had a couple of interactive displays about fabrics, one where you held fabric under a shelf and it appeared on a screen as if you had it under a microscope. We looked at the the silk brocade, two types of wool, and some felt. Then just for giggles, I held various pieces of my own clothing under it. I don't know why I was so fascinated. Actually all of the interactive displays turned adults into curious children. You should have seen this older man in a business suit playing with the computer that demonstrated the evolution (movement, exchange) of words important on the Silk Road. On the other side of the room from the fabric microscope, they had a little comparison of silk and wool felt (the two main types of fabric found in the burial areas). Which would you rather wear on your feet in the winter? You could lay the fabric swatches over this square of unusually cold metal to determine the answer. But what would you rather wear to protect yourself from prickly things in the forest? They had both fabrics laid over some kind of bristly material. Beyond that, I saw dozens of textiles and pieces of clothing that were between 2000 and 4000 years old. Like this wall hanging that had been sewn onto a pair of trousers. Or a little child's dress, which would be totally fashionable today, that had been resewn to make it bigger. (Today's upcyclers can bite it--that was invented ages ago.) I could babble on, or you could read this article (pdf) about the textiles written by a real expert.
I've got to catch up on the sleep I lost worrying about a dog who fell out of bed.