Geographical Society of Philadelphia

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KUNGA: 4,500 Years in the Making

February 16, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

$5 – $15

Join the Geographical Society of Philadelphia’s board president Dr. Jill Weber at Rex at the Royal (in-person and virtual), 6:30-8 PM. We’ll meet for drinks and conversation, and hear about Dr. Weber’s discovery.

For decades, scholars knew of an animal called a kunga, which had been described in art, literature, and documents between 2600 to 2200 B.C., but no one had ever found their remains. 

Between 2002-2010, Dr. Weber excavated and analyzed the bones of over 30 animal skeletons that she determined belonged to the kunga.

Join Dr. Jill Weber as she discusses this incredible find from a royal cemetery in Syria, at the site of Umm el-Marra.  Dr. Weber hypothesized that these animals were, in fact, the ancient kunga based on the population’s demography, behavioral artifacts, and provenance. The size and shape of the bones and skeletons led her to identify them as donkey x half-ass hybrids, an identification that is now validated by DNA analysis. 


Dr. Jill Weber is a Consulting Scholar, Near East Section at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.  Since 1992, Jill has worked in Syria, Turkey, Armenia, Oman, Iraq, and Italy. Along the way, she gained an intimate knowledge of these countries, their cultures, and native cuisines, which inspired her to open a restaurant back in Philly. She is now the proud founder of Sojourn Philly, consisting of restaurants Jet Wine Bar, Rex at the Royal, Café Ynez, and Sor Ynez. Jill combines her loves for travel, history, and wine in tastings that explore a wine’s other “terroir”, the history found underground!


“A new study finds the first known instance of a human-engineered hybrid, bred from a donkey and a Syrian wild ass 4,500 years ago.” – New York Times

“Having been depicted in mosaics and their value recorded in cuneiform on clay tablets, researchers suspected the prestigious kunga was a type of hybrid donkey. Still, their proper classification in the animal kingdom remained unknown until now.” – Smithsonian Magazine


Cash bar. Proof of vaccination is required per city mandate. 

Questions? Please contact Dilek Karabucak, Executive Director, at or visit our website at




February 16, 2022
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
$5 – $15


Geographical Society of Philadelphia


Rex at the Royal
1524 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146 United States
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(267) 319-1366
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