Ancient Mesopotamian Music

Date: 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015, 6:00pm

Location: 

Northwest Building, Lecture Hall B103, 52 Oxford Street

Special Event with Richard Dumbrill, Director of ICONEA (International Conference of Near Eastern Archaeomusicology) at the Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, and Professor of Archaeomusicology, University of Babylon

Irving Finkel, Assistant Keeper, The British Museum

Respondent: Professor Piotr Michalowski, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Some of the earliest known examples of musical notation have been found in the region of modern-day Syria and Iraq and date back almost four thousand years. These early compositions—recorded in cuneiform script on clay tablets—have become better understood in recent years. This program will trace the history of early musical composition and discuss advances in the theory of its interpretation. The speakers will demonstrate the sound of this music using reconstructed instruments and show how these were built and played in the Bronze Age. Earlier recordings and video clips will illustrate shifts in the understanding of the compositions, as scholars have gone from interpreting them through a lens of Hellenistic tradition to recognizing them as early examples of the Near Eastern musical tradition and direct ancestors of the Oriental musical system. 

Presented in collaboration with the Harvard Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and the Harvard Department of Music, with the support of the Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities at Harvard University.

Free event parking available at the 52 Oxford Street Garage.

The Lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are required for the Ancient Mesopotamia Cuisine ReceptionTickets are no longer available for the Ancient Mesopotamia Cuisine. This event has been sold out.

Ancient Mesopotamia Cuisine Reception at the Harvard Semitic Museum


Experience a culinary journey to ancient Mesopotamia. This special event will present a curated selection of foods and beverages based on the earliest recorded recipes from the Ancient Near East. For a multi-sensory experience, attend the special event on ancient Mesopotamian music prior to this reception.

Menu features dishes based on 4000-year old recipes, and other ancient culinary documents, adapted for the event by award-winning food scholar Nawal Nasrallah and catered by The Middle East Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Sample dips with tannour-bread, a lamb stew with dried apricots and black-eyed peas, and an aromatic side dish of wheat and lentils. For dessert, nibble on the ancient date-candy Mersu.

During the reception, Dr. Piotr Michalowski, a renowned jazz musician and Professor of Sumerology at the University of Michigan, will give a short performance on saxophone of his modern interpretations of early music.

Tickets are no longer available. This event has been sold out.

$40 members/$50 nonmembers

Free event parking available at the 52 Oxford Street Garage.