Music of Mesopotamia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Hurrian songs, a collection of music inscribed in cuneiform on clay tablets excavated from the ancient city of Ugarit, dating to approximately 1400 BCE. The "Hymn to Nikkal" (pictured) is considered to be the oldest surviving substantially complete written music in the world.[1][2][3][4] The song's words are written above the double line and the music notation is below.[5]

Music was ubiquitous throughout Mesopotamian history, playing important roles in both religious and secular contexts. Mesopotamia is of particular interest to scholars because evidence from the region—which includes artifacts, artistic depictions and written records—places it among the earliest well-documented cultures in the history of music. The discovery of a bone wind instrument dating to the 5th millennium BCE provides the earliest evidence of music culture in Mesopotamia; depictions of music and musicians appear in the 4th millennium BCE; and later, in the city of Uruk, the pictograms for ‘harp’ and ‘musician’ are present among the earliest known examples of writing.

Music played a central role in Mesopotamian religion and some instruments themselves were regarded as minor deities and given proper names, such as the Ninigizibara. Its use in secular occasions included festivals, warfare and funerals—among all classes of society. Mesopotamians sang and played percussion, wind, and string instruments, and instructions for playing them have been discovered on clay tablets. Surviving artifacts include the oldest known string instruments, the Lyres of Ur, which includes the Bull Headed Lyre of Ur.

There are several surviving works of written music; the Hurrian songs, particularly the "Hymn to Nikkal", represent the oldest known substantially complete notated music. Modern scholars have attempted to recreate the melodies from these works, although there is no consensus on exactly how the music would have sounded. The Mesopotamians had an elaborate system of music theory, and some level of music education. Music in Mesopotamia influenced, and was influenced by, music in neighboring cultures of antiquity based in Egypt, East and West Africa, and the Mediterranean coast.



Map of Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia is a historical region situated between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Fertile Crescent, modern day Iraq.[6] It is one of the cradles of civilization,[6] first developing settlements around 10,000 BCE.[7] Two distinct peoples, the Sumerians and the Akkadians, were the dominant cultures in the region,[7] extending from the earliest examples of writing (c. 3100 BCE) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BCE. Mesopotamians are credited with many firsts, including writing, agriculture, and the invention of the wheel.[8]

Northern Mesopotamia included the ancient cities of Assur, Nimrud, Khorsabad and Nineveh.[9] The Tigris and Euphrates rivers come close together near Baghdad, where several great cities emerged, including Babylon, Agade, Sippar, Ktesiphon, and Seleucia-on-the-Tigris.[10] This region was called Akkad, and would later be known as Babylonia.[10] To the south, where the two rivers diverged again, lie the land of Sumer.[10] Major cities of Sumer included Ur, Uruk, Larsa and Lagash.[11] Mesopotamia was rich in clay and fibrous date palms, but lacked other raw materials such as stone and metal, which encouraged trade.[12] The island of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf was a hub of trading activity connecting Mesopotamia to the ancient cultures of Arabia, Iran, and the Indus Valley.[10]

Religion and writing help set the stage for a music culture in this region. The Sumerian and Akkadian pantheons, mythologies and rituals intertwined throughout their history. Individual cities had patron deities,[13] who needed to be placated, lest they abandon the city.[14] This was accomplished through lamentation prayers, somber expressions of the grief that would come if the god departed.[14] Music played a central role in this process—hymns accompanied the ritual singing of these prayers,[14] and some rituals involved an interaction with the instrument itself.[15] Instruments were regarded as intermediaries, minor gods that held sway over major deities.[14] Much of what we know about this relationship between Mesopotamian music and religion comes from clay tablets. Scribes would use a reed stylus to make wedge-shaped impressions in wet clay, and the tablets would be baked.[16] While this cuneiform script would evolve over time,[17] texts about music and musicians are present throughout all stages of the development of writing; they focused on listing instruments, genres, and songs, and articulating their music theory. Piecing together thousands of surviving tablets, researchers have been able to give us a detailed picture of Mesopotamian music culture.

Surviving works[edit]

Hurrian Hymn No. 6 interpreted by Raoul Vitale.

The most famous surviving works of music are the Hurrian Hymns, a collection of music inscribed in cuneiform on clay tablets excavated from the ancient city of Ugarit, modern day Syria, dating to approximately 1400 BCE. Hurrian Hymn No. 6, the "Hymn to Nikkal", is considered to be the oldest surviving substantially complete written music in the world.[1][2][3][4] At least five interpretations of this tablet have been made in an attempt to reconstruct the music,[4] notably by Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, Marcelle Duchesne-Guillemin, Raoul Vitale, and others. Experts agree on some points, for example, the name of each string of the instrument, its intervals, and its tuning.[18] Nevertheless, each interpretation yields different music.[4] In 2009 Syrian composer Malek Jandali released an album, Echoes from Ugarit, which contains an interpretation of Hurrian Hymn No. 6 on piano accompanied by a full orchestra.

The Hurrian hymns were authored by four composers from Ugarit: Tapšihun, Puhiyanna, Urhiya, and Ammiya,[19] and were recorded by two scribes, Ammurabi and Ipšali.[19] Musicologist Richard Dumbrill, who has studied the tablets in detail, reflects on the creation of these works:[20]

Writing down pictures and ideas as pictographic and ideographic stylisations would have been a difficult enough principle with which to come to terms, some 5000 years ago, but the thought of applying the same concept for the purpose of transcribing the ethereal nature of music must have been one of the greatest intellectual achievements of human thought in antiquity.[20]

Although the music for most hymns is lost, their surviving texts provide insight as to how the compositions were organized.[21] These compositions, according to Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer, show "a rich variety in both content and structure",[21] and fall into two groups, hymns for the king, and hymns for gods. Kramer details some elements of hymnal organization:

As to structure, the hymns are frequently divided into songs of varying length separated from each other by brief antiphonal responses; others consist of a number of four-line strophes. Not a few of the hymns weave a repeated refrain into their contents; still others break up into sections separated by liturgic rubrics of varying types. The hymns were divided by the ancient Sumerian scribes themselves into different groups and categories. At times, not unlike the hymns in the Book of Psalms, these varied with the type of musical instrument which accompanied them.[21]

