The wisdom of the lyre: soundings in ancient Greece, Cyprus and the Near East

TitleThe wisdom of the lyre: soundings in ancient Greece, Cyprus and the Near East
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsFranklin, JC
EditorHickmann, E, Both, AA, Eichmann, R
Book TitleMusikarchäologie im Kontext = Music Archaeology in Contexts: archaeological semantics, historical implications, socio-cultural connotations
Series TitleStudien zur Musikarchäologie 5; Orient-Archäologie 20

The content of cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia, Ugarit and the Hurrian area shows, that music played a considerable role in these late Bronze Age cultures. The central context was the religious importance of lyres / harps, the origin of which probably lay in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium and then spread beyond its borders in the 2nd millennium. In the opinion of the poet-priests who played the divine lyre, the instrument was a ritual object. In addition, it inspired the accompaniment of poetic creations. Hence many written sources are remains of a professional musical repertoire. Royal rule is a recurrent motif in poetry, which can be explained by the dual role of priest and sovereign. Important material comes from Ugarit and Cyprus, especially in the shape of Kinyras. In Greek sources, "heroes of the kithara" such as Orpheus, Amphion, Cadmus and Linus are regarded as late mythological descendents, as survivals of Mycenaean ritual poetry. Evidence for musical prophecies from the Old Testament is interpreted against the background of this tradition. []


Music Archaeology in Contexts includes papers from the 4th Symposium of the International Study Group on Music Archaeology at Monastery Michaelstein, 19-26 September, 2004.


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