The oldest song in the world: Listen to the sounds of ancient Syria

Published February 19th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
The ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria are seen in 2010. (Shutterstock)
The ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria are seen in 2010. (Shutterstock)

Middle Eastern cities seem to be in a never-ending competition for which city is actually the oldest and continuously inhabited. Cities throughout Syria are at the top of the list, and we do know that the Syrian settlement of Ugarit, now called Ras Shamra, has been inhabited since at least 6,000 BCE. By the 15th century BCE, it had transformed into a strategic port city with trade connections in the Hittite Empire in southern Turkey and the Egyptian Empire.

Its cultural relics have been preserved in the form of grand palaces, temples, and libraries containing clay tablets. But beyond this, archaeologists in the 1950s also discovered what turned out to be the oldest piece of music known to mankind. 

The 3,400 year old song is a hymn composed of cuneiform signs in the ancient Hurrian language. The compositions, probably played on lyres, were dedicated to Nikkal, a goddess worshipped as the safe-keeper of orchards and gardens.

Experts have been able to recreate the melody of the Hurrian hymns, performing it on modern-day instruments for 21st century audiences to enjoy.

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