Furthermore, an Akkadian language tablet contains a catalogue of song titles organized by genre,[22] including workmen’s songs, shepherds’ songs, love songs, and songs of youth,[23] although the melodies are lost. Nevertheless, Mesopotamian views of love, sex, and marriage can be inferred from some love songs.[24] In two surviving examples, love songs related to a wedding between a priestess and a king “ring out with passionate love and sexual ecstacy”.[24] Kramer infers from the surviving words that some marriages were motivated by sex and love, not just practical considerations, and relates this fact to a Sumerian proverb: “Marry a wife according to your choice!”[24]

Surviving instruments[edit]

The Queen's gold lyre from the Royal Cemetery at Ur. C. 2500 BCE. Iraq Museum

Although musicians and musical instruments were depicted in Mesopotamian art in various forms over a 3,000 year period, very few instruments have survived.[25] Only eleven stringed instruments have been recovered, nine lyres and two harps, all from the Royal Cemetery of Ur.[26] The most famous are the four Lyres of Ur:

The Golden Lyre of Ur now held in the Iraq Museum is a reconstruction; the original was destroyed in the looting that followed the US invasion of Baghdad during the second Iraq War.[27] Musicologist Samuel Dorf details the event:[27]

In early April of 2003, the museum was looted. The lyre went missing, only to be found in pieces. The irreparably damaged gold and mother-of-pearl bull’s head was subsequently discovered in the flooded basement vaults of Iraq’s Central Bank. Looters stripped parts of the body of much of its gold and left the remains in a parking lot.[27]

The destruction of these antiquities during the war sparked widespread international condemnation.[28] In a 2016 event held in London’s Trafalgar Square meant to condemn ISIS and the looting, singer/composer Stef Conner and harpist Mark Hamer performed with a replica of the lyre, recreated by harpist Andy Lowings.[29] The lyre was built of authentic wood, and adorned with lapis lazuli, other precious stones, and $13,000 worth of 24k gold.[30] They played a musical interpretation of The Epic of Gilgamesh from their 2014 album The Flood.[27]

One of the two harps discovered at Ur is Puabi’s harp,[31] an especially ornate harp found in the grave of Queen Puabi.[32] Whereas the largest of the lyres had a register similar to a modern bass viol, and the smaller silver lyre had a register like a cello, Puabi’s harp fell in the register of a small guitar.[31] UC Berkeley professor Robert R. Brown made three playable replica’s of Puabi’s harp,[31] one of which is held in the British Museum.[33] Claire Polin describes the richly adorned instrument:

a graceful boat-shaped instrument with gold knobs upon the eleven-stringed posts. The body terminated in a golden calf’s head with lapis lazuli hair and beard, shell and lapis eyes, a mosaic-studded collar, a spacious wooden soundbox with inlaid edges of mosaic, red limestone, shell, and lapis.[32]

Other instruments discovered at the cemetery include a pair of silver pipes,[26] as well as drums, sistra, and cymbals.[34] In earlier findings dating to the 5th millennium BCE, two bone wind instruments have been recovered, one complete and the other in fragments.[35] Also recovered is a fragment of a clay whistle from Uruk dating to c. 3200 BCE.[35] Two pairs of copper clappers from Kish are in the Oriental Institute, and there are two scraper instruments dating to 1500 BCE in the Teheran Archaeological Museum.[36] There is a large, elaborately decorated Assyrian bell in the Berlin Museum.[37] At one time there was a bone whistle recovered from Nimrud, which produced three distinct pitches, but it has been lost.[38]


Uses of music[edit]

Ea (also Enki), deity of music, wears a horned helmet and holds a cup from which water overflows. Old Babylonian period, 19th–17th century BCE. Pergamon Museum, Berlin.


Music played a central role in ancient Mesopotamian religion. In the Old Babylonian period, when music was performed as part of a religious ceremony, the practitioners, known as Gala priests, sang in a dialect of Sumerian called Emesal.[39] There were two types of Emesal prayers, the Balag and the Ershemma, named after the instruments used in their performance (the Balag and Shem, respectively).[40] Other musical instruments associated with the Gala priests include the ub (small drum[41]), lilis (timpani[42]), and meze (sistrum or cymbals[42]), although not much is known about these instruments.[43]

Evidence from the city of Mari offers a picture of how the musicians were situated within the temple. An instrument called the Ninigizibara was placed opposite a statue of that city’s deity, Eštar. Singers sat to the right of the instrument, an orchestra sat to its left, and female musicians stood behind the instrument. Ritual acts were performed during these sung lamentation prayers, whose purpose was to persuade the local deity not to abandon the city.[44][45] Moreover, some laments included grief over the loss of music itself during the destruction of a city and its temple.[46] In one such work, the "weeping goddess" Ninisinna laments the destruction of her city, Isin, not only bemoaning the loss of food, drink, and luxury, but also because there was “no sweet-sounding musical instruments such as the lyre, drum, tambourine, and reed pipe; no comforting songs and soothing words from the temple singers and priests.”[46]

Some rituals involved the instruments themselves, deified, and capable of receiving animal sacrifices as gods.[47] In a ritual closely associated with a drum described in an Akkadian text,[48] a bull was brought to the temple and offerings were made to Ea, god of music and wisdom.[49][50] The bull was then singed. Twelve linens were placed on the ground,[15] and a bronze image of a god was placed on top of each linen. Sacrifices were made and a drum was put into place. The bronze images were then put inside the drum, incantations were whispered into the bull's ears, a hymn was sung accompanied by an oboe, and the bull was sacrificed.[51]


The Akkadian word for music, nigūtu, also meant ‘joy’ and ‘merriment’,[52] well illustrated by a seal in the Louvre showing a peaceful scene of a shepherd playing a flute to his flock.[52] Music was a normal part of social life in Mesopotamia[52] and was used in many secular contexts, such as at banquets,[53] among royalty,[54] and at festivals, where musicians were often accompanied by dancers, jugglers, and acrobats.[55] Music played important roles at funerals[56] and in the military,[57][53] and was also depicted in relation to sports and sex.[58] Mesopotamian love songs, which represented a distinct genre of music, nevertheless shared features in common with religious music.[59] Inana and Dumuzi, often featured in laments, are also prominent as the divine lovers in romantic songs,[59] and they both use Emesal, a dialect associated with women.[59] The use of Emesal by women singers extended into wedding songs as well, but over time these singing roles were taken over by male performers, at least among the elite.[60]

