What in the World?

A 1950's TV prelude to BAR's What is it? artifact analysis

What in the World? was the Penn Museum’s Peabody Award-winning popular weekly half-hour television program which was first seen in 1951 and which ran for 14 years. By the early 1960s it was one of the oldest programs on television, bringing positive reviews and a steady stream of fanmail to the Museum which continues to this day. On each What in the World? program, four or five unidentified objects were presented to a panel of experts who were asked to guess what each piece was, where it came from, how old it was, and how it was used. Objects were selected from storerooms and had never before been seen by the panel. Before the experts guessed, the audience was told what the object was, and, during the course of the program, could watch the thought processes of real –and often fallible!– anthropologists and archaeologists. After they had completed their identification, the moderator, Froelich Rainey, Director of the Museum, told them whether they were right and if not, gave the correct identification.

View the rest of the What in the World? episodes on the Penn Museum Youtube page.
Visit the website of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
View the What is it? artifact analysis in the September/October issue of Biblical Archaeology Review

Footage republished with the permission of the Penn Museum. Usage of the footage in productions is forbidden unless rights have been secured by contacting the Penn Museum Archives

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1 Responses

  1. Andrea Daniel says:

    I used to love this show and am glad to know that at least episodes still exist.

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