Nov 1, 2005

Bull's Harp Reproduction

News article. Just read where a team of engineers at the University of Liverpool has helped reproduce an "Bull's Harp (technically a lyre)" that Sir Leonard Woolley discoverd in 1929 in the ancient city of ur. The laser work on the body on the front of the harp was done in shells from the Indian Ocean. Woolley would be impressed that now the harp can be heard playing the 3500 year old Ugaritic Hurrain hymn to Nikkal in harmony and melody (“World’s Oldest Musical Notation Deciphered on Cuneiform Tablet” Biblical Archaeology Review 6:5 (Sep/Oct 1980)). This is one of the most beautiful pieces I have seen in the British Museum. The artisanship of the gold, lapis lazuli, and shells demonstrates that the ancient were not backward cave dwellers but sophisticated metropolitan citizens. If anyone is aware of this harp being played in a concert I'd love to know about it. I understand that it was used in the Live 8 Edinburgh International Harp Festival. Now that would be something to hear.
The museum curators and restorations staff did a marvellous job in rebuilding the original as well. The wood of course was new construction and the gold head had collapsed due to deterioration of the wooden structure. To see it today one would not believe the condition originally. (see the image of Sir Leonard Woolley carrying the original lyre from the excavation site.) to think that Abraham may have heard a similar harp.

Actually this is not the first reproduction of ancient harps. Professor Robert R. Brown,
Richard L. Crocker and Anne Kilmer of the University of California at Berkeley, also built a working model of the Silver Lyre made out of wood. The deep sound these harps make may have reproduced the bovine sounds represented by the bulls on the front of the instrument. Whatever the case the bulls were a common Summerian appearance.

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