Musicologist J. Peter Burkholder lists genres of secular music including "work songs, nursery songs, dance music, tavern music, music for entertaining at feasts, and epics sung with instrumental accompaniment."[61] Vibrant wall paintings illustrate dancing, and several genres of dance can be distinguished on wall reliefs, cylinder seals, and painted pottery,[62] and depictions of musical instruments accompany them.[62] Secular music was comforting to the Mesopotamian people; one incantation tells of a homesick scribe who was stuck and ill in Elam-Anían; he longed “to be healed by the music of the horizontal harp with seven strings.”[63]

Music education[edit]

Professional musicians would be trained as apprentices, being eligible for employment in numerous settings.[64] Sumerian texts indicate that choral training occurred by 3000 BCE in the temple of Ningarsu in Lagash, which developed into highly complex responsorial chanting with instrumental parts, which the musicologist Charles Plummeridge notes "must have required expert tuition and direction."[64] Some religious practices were highly specific in teaching music.[64] Instructions on surviving clay tablets include information on how to play musical instruments.[65] It is debated whether these texts applied to a mainstream musical tradition or a smaller and more theoretical discipline.[66]

With ancient Egypt, Mesopotamian society included the earliest known schools to teach music.[64] Active by the 3rd millennium BCE, these schools—known as edubas—were chiefly for educating scribes and priests.[64][67] Extant clay tablets often record information on student activities in edubas, and indicate that their examinations included questions on differentiating and identifying instruments, singing technique, and analyzing compositions.[68] Knowledge of music was essential in these roles, as the students would later become important cultural and religious figures.[64] Outside of edubbas, the children of the elite received a comprehensive education in reading, writing, religion, the sciences, law and medicine, among other topics; whether music was included is largely uncertain.[64] A nascent music school existed in Mari, where young musicians may have been purposefully blinded for unknown reasons.[69] Some evidence suggests that Mesopotamians had toy instruments.[70]


Plaque with male musician playing a harp, Ischali, baked clay

Sumerian and Akkadian language texts provide insight into the role of musicians in society.[71] Two distinct types of musicians are known, the gala and the nar.[45] Both classes of musician were regarded highly, and associated with religion and royalty, but their roles differed.[72] The gala (Akkadian kalû[73]) musician was closely associated with temple rituals, and their job may have been considered less glamorous and temporary.[72] There are hundreds of individual named musicians, such as the Gala musician Ur-Utu, who are known from administrative documents.[69] In some cases, archaeological findings have identified the homes and family histories of these musicians, revealing their high status in society.[69] Gala musicians were associated with the god Enki.[72]

The nar (Akkadian nāru[74]) musician, who had a close association with royalty, was known to play and transport musical instruments and to have close correspondence with the king. The chief musician of the palace directed musical performances and also taught apprentice musicians.[72] In the royal harem, where the king kept wives, concubines, children, and servants, the king also kept young apprentice musicians.[72] The possession of musicians was a sign of status, and musicians were traded over long distances, including as diplomatic gifts and in war.[75] When the Assyrian military conquered a city, they spared the musicians and sent them to Nineveh with the spoils.[76] An epic tale called “The Death of Gilgamesh” details how Gilgamesh offered gifts to the gods on behalf of his wives and children, but also on behalf of his musicians.[77] Musicians, alongside the royal family, sometimes accompanied the king to his grave.[78]

Shulgi of Ur, who ruled c. 2094 – c. 2046 BCE during the Third Dynasty of Ur, was a generous patron of the arts, especially music.[79] In self-laudatory texts, he professed to be an expert musician, claiming that it came easy to him.[79] He listed numerous instruments he claimed to have mastered: the algar, the sabitum, the miritum, the urzababitum, the harhar, the “Great Lion,” the dim, and the magur;[80] he also claimed to have mastered the art of composition of genres such as the tigi and the adab.[79] Shulgi seemed to enjoy playing all instruments except the reed pipe, which he believed brought sadness to the spirit, whereas music should bring joy and cheer.[81] Shulgi generously funded Sumer’s two major edubbas, those of Ur and Nippur; in return, Sumerian poets composed hymns of glorification in his honor.[82]

The goddess Ishtar, to whom Enheduanna composed numerous hymns. Old Babylonian, 1800-1750 BCE. British Museum, London.

The best known musician of the Ur III period, Dada, was a wealthy individual who held the title of gala (or gala-mah).[83] His career began during the reign of Shulgi, and it seems that he was a special kind of gala who acted as the gala of the royal court or even of the state, and was in charge of other galas.[84] Dada organized musical events, looking after both the instruments and related entertainment,[72] including handling a bear cub.[84] He and his family owned residences in both Girsu and Ur,[84] and two of Dada’s children, Hedut-Amar-Sin and Šu-Sin-migir-Eštar, entertained the king with their own music.[84] Dada’s main assistant, or perhaps star performer, was a nar musician named Ur-Ningublaga.[84] While Dada’s story offers a glimpse into the life of a Mesopotamian musician, it is likely that he was an exceptional example, and that most gala musicians would have held more mundane roles.[84]

Among the earliest known composers in the history of music was an Akkadian priestess, Enheduanna,[61] active around 2300 BCE. The daughter of Sargon of Akkad, founder of the Akkadian Empire,[85] Enheduanna was simultaneously a princess, priestess, and poetess who wrote a cycle of hymns to the temples of Sumer and Akkad, including devotional hymns for the gods Sin and Inanna, the texts for which survive.[61] Her work was prolific and also well documented; as many as fifty copies of some of her works have survived.[86] She authored nin-me-sar-ra, and is the likely author of a hymn entitled the ‘Myth of Inanna and Ebih’ (in-nin me-huš-a).[87] Some of her works had themes related to her father’s accomplishments,[87] while others are autobiographical—she speaks in the first person at least once.[88] Her poems were quite popular in Babylon and her hymnal organization likely influenced many generations of composers.[86] She is referred to by name in a hymn to Dumuzi, attesting to her popularity in the region.[89]

The gender of ancient Mesopotamian musicians is debated.[72] Some sources indicate that Gala priests, for example, were either genderfluid or regarded as a third gender.[90] Gabbay writes, "The term Gala/kalû should be understood as a general concept, relating to a third gender which shares features of both female and male, but which is an independent gender category."[90] Other sources suggest they may have been homosexual or intersex.[72] Still other texts, including music instruction texts, differentiate between male and female apprentice musicians.[72] Some of the ambiguity surrounding the gala’s gender could be explained[91] by the history of lamentation prayers, which may have originated with the funerary laments of women. The earliest documented gala performance was in the context of a funeral, with women lamenters accompanying the gala in the mourning.[91] These origins may explain why female characteristics, and the dialect associated with women, Emesal, have long been associated with the gala and temple prayers.[91]


Clay tablet recording the names of 23 types of musical instruments. Sumer, 26th C. BCE.

