Gibeon Revisited: An Integrated Approach to Bioarchaeological Collection

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Undergraduate Humanities Forum 2018-2019: Stuff
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Jensen-Hitch, Fiona

The Penn Museum contains a set of previously unstudied skeletal remains from a site called Gibeon, located near the modern Palestinian village, al-Jib. I analyzed these remains over a year and a half, using two main frameworks. The first, and primary framework centered on the collection of the bones and their subsequent history within the Penn Museum, attempting to explore why they were brought here and were never analyzed. I addressed this through as complete of a basic osteological analysis as possible, given the state of the collection. This framework also joins the discussion on how museums choose to collect, store, and exchange skeletal material, a topic that remains highly relevant to the ethics of bioarchaeology and museum practice. The second principal framework lies in the geopolitical context of the excavation at Gibeon and what can a study of the human remains can draw from and contribute to the archaeology of Israel and Palestine. Through this framework, I discuss how interpretations of the past, such as the site of Gibeon, figure into contemporary discussions on the politics of archeology. Overall, my project identified the gaps in the archive of Gibeon’s human remains and begins to build into these gaps.

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