The auloi from Meroë: Preliminary notes on the conservation, technical examination, and interpretation of a cache of ancient musical instruments

TitleThe auloi from Meroë: Preliminary notes on the conservation, technical examination, and interpretation of a cache of ancient musical instruments
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsHagel, S, Gänsicke, S
EditorDaehner, JM, Lapatin, K, Spinelli, A
Book TitleThe Greeks and Their Legacy, XIXth International Congress on Ancient Bronzes
Pagination381-388
PublisherGetty Publications
CityLos Angeles
ISBN NumberISBN 978-1-60606-541-9
KeywordsAmanishakheto's tomb, auloi with mechanisms, Meroë auloi, Roman period auloi
Abstract

This paper summarizes preliminary results of an extensive, multidisciplinary conservation project at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) of a large cache of ancient musical instruments also known as “the auloi from Meroë.” The objects were discovered in 1921 during excavations by the Harvard University–Museum of Fine Arts Expedition of the burial site of Queen Amanishakheto (10 BC) in Meroë, Sudan. Multiple layers of tubing were recovered, consisting of exterior bronze sleeves encasing resonators of wood and bone. Due to the thin-walled structure of the objects, their exposure to long-term burial, and subsequent transport and handling, the pipes were fragmented virtually beyond recognition.

To date, the fragments have been documented and sorted, and many broken sections are now reconnected. Scientific examination of the materials included radio-carbon dating, identified textile fibers and wood types, and allowed insights into the complex nature of the metalwork.

Music-archaeological methods, combining the material evidence with the physics of ancient musical scales, have identified twelve individual pipes forming six pairs representing three different types of pipes, of varying length and with diverse mechanisms. The project’s long-term goal, in addition to physical reconstruction and stabilization of the ancient materials, is the fabrication of modern, functional replicas to discover the musical potential of these instruments.

URLhttps://www.getty.edu/publications/artistryinbronze/conservation-and-analysis/45-gansicke/

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