EARLIEST KNOWN MUSIC & INSTRUMENTS DOCUMENT

MS 2340
MS Short Title EARLIEST KNOW MUSIC & INSTRUMENTS RECORD
Text LEXICAL LIST OF 9 TYPES OF MUSICAL STRINGS, 23 TYPES OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS AND MUSIC, INCLUDING DIFFERENT TYPES OF STRINGED INSTRUMENTS SUCH AS HARP AND LYRE, AS WELL AS HITHERTO UNKNOWN INSTRUMENTS; FURTHER LAPIS LAZULI, BEDS, COPPER UTENSILS, TEXTILES, DOMESTIC ANIMALS AND SINEWS, JEWELLERY, WEAPONS, LEATHER PARTS OF YOKE, STRAPS, SACKS, TYPES OF SHEEP, KNIVES, AROMATICS AND PERFUMES, REED OBJECTS, GRAINS AND FLOURS, ETC.
Description MS in Sumerian on clay, Sumer, 26th c. BC, upper half of a huge tablet + fragment of lower part, 20x30x5 cm + 9x18x5 cm, originally ca. 40x30x5 cm, 16+9 and 7+7 columns, 437+ ca. 100 lines remaining in cuneiform script, circular depressions introducing each new entry
Binding Barking, Essex, 1996, green quarter morocco gilt folding case by Aquarius.
Context

Similar, smaller tablets are known from Fara or Tell Abu Salabikh. 3 compilations all from 26th c. BC have music instruments. The present tablet is almost a duplicate of a relatively well-known lexical list, discussed by Miguel Civil in Cagni, Ebla 1975-1985, pp. 133 ff. The obverse is an abbreviated recension with minor changes in the sequence of the entries. The reverse is the continuation of the unfinished Fara recension.

The fragment of this MS was earlier than MS 2524. This number is now used for another tablet. Another fragment of the same tablet is Mikhail Collection, published in Pettinato 1997 no.2.

Provenance
Commentary

The earliest known record of music and musical instruments in history. The name of one of the stringed instruments is a Semitic word, ki-na-ru, the later kinnaru known from the Mari letters and Ras Shamra texts (13th c. BC, cfr. MS 1955/1-6), and the still later Biblical Hebrew kinnor. The system of phonetic notation in Sumer and Babylonia is based on a music terminology that gives individual names to 9 musical strings or "notes", and to 14 basic terms describing intervals of the 4th and 5th that were used in tuning string instruments (according to 7 heptatonic diatonic scales), and terms for 3rds and 6ths that appear to have been used to fine tune (or temper in some way) the 7 notes generated for each scale. The combination of string names and interval terms is used to describe the tuning procedure and the generation of the 7 scales and form a skeletal phonetic notation. (The New Grove, 2nd ed., vol. 18, p. 74.) The oldest musical instruments known are a ca. 41 000 BC flute made of bear bone, found in 1995 at a Neanderthal site in Slovenia, and 6 intact and 30 fragmentary crane bone flutes from Jiahu, in the Chinese province of Henan, dated to 9000-7700 BC. One crane bone flute is still in playing order, the earliest instrument possible to play.

Published Miguel Civil: The Lexical Texts in the Schøyen Collection, Cornell University Studies in Assyriology and Sumerology, vol. 12, Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection, Cuneiform texts V. CDL Press, Bethesda, MD, 2010, text 6.3.1, pp. 203-214.
Exhibited
Mentioned Miguel Civil: The Early Dynastic practical vocabulary A (Archaic HAR-ra A). Roma, Missione Archeologica Italiana in Siria, 2008, pp. 3, 93-102.
Boxing
Colophon
See also
Place of origin Sumer
Dates 26c BC

Location