Instruments of ancient Mesopotamia include harps, lyres, lutes, reed pipes, and drums. While much is known about Mesopotamian instruments, musicologist Carl Engel points out that because the main depictions of musical instruments come from bas reliefs celebrating royal and religious events, it is likely that there are many instruments, perhaps popular ones, that we are unaware of.[92]

Divination of instruments[edit]

Musical instruments were intimately associated with Mesopotamian religion, and some were regarded as minor gods - intermediaries that could help the priest communicate with a major god.[93][43] Clear evidence for the divination of musical instruments comes from the Sumerian language.[94] The use of determinatives, or unvocalized logograms that show the category of a noun,[95] inform us whether the object in question is, for example, made of wood (𒄑, giš), is a person (𒇽, lú), or is a building (𒂍, é);[96] the proper names of certain Mesopotamian musical instruments are always accompanied by the divine determinative (𒀭, dingir) used for gods.[94] Furthermore, these instruments’ names appear in written lists of gods.[97] Franklin writes, "These were not symbols of the gods, but instantiations of some sort […] divinized cult-objects were gods."[98] The instruments were the intended recipients of various offerings, such as animal sacrifice, spices, or jewelry.[98]

This was especially true of an instrument known as a balag, whose identity is disputed[99] but which may have been a string instrument or a drum. Examples of known instrument-gods include balags such as the ‘Red-Eyed Lord’ (Lugal-igi-ḫuš).[100] Gudea commissioned balags, including 'Great Dragon of the Land' (Ušumgal-kalama) and 'Lady as Exalted as Heaven'.[35] Several balags are known to have been minor gods to the sun-god Utu, associated with law and justice, including ‘Let me live by His Word’, ‘Just Judge’, and ‘Decision of Sky and Earth’.[101] Another named instrument-god is Nin-an-da-gal-ki.[102] During Gudea’s reign in Lagash (c. 2100 BCE), some calendar years were named for the balag that was deified and dedicated.[103] Furthermore, some kings inserted their names into the proper name of the instrument; Ishbi-Erra, during the Isin dynasty, dedicated a deified balag named 'Ishbi-Erra trusts in Enlil',[104] suggesting that each instrument was “an intermediary between the earthly king and his divine counterpart.”[104] During the rituals associated with this instrument, the lines between priest, musician, instrument, god, and king were blurred, and within this context the Mesopotamians believed the balag played itself.[105]


Contracts for the employment of musicians in temples survive, and reveal that a large number of singers were used in the ritual performances.[106] While the exact nature of these performances will never be known,[31] musicologist Peter van der Merwe speculates that the vocal tone or timbre was probably similar to the "pungently nasal sound" of the narrow-bore reed pipes.[107] He suggests that ancient Mesopotamian singing shared characteristics with contemporary vocal quality and techniques, including dynamic changes and graces, shakes, mordents, glides and microtonal inflections associated with a nasal timbre.[107] We know from reliefs carved in stone that singers would sometimes squeeze their larynx with their fingers in order to achieve high notes.[108] We also know that choral singing was sometimes done in unison and at other times in parts;[69] Geshtinanna was the muse of signing in unison.[69]


Example of the santur instrument carried horizontally and struck with two sticks, known from ancient Babylon (1600–911 BCE) and Neo-Assyria (911–612 BCE).

Percussive instruments in ancient Mesopotamia included clappers, scrapers, rattles, sistra, cymbals, bells and drums.[109] A scraper consisted of a stick and an object with notches cut in it,[36] while rattles were made of gourds or other materials and contained pebbles or clay objects to produce the rattling sound when shook.[110] A Mesopotamian sistrum consisted of a handle, a frame, and cross bars that jingled.[110] Cymbals were small and massive, with some shaped like plates and others like cups,[111] and some were made of bronze.[110]

Mesopotamian art depicts at least 4 types of drums: a shallow drum, which a Sumerian relief dating to 2100 BCE depicts as an estimated 1.7 meters across, and which required two men to play;[37][112] a small cylindrical drum held horizontally; a large footed drum; and a small drum with one head, carried vertically.[112] Sumerian drums were made of metal rather than wood[113] and were played with the hands rather than sticks.[37] The skin of the Babylonian drum was made from bull hide,[114] and the placement of the skin over the sacred instrument was itself the subject of a ritual at the Temple of Ea.[114]


Almost no wind instruments survive,[115] but there is ample evidence of their use in artistic depictions and literature. Wind instruments included flutes, oboes, horns, and pan-pipes,[116] made of wood, animal horn, bone, metal, and reed.[69] A short horn instrument used by the Hittites was a precursor to the Jewish shofar.[117] The reed pipe was an instrument played on sad occasions, such as funerals.[118]

Two silver pipes dating to 2800 BCE were discovered in Ur.[119] Both pipes are 24 cm in length. One has four finger holes and the other has three; when placed next to each other, three of the finger holes from each pipe are aligned.[120] While we know this was a reeded instrument, it’s unclear whether it was a single or double reed,[120] although some scholars claim that ancient Mesopotamians did not have a single-reeded instrument such as a clarinet.[117] The silver pipes represent the oldest known wind instrument, predating a set of Egyptian reed pipes by 500 years.[121] Similar pipes made of gold, silver, and bronze are described in texts from the same city.[120]

The word “flute” appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest surviving literary work from Mesopotamia. The text describes “A flute of carnelian” (Tablet VIII, line 148, translation by Andrew R. George).[122] There are numerous depictions of flutes in visual art throughout Mesopotamian history, including a woman playing a flute on a Sumerian shell ornament from Nippur dating to 2600-2500 BCE,[123] a flutist on an Akkadian cylinder seal dating to 2400-2200 BCE,[124] an ivory box from Nimrud dating to 900-700 BCE,[125] and in a bas-relief from Nineveh dating to 645 BCE.[126]


