Monday, May 18, 2009

The Ur “Harps”

Sir Leonard Woolley’s excavations at the city of Ur turned some harps (or lyres). They were made of wood and decorated with gold and Lapis Lazuli bull’s heads. They range in size from small ones, which could be held in the arms while being played, to large ones that needed to be set on the floor to be played. The picture here was taken in the British Museum.

When these musical instruments were found they wood had completely decomposed. Woolley carefully poured plaster into the places in the dirt where the wood had once been, thereby preserving the shape of the instruments.

Currently, a team is attempting to create a modern replica of the ancient lyre. A website devoted to this project can be found here. The website is very interesting and I would recommend you take a look at it.

C.L. Woolley and P.R.S. Moorey, Ur of the Chaldees, revised edition Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, (1982)

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