minstrel: Oldest known musical score!

Shane B. CyberGaddabout shaneb at ij.net
Sat Aug 19 00:06:13 PDT 2000

Oldest known musical score!


In Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra) in Syria, an ancient tablet was
discovered in the 1950s dating back to 1400 BC. The oldest known
musical score, it takes the form of interval names and number signs,
and even has lyrics. The text is identified as a hymn to the moon
goddess Nikkal.

There is some controversy among ancient musicologists over the proper
interpretation of the notes, but all agree that it is a genuine
musical score. The markings were made in cuneiform (wedge-shaped
symbols) in the Hurrian language, and there is an exact
correspondence between the syllables of the text and the musical

The find was especially interesting because it overturned
conventional views of ancient music, showing that the diatonic
(7-note) scale and musical harmony were in use more than a thousand
years earlier than was thought.

Listen to the song and read about the different interpretations:

More about the "oldest song in the world" with drawings of the tablet:
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