Bull's head ornament for a lyre, Sumerian, c. 2600–2350 BCE. Bronze, inlaid with shell and lapis lazuli. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

String instruments included harps, lyres, lutes, and psalteries.[127] The Mesopotamian harp originated from the warrior’s bow, perhaps by the addition of a gourd as a resonator,[128] and through accident and experimentation[129] became the ancestor to the lyre and other stringed instruments.[130] Strings may have been made with catgut, as was done by the Egyptians, or with silk.[131] Plucked instruments came in many varieties, differing in the manner in which they were intended to be held.[36] When used by royalty or as part of a religious ceremony, they were adorned with precious metals and stones, such as gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and mother of pearl.[26]

The body of the lyre was a representation of an animal’s body, such as a cow, bull, calf, donkey, or stag.[132] Archaeologist Leonard Woolley suggested that the animal head depicted on the front of the lyre indicated the instrument’s register.[132] For example, a bull-headed lyre is in the bass register, a cow-headed lyre is a tenor, and a calf-headed lyre is an alto.[132] The legs of the instrument were meant to represent animal legs, with the rear post as the tail. The instrument was played either in place with its legs on the ground, or as part of a procession,[32] carried over the shoulder with a strap.[132]

The lute may have originated in Mesopotamia,[133] or it may have been introduced from surrounding regions, such as by the Hittites, Hurrians or Kassites,[133] or from the west by nomadic people of the semidesert plains of Syria.[134] The oldest pictorial record of lute playing is on an Uruk-period cylinder seal (British Museum) dating to 3100 BCE that depicts a female figure with a long-necked instrument sitting at the back of boat in a musician's posture.[135] Later representations appear after the Third Dynasty of Ur, including a relief from Larsa (Louvre) showing a sexual scene involving two participants, a lute, and a small drum;[136] a relief from Mari (Iraq Museum) depicting bow-legged figures playing three-stringed lutes while apes watch;[136] a relief from Nippur (Philadelphia Museum) showing a shepherd playing a lute;[136] a relief from Nippur (Iraq Museum) showing a figure holding a lute in the right hand and a plectrum in the left;[136] a relief from Uruk (Vorderasiatisches Museum) showing a lute being played alongside a lyre;[137] and a Kassite seal (Louvre) showing the same.[137] Lutes were modified and adapted as they influenced neighboring regions.

Two surviving tablets give instructions for tuning string instruments.[138] According to Sam Mirelman, these tablets are better thought of in terms of re-tuning rather than tuning:[138]

It is more accurate to describe both these texts as "modulation" texts. Essentially, they are instructions which tell a musician how he or she can change a sammû instrument's tuning from one "mode" to another. The method of modulation is essentially cyclical. One can proceed either via successive tightening of "unclear" dichords, or conversely via successive loosening of "unclear" dichords.[138]

David Wulstan offers an excerpt from a small fragment of such a text:[139]

If the harp is in išartum tuning,

You have played the qablitum interval

You adjust strings II and IX

And the harp is now in kitmum tuning

By piecing together such fragments, researchers have been able to come up with what Leon Crickmore called "credible reconstructions"[66] of the Mesopotamian tuning systems for string instruments. A text composed by Shulgi around 2070 BCE gives us technical terms such as ‘tuning up’ (ZI.ZI), ‘tuning down’ (ŠÚ.ŠÚ), ‘tightening’ (GÍD.I), ‘loosening’ (TU.LU), and the term ‘adjust the frets’ (SI.AK).[140] We also know the names of the nine strings: '1st', '2nd', '3rd-thin', 'God-Ea-made-it', '5th', '4th-behind', '3rd-behind', '2nd-behind', '1st-behind'.[141]

Music theory[edit]

Ancient Mesopotamian art has led to some inferences about music theory. For example, musicologist Curt Sachs[142] describes a relief that depicts the Elamite court orchestra as it welcomes the Assyrian conqueror in 650 BCE:

Its seven harpists are identically depicted, except that they are plucking different strings. As the style is realistic, indeed almost photographic, this cannot be accidental; that variety in that one point cannot be explained by any consideration for design. Each harpist plucks two strings, but the only strings plucked are the fifth, eighth, tenth, fifteenth, and eighteenth of the set. If the instruments, as it is likely to suppose, were tuned to a pentatonic scale – say on C, without half-tones – the plucked notes were A, e, a, e', a', e", that is, a fifth chord orchestrated in the modern way, the two notes being distributed among the seven players in different combinations, as double octave, octave, unison, and fifth.[142]

Example of the F-Lydian scale

From this relief, Sachs draws three conclusions: (1) that musicians used the pentatonic scale, (2) that different orchestra members played different parts, and (3) that musicians knew how to use chords.[143] We also know that the Mesopotamians used a heptatonic,[144][54] diatonic,[145] Lydian[146][147] scale. They had the concept of musical intervals, including the octave, understood the circle of fifths,[148][149][150] and a Babylonian tablet reveals the Mesopotamians also used another visualization of the heptatonic tuning system represented as a seven-pointed star.[151] The ancient Mesopotamians used a cyclic theory of music;[152] on a nine-stringed harp, the strings were numbered from one to five, then back down to one.[152]

Tablets reveal that string instruments were tuned by alternating descending fourths and ascending fifths; this tuning procedure would later called Pythagorean,[153] although the Babylonians had worked out the heptatonic system many centuries before Greece.[154] The seven heptatonic scales (and their Greek equivalents) were: išartu (Dorian), kitmu (Hypodorian), embūbu (Phrygian), pūtu (Hypophrygian), nīd qabli (Lydian), nīš gabarî (Hypolydian), qablītu (Mixolydian).[155] The Babylonians regarded the tritone as dissonant and called it ‘impure’.[156] Duchesne-Guillemin lists the four rules that governed the tuning of these instruments:[153]

1. an ascending fifth and a descending fourth are used;

2. the heptachord is a limit not to be exceeded in the alternating process. Hence the alternation is interrupted on the 4th string (the Ea-string) and gives way to a succession of two descending fourths;

3. the first tuning gesture starts on the group of strings after which the mode is named and which is characterized by having the half-tone between its highest two notes;

