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The origin of the Greek tortoise-shell lyre

"The history of stringed instruments in the Aegean begins with the third-millennium Cycladic civilization, which possessed a form of triangular harp. In the second millennium, box-lyres appeared for the first time in the Aegean, among the Minoans, and the harp appears to have vanished. The change from harp to lyre as the exclusive stringed instrument of the region has beenexplained in two ways: one theory claims that the Cycladic harp evolved into the Minoan lyre; another claims that the lyre was introduced into the Aegean from the East, where its origins can be traced to fourth-millennium Sumer. The second appears to be the more well-founded of the two theories, although the possible influence ofCycladic instruments on the shape of the Minoan lyre cannot be discounted. The Myceneans inherited the Minoan box-lyre, but before the collapse of their civilization a new variant on it had beendeveloped. This was the tortoise-shell lyre, alighter, more simply built instrument whose shape essentially follows that of the box-lyre. It made its first appearance in the Bronze Age, is found in Greek art early in the Archaic Period, and appears in literature about a century later, by which time it had become a common instrument in the Greek world. A look at the very similar bowl-lyres of modern Africa helps to establish a southward direction for the instrument''s migration, and a Hellenistic date for the lyra''s arrival in Egypt denies the possibility of an African genesis for the instrument. Neither can claims of its European origin be substantiated. The lyra appears to have been a Bronze-Age Aegean invention whose form was inspired by the originally Mesopotamian box-lyre."

Author(s):  Creese, David E. (David Evan)
Format:  Book
Publisher:  National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada
Publication City:  Ottawa
Date:  [1998]
Source:  Canadian theses = Thèses canadiennes
ISBN:  0612248224