Tel Megiddo

Tel Megiddo. By AVRAM GRAICER – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Ancient musical instruments is the theme—with variations—of this special section. Even before people invented writing they used music to accompany their ceremonies and the express their feelings.

More than 5,000 years ago, someone walking through a courtyard in Megiddo paused to scratch a drawing in the stone pavement. This graffito of a six-inch-high male figure holding a large harp-like instrument in the earliest depiction of a stringed instrument. It demonstrates the birth of the lyre out of the idea of the harp.

In this early instrument, similar to a harp, the arm, to which the strings are fastened, was an incurving continuation of the body. Later, in true lyres, the yoke, or horizontal crossbar, evolved into a separate element which spanned the two arms.

In the articles that follow true lyres are described and pictured along with other ancient musical instruments.

Read Ancient Musical Instruments: Introduction in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.