4. the tuning ends on the tritone. In order to change to the next scale, the tritone is inflected to reach consonance.[153]

A corpus of thousands of surviving clay tablets provide additional details about ancient Mesopotamian music theory.[157] While some relate to tuning,[158] others relate to musical scales.[144] An Akkadian language mathematical text contains references to musical strings,[22] and a tablet from Ugarit lists musical interval names along with two numbers,[159] presumably referring to the two strings plucked.[160]


Mesopotamia-Egypt trade routes
Mesopotamia-Indus trade routes

Ancient Mesopotamian music had a lasting and widespread influence on music history. Trade routes allowed for the free flow of musical instruments, and classical education allowed for the spread of theory and ideas.[161] Musician-priests were formed into guilds and housed in the temple college[74] from 1300 BCE onwards,[162] attracting intellectual attention from across the region. Bahrain, home to an independent culture of its own, had connections with both the Indus Valley Civilization to the southeast, and also with Mesopotamia to the north.[163] For much of ancient history, Egypt, Israel, Phoenicia, Syria, Babylonia, Asia Minor, Italy, and Greece together formed what musicologist Claire Polin called a “musical province in which free intercourse created understanding in musical exchange”.[164] Musicologist Peter van der Merwe writes:

The harps, lyres, lutes, and pipes of Mesopotamia spread into Egypt, and later into Greece, and, mainly through the Greek influence, to Rome. Via the Roman empire they then made their way into Northern Europe. From Egypt the same instruments spread south and westward into black Africa, where some of them survive to this day.[165]

The spread of some instruments can be traced. The lute, or sinnitu, appeared in Mesopotamia about the same time as similar instrument in Egypt, the nefer.[166] This instrument became well known throughout the Near East as the tambour, and has parallels to the Sumerian pan-tur, the Greek pandoura, the Russian balalaika, the Georgian tar,[166] and the Sanskrit/Hindi vînâ.[167] The Hebrew flute (halil) is derived from the Akkadian hal-hallatu.[168] Egypt in the New Kingdom borrowed instruments from Mesopotamia, such as an angular vertical harp and a square drum.[169] A seal from Ur dated to 2,800 BCE depicts a small animal playing a pair of clappers; similar clappers appear in ancient Egypt centuries later.[170] Contemporary East African lyres and West African lutes preserve many features of Mesopotamian instruments.[165] Mesopotamian harps diffused as far west as the Mediterranean and as far east as Asia.[171] Mesopotamian influence in Syria can be seen in the abbūba, tablā, pelāggā, qarnā, and zemmōra instruments.[172]

Plaque with musician playing a lute, Ischali, Isin-Larsa period, 2000-1600 BC, baked clay - Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago.

Classical education also helped disseminate musical ideas. The Mesopotamian musical system made up part of the classical education curriculum that scribes, priests and other educated professionals went through, and there were major Mesopotamian music centers at the temples of Babylon, Sippar, Nippur, and Erech.[166] These musical centers became famous in the western world and attracted the attention of the Greeks, including Pythagoras,[128] for their musical achievements in addition to those in mathematics and astronomy.[173] This classical education spread abroad during the second millennium BCE,[161] and these musical systems came to represent a common language from which cities abroad could adapt to their local circumstances in syncretism.[161]

For example, pottery in the Mediterranean and Near East showed a common, stereotyped motif — a typical musical ensemble that could be found throughout the region, consisting of lyres, double pipes, and percussion.[174] Variations in this motif show local adaption, for example in ancient Greece the asymmetrical West Semitic lyres are replaced with Hellenistic instruments.[174] We also can see the influence in religious practices related to music. The Sumerian logogram for ‘gala’ (kalû in Akkadian) appeared in Hatti, where the word also designated a musician-priest—a type of drummer—and was pronounced as in Hittite as šahtarili.[175] While the gala and šahtarili were both musicians and priests, they were not identical.[175] The Sumerian gala priests were often associated with a third gender category, whereas the šahtarili were typically men;[175] furthermore, there was no Hatti counterpart to Ištar - the two types of priests were involved in the worship of two distinct pantheons.[175]


Mesopotamian music had a strong influence in ancient Greece. The practice of deifying stringed instruments originated in Mesopotamia during the late third millennium BCE, and spread abroad over the next thousand years.[176] In this belief system, the relationship between music and the divine is so strong that an instrument itself could receive a sacrifice, as a god.[47] This practice is echoed in Classical Greece,[162] and also predates the Pythagorean doctrine of the Harmony of the Spheres, in which the tuning of the lyre was seen as “a microcosm of a universal harmony.”[162] The Greeks inherited their numerology-mysticism from the Mesopotamians,[177] and this included seven-note scales and the Greek fascination with the number seven,[151] especially in supernatural contexts, including in the mythology surrounding the Oracle at Delphi.[178] Morever, the Greeks inherited the Mesopotamians’ emphasis on the 7-stringed lyre, a 7-pitched scale, and in compositions that focus on the central string,[179] such as the Hurrian hymns.[161] Greek music, in turn, had a strong influence on Roman music, especially after the Roman conquest of the Greek mainland in 168 BCE;[180] the musical theory inherited by the Romans led to the eight principal modes of Gregorian chant.[148] The modern Western seven-note scales are nearly identical to those used by the Mesopotamians and then the Greeks.[179][181]


Four thousand years ago in ancient Iran, centralized governments began to appear, blending a variety of cultures including the Assyrians, Elamites, Babylonians, Armenians, Kurds, Semites, and more, which together strongly influenced the beginnings of an Iranian culture.[182] Like the Mesopotamians, the Persians connected music to the heavens.[183] Bo Lawergren describes an early Iranian seal that depicts a harp rising above the head of a goddess and concludes, “harp and rite were so strongly linked that it was unnecessary to show the player.”[184] Nevertheless, they’re not identical—while harps shown were similar to those of Mesopotamia, they were used in a secular and more complex setting.[184] Bull-headed lyres also show a heritage; they first flourished in Mesopotamia but spread to Susa, where they retained their strong association with animals.[184] The first lutes appeared in Mesopotamia in 2300 BCE; 1,000 years later lutes would be come the favored instrument in Persia.[184] Parthian songs continue to be performed in Iran today.[184] Persia, in turn, influenced the Greeks, Arabs, and Indians.[185]



