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Status & Dedication
Discovery & excavation at Ur
Gold Lyre Introduction
Music in Mesopotamia
Lyre reconstruction & anatomy
Audio clips

The Gold Lyre of Ur, c. 2650 BC (BCE)

Music in Mesopotamia:

The discovery of numerous musical instruments in royal burial sites helps illustrate the prominent role music played in Sumerian life and religion. Musicians and their instruments appear frequently in the artwork and archeological artifacts of Iraq's deep antiquity.

While the exact music from ancient Mesopotamia can never be recovered, Iraq has produced intruiging written evidence supporting the existence of sophisticated music theory and practice in Sumerian, Babylonian and Akkadian cultures. A family of musical texts inscribed in cuneiform tablets reveal a wealth of musical information about specific tuning modes, string names and hymns. These written documents demonstrate that musical activity was being recorded a thousand years prior to the rise of ancient Greek civilization, a culture commonly credited with the earliest development of musical documents.

Left: full-scale Sumerian Gold Lyre replica by Douglas Irvine. Original instrument: Ur, circa 2650 BC (BCE). Material: wood (cedar, pine, oak). Size: approximate height: 1 meter (36").

Sounds of the Gold Lyre replica are featured in Douglas Irvine's CD, Ambient Egypt. The recording features dozens of ancient instruments from Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Status & Dedication / Gold Lyre Introduction / Lyre Reconstruction & Anatomy
Discovery & Excavation at Ur /
Music in Mesopotamia / Audio Clips