Dear Colleague:

            The recent precipitate firing of researchers at the Penn Museum
includes another world-class scholar and scientist in Near Eastern
archaeology and archaeological science among its casualties.  Why was
Patrick McGovern, who heads MASCA's Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory,
fired?  McGovern, who received his Ph.D. at Penn in Near Eastern
Archaeology, has made a series of stunning discoveries and set a standard
for how the sciences and the humanities can be effectively integrated
together in his 40+ year career at Penn (C.V. posted on his personal
website, below).  Indeed, McGovern's academic achievements embody the
interdisciplinary research that the university espouses in The Penn Compact
and its new PIK ("Penn Integrates Knowledge") Professorships.

            His Vita reads like a compendium of major scientific
breakthroughs and accomplishments:

Pioneered the rapidly developing, interdisciplinary field of Biomolecular
Archaeology.  This field is at the technological cutting-edge of modern

Discovered the earliest Royal Purple (the famous dye of the Phoenicians),
grape wine, barley beer, alcoholic beverages generally (China, ca. 7000
B.C.), and chocolate.

Published these findings in high-impact scientific journals, including three
in *Nature* (one as the cover story) and two in *The Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences* (one as the cover story) .

Published 10 peer-reviewed books, most recently *Ancient Wine* (Princeton
University Press), which garnered numerous awards.  *Uncorking the
Past*(University of California), in press, traces alcoholic beverages
around the
world and as far back in time as possible from a multi-disciplinary
perspective.  Published 50 peer-reviewed articles, ranging from geophysical
prospecting for archaeological sites to some of the earliest steel ever
found to the earliest DNA evidence for wine yeast, and another 70 additional
articles, reviews, and book chapters.

Directed major excavations in Jordan, and collaborated on archaeological
projects throughout the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.  His Baq`ah Valley
Project was one of the first excavations in the Near East to successfully
incorporate scientific methodology in the field and the laboratory
(published as a museum monograph).   An older excavation (Beth Shan,
Israel), part of the museum's Near East collection, was subjected to similar
scientific scrutiny (published as a museum monograph).

Built up a state-of-the-art laboratory in MASCA for archaeological chemical
research (with Fourier-transform Infrared Spectrometer, High-performance
Liquid Chromatograph, and other instruments).  It is one of the few such
facilities in the U.S., and is staffed by Ph.D. chemists and Penn students.
Numerous close collaborations with laboratories at Penn and around the world
have given his lab access to the latest, most sensitive instrumentation.

Developed an innovative, cost-effective ceramic analysis program which
combines multiple analytical techniques (Neutron Activation Analysis,
petrography and heavy-mineral analysis, xeroradiography, etc.) to solve
important anthropological questions.

Established an academic program in the archaeological sciences by teaching
(cross-listed in Penn archaeological and science departments).  Students,
who were trained in his lab, have gone on to careers in archaeology and
conservation science.

Received grants from the NEH, NSF, American Philosophical Society, Wine
Institute, Fulbright Foundation, universities, and many other funding
agencies and private individuals world-wide, together with in-kind
contributions (i.e., equipment donations, gratis analyses at outside labs,
and the expertise of volunteer chemists).  These monies, combined with the
value of his publicity for the museum and university, amount to millions of
dollars.  He has leveraged a very small budget into a very productive
research program.

Re-created the "King Midas" funerary feast, the first time that a historic
meal has been reconstructed by chemical analysis of ancient organic residues

His ground-breaking research has resulted in 15 international stories, and
widespread public and scholarly exposure and acclaim.  It has been profiled
in ten video programs, including a full-length feature filmed at the Midas
Tumulus in Turkey, and has been the focus of museum exhibits in
Philadelphia, Athens, the Napa Valley, France, and elsewhere.

Given keynote addresses around the world (most recently at the National
Museum in Tblisi, Georgia, after the Russian invasion), and has collaborated
with over 400 scientists and archaeologists in museum and academic
institutions in more than 30 countries.

On-going studies include testing ancient compounds for their anti-cancer and
medicinal effects (Abramson Cancer Center and Penn Medical School), grape
and yeast DNA, prehistoric Chinese fermented beverages, New World chocolate,
and early wine, ranging from Neolithic villages in the Taurus and Caucasus
Mountains to Iron Age shipwrecks in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

            In short, McGovern has made a huge contribution to both Near
Eastern Archaeology and archaeological science.  Few other museum
researchers has the distinction of so many peer-reviewed books and articles,
which is the ultimate measure of research success.

            At a time when science and technology have become increasingly
important in our society, why would a museum, which is supposedly looking to
the future, fire a researcher of McGovern's caliber?  To destroy a
laboratory which took years to create, in a matter of days, is not only
short-sighted, it is contradictory to the very essence of a university and
museum in advancing human knowledge and preserving the past.  The loss in
human capital and facilities is incalculable, and not easily rebuilt.

            Why weren't other, less draconian, measures explored before
firing McGovern?  During the Great Depression, all Penn employees pulled
together and took an across-the-board 10% pay cut.  Some of the fired
researchers might even have been willing to take larger cuts, to continue
their careers.  Moreover, if McGovern had been evaluated as an individual,
based on his annual performance evaluations, peer-reviewed publications,
grants received, teaching, etc., he could never have been fired.

            We urge our colleagues, who have benefitted from Dr. McGovern's
research, to not let this decision stand, but to express their objections to
the museum Director Richard Hodges, the Deputy Director Brian Rose,
university President Amy Gutmann, and Provost Ronald Daniels (addresses,

            Specifically, we encourage our colleagues to stress that by
firing McGovern, the professions of Near Eastern archaeology and the
archaeological sciences, the museum, the university, and the academic world
generally will suffer serious losses.  The Penn administration needs to find
another solution in keeping with McGovern's significant contributions and
world-wide reputation.  If enough colleagues register their dissatisfaction
with the decision and highlight different aspects of McGovern's career, the
combined effect might well provide a compelling argument for the
administration to find another solution.

            Please consider submitting one such letter, and feel free to
forward this request to other colleagues.


Ofer Bar-Yosef

MacCurdy Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology
Department of Anthropology
Harvard University

Garman Harbottle

Research Professor

Department of Geosciences

Stony Brook University

Timothy Harrison

Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology

University of Toronto

President of the American Schools of Oriental Research

Victor H. Mair

Professor of Chinese Language and Literature

Consulting Scholar, Museum Asian Section

University of Pennsylvania

Jennifer L. Mass

Director, Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory

Winterthur Museum

Winterthur Delaware

Lawrence E. Stager

Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel

Director of the Semitic Museum

Harvard University.

News releases on Penn firings:

*Daily Pennsylvanian* (also look for responses under Article Tools):<#%EF%B8%9C>

* *<#>

*Philadelphia** Inquirer*:

Dr. Patrick McGovern's websites

Personal website: **




** *:

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Addresses of Penn administrators:

Dr. Richard Hodges, Director

*[log in to unmask]*

University of Pennsylvania Museum

3260 South Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

Dr. Brian Rose, Deputy Director and Chief-of-Curators

[log in to unmask]

University of Pennsylvania Museum

3260 South Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

Dr. Amy Gutmann

*[log in to unmask]*

Office of the President

University of Pennsylvania

100 College Hall

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6380

Ronald Daniels, Provost

*[log in to unmask]*

University of Pennsylvania

122 College Hall

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6303