  1. ^ a b Kilmer 1974, p. 69.
  2. ^ a b Nettl 2015, p. 295.
  3. ^ a b Wulstan 1971, p. 365.
  4. ^ a b c d West 1994, p. 161.
  5. ^ Burkholder, Grout & Palisca 2014, p. 10.
  6. ^ a b Collon et al. 2003, abstract.
  7. ^ a b Collon et al. 2003, p. §I, 1, (ii).
  8. ^ Collon et al. 2003, p. §I, 2, (b), Ubaid, 4.
  9. ^ Collon et al. 2003, §I, 1, pp. 2.
  10. ^ a b c d Collon et al. 2003, p. §I, 1, pp. 1.
  11. ^ Collon et al. 2003, p. §I, 1, pp. 4.
  12. ^ Collon et al. 2003, p. §I, 1, pp. 3-4.
  13. ^ Collon et al. 2003, p. §I, 3, pp. 1.
  14. ^ a b c d Bowen 2020, p. 68-73.
  15. ^ a b Franklin 2015, p. 63.
  16. ^ Robinson 2009, p. 8.
  17. ^ Jean 1987, Chapter 1.
  18. ^ West 1994, p. 162.
  19. ^ a b Dumbrill 2005, p. 117.
  20. ^ a b Dumbrill 2005, p. 18.
  21. ^ a b c Kramer 1946b, p. 321.
  22. ^ a b Kilmer 1971, p. 132.
  23. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 288.
  24. ^ a b c Kramer 1958, p. 68.
  25. ^ Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, paragraph 4.
  26. ^ a b c Kilmer 1998, p. 12.
  27. ^ a b c d Dorf 2020, p. 34.
  28. ^ Dorf 2020, p. 38.
  29. ^ Dorf 2020, p. 32-34.
  30. ^ Dorf 2020, p. 39.
  31. ^ a b c d Kilmer 1998, p. 15.
  32. ^ a b c Polin 1954, p. 19.
  33. ^ Kilmer 1998, p. 16.
  34. ^ Aruz & Wallenfels 2003, p. 33.
  35. ^ a b c Kilmer & Mirelman 2013, §2 "Pre- and Proto-literate periods".
  36. ^ a b c Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 288.
  37. ^ a b c Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 290.
  38. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 241.
  39. ^ Bowen 2020, p. 68.
  40. ^ Bowen 2020, p. 73.
  41. ^ Krispijn 2010, §3.4.
  42. ^ a b Krispijn 2010, §4.1.
  43. ^ a b Bowen 2020, p. 70.
  44. ^ Bowen 2020, p. 70–72.
  45. ^ a b Mirelman 2009, p. 14.
  46. ^ a b Kramer 1983, p. 73.
  47. ^ a b Franklin 2006, p. 42.
  48. ^ Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, section on drums, paragraph 18.
  49. ^ Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, section on drums, paragraphs 18-19.
  50. ^ Kilmer 1971, p. 137.
  51. ^ Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, section on drums, paragraphs 19-20.
  52. ^ a b c Wellesz 1990, p. 236.
  53. ^ a b Cheng 2009, p. 165.
  54. ^ a b Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 295.
  55. ^ Collon 2003, p. 99.
  56. ^ Martens 1925, p. 198.
  57. ^ Martens 1925, p. 200.
  58. ^ Mirelman 2009, p. 12.
  59. ^ a b c Cooper 2006, p. 44.
  60. ^ Cooper 2006, p. 45.
  61. ^ a b c Burkholder, Grout & Palisca 2014, p. 7.
  62. ^ a b Collon 2003, pp. 96–102.
  63. ^ Krispijn 2008, p. 190.
  64. ^ a b c d e f g Plummeridge 2001, §I "Ancient Traditions".
  65. ^ Kilmer & Tinney 1996, p. 54.
  66. ^ a b Crickmore 2012, p. 57.
  67. ^ Bowen 2020, p. 20.
  68. ^ Lucas 1979, p. 317.
  69. ^ a b c d e f Kilmer & Mirelman 2013, §5 "Old Babylonian period".
  70. ^ Sachs 2012, p. 71.
  71. ^ Mirelman 2009, p. 13.
  72. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mirelman 2009, p. 15.
  73. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 231.
  74. ^ a b Wellesz 1990, p. 232.
  75. ^ Mirelman 2009, p. 16.
  76. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 237.
  77. ^ Kramer 1946.
  78. ^ Kramer 1960.
  79. ^ a b c Kramer 1967, p. 375.
  80. ^ Kramer 1967, p. 375-376.
  81. ^ Kramer 1967, p. 376.
  82. ^ Kramer 1967, pp. 372–373.
  83. ^ Michalowski 2006, p. 49.
  84. ^ a b c d e f Michalowski 2006, p. 50.
  85. ^ Hallo 1968, p. 2.
  86. ^ a b Hallo 1968, p. 4.
  87. ^ a b Hallo 1968, p. 3.
  88. ^ Hallo 1968, p. 3-4.
  89. ^ Hallo 1968, p. 5.
  90. ^ a b Bowen 2020, p. 68-69.
  91. ^ a b c Cooper 2006, pp. 43–44.
  92. ^ Engel 1864, p. 28.
  93. ^ Franklin 2015, chapter 2.
  94. ^ a b Franklin 2015, p. 58.
  95. ^ Bowen 2019, Appendix G.
  96. ^ Bowen 2019, pp. 28–29.
  97. ^ Franklin 2015, p. 69.
  98. ^ a b Franklin 2015, p. 59.
  99. ^ Gabbay 2014, abstract.
  100. ^ Franklin 2015, p. 68.
  101. ^ Franklin 2015, p. 60.
  102. ^ Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, section on drums, paragraph 11.
  103. ^ Franklin 2015, p. 61.
  104. ^ a b Franklin 2015, p. 78.
  105. ^ Franklin 2015, p. 72.
  106. ^ Malm 1967, p. 58.
  107. ^ a b van der Merwe 1989, p. 11.
  108. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 238.
  109. ^ Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 288–290.
  110. ^ a b c Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 289.
  111. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 239.
  112. ^ a b Polin 1954, p. 16.
  113. ^ Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, section on drums, paragraph 17.
  114. ^ a b Wellesz 1990, p. 230.
  115. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 248.
  116. ^ Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 290–291.
  117. ^ a b Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 291.
  118. ^ Kramer 1969, p. 5.
  119. ^ Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, 9th paragraph after Figure 28.
  120. ^ a b c Lawergren 2000, p. 122.
  121. ^ Lawergren 2000, p. 123.
  122. ^ George 1999, p. 68.
  123. ^ Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  124. ^ British Museum a.
  125. ^ British Museum b.
  126. ^ British Museum c.
  127. ^ Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 292–295.
  128. ^ a b Wellesz 1990, p. 242.
  129. ^ Dumbrill 2005, p. 179.
  130. ^ Engel 1864, p. 17.
  131. ^ Engel 1864, p. 30.
  132. ^ a b c d Polin 1954, p. 18.
  133. ^ a b Turnbull 1972, p. 58.
  134. ^ Turnbull 1972, p. 63.
  135. ^ Dumbrill, Richard (2011). "Organology and philology of an Urukean Lute". Proceedings of the 2011 International Conference of Near-Eastern Archaeomusicology (Senate House, University of London, 1-3 December 2011). ICONEA Publications. pp. 67–79.
  136. ^ a b c d Turnbull 1972, p. 61.
  137. ^ a b Turnbull 1972, p. 62.
  138. ^ a b c Mirelman & Krispijn 2009, p. 43.
  139. ^ Wulstan 1968, p. 220.
  140. ^ Kilmer & Mirelman 2013, §4 "Neo-Sumerian period".
  141. ^ Kilmer 1971, p. 133.
  142. ^ a b Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, section on harps, paragraphs 15-16.
  143. ^ Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, section on harps, paragraph 17.
  144. ^ a b Kilmer 1998, p. 14.
  145. ^ Burkholder, Grout & Palisca 2014, p. 8.
  146. ^ van der Woude 2022, p. 96.
  147. ^ Crickmore 2008, p. 11.
  148. ^ a b Lord 2008, p. 8.
  149. ^ Kilmer & Tinney 1996, p. 56.
  150. ^ Gurney 1968, p. 233.
  151. ^ a b Franklin 2015, p. 83.
  152. ^ a b Kilmer 1971, p. 134.
  153. ^ a b c Duchesne-Guillemin 1984, p. 13.
  154. ^ Duchesne-Guillemin 1984, p. 9.
  155. ^ Kilmer & Mirelman 2013, §8 "Theory and practice", table.
  156. ^ Duchesne-Guillemin 1984, p. 11.
  157. ^ Kilmer & Mirelman 2013, § "Introduction".
  158. ^ Kilmer 1998, p. 13.
  159. ^ Kilmer 1976, p. 7.
  160. ^ Güterbock 1970, pp. 48–49.
  161. ^ a b c d Franklin 2006, p. 41.
  162. ^ a b c Franklin 2006, p. 46.
  163. ^ Thomas 1970, p. 337.
  164. ^ Polin 1954, p. 36.
  165. ^ a b van der Merwe 1989, p. 10.
  166. ^ a b c Polin 1954, p. 20.
  167. ^ Dumbrill 2005, p. 318.
  168. ^ Polin 1954, p. 17.
  169. ^ Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 297.
  170. ^ Sachs 2012, Chapter 3, section on idiophonic instruments, paragraph 4.
  171. ^ Duchesne-Guillemin 1981, p. 299.
  172. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 424.
  173. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 246.
  174. ^ a b Franklin 2006, p. 45.
  175. ^ a b c d Peled 1970, pp. 109–111.
  176. ^ Franklin 2006, p. abstract.
  177. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 247.
  178. ^ Franklin 2006, p. 56-58.
  179. ^ a b Franklin 2006, p. 40.
  180. ^ Lord 2008, p. 11.
  181. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 253.
  182. ^ During 1991, p. 231.
  183. ^ Wellesz 1990, p. 426.
  184. ^ a b c d e Lawergren 2016.
  185. ^ Spencer 2004, p. 87.


Further reading[edit]

  • Civil, Miguel (2010). The lexical texts in the Schøyen Collection. Bethesda, Maryland: CDL Press. pp. 203–214. ISBN 978-1-934309-11-7.
  • Collon, Dominique (2010). "Playing in Concert in the Ancient Near East". In Dumbrill, Richard; Finkel, Irving (eds.). Proceedings of the International Conference of Near Eastern Archaeomusicology (ICONEA 2008), The British Museum, London, December 4–6, 2008. London: Iconea Publications. pp. 47–65.
  • de Schauensee, Maude (2002). Two lyres from Ur (1st ed.). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. ISBN 978-0-924171-88-8.
  • Duchesne-Guillemin, Marcelle (1980). "Sur la restitution de la musique hourrite". Revue de Musicologie. 66 (1): 5–26. doi:10.2307/928544. JSTOR 928544.
  • Dumbrill, Richard J. (2010). "Evidence and Inference in Texts of Theory in the Ancient Near East". In Dumbrill, Richard; Finkel, Irving (eds.). Proceedings of the International Conference of Near Eastern Archaeomusicology (ICONEA 2008), The British Museum, London, December 4–6, 2008. London: Iconea Publications. pp. 105–116.
  • Ellermeier, Friedrich (1970). Sibyllen, Musikanten, Haremsfrauen. Aufsätze. Herzberg am Harz: Jungfer. ISBN 978-3-921747-05-6.
  • Michalowski, Piotr (2010). "Learning Music: Schooling, Apprenticeship, and Gender in Early Mesopotamia". In Pruzsinszky, Regine; Shehata, Dahlia (eds.). Musiker und Tradierung: Studien zur Rolle von Musikern bei der Verschriftlichung und Tradierung von literarischen Werken. Wien: LIT Verlag. pp. 199–240. ISBN 978-3-643-50131-8.
  • Mitchell, T. C. (1992). "The Music of the Old Testament Reconsidered". Palestine Exploration Quarterly. 124 (2): 124–143. doi:10.1179/peq.1992.124.2.124. ISSN 0031-0328.
  • Norborg, Åke (1995). Ancient Middle Eastern Lyres. Musikmuseets.
  • Rimmer, Joan (1969). Ancient musical instruments of Western Asia in the Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities, the British Museum. London. ISBN 978-0-7141-1045-5.
  • Vitale, Raoul (1982). "La Musique suméro-accadienne: gamme et notation musicale". Ugarit-Forschungen 14 (1982): 241–263.

External links[edit]