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Music in Ancient Egypt

Music played a very important part in ancient Egyptian life. From all periods there are scenes in temples and tombs showing musicians playing. Deities were praised in songs and many women of the elite had titles such as 'chantress of Amun', demonstrating the importance of music in the cults of the gods. The Egyptians did not have musical notations (in contrast to the Sumerians and Greeks). The sound of the music is therefore lost. However, musical instruments have survived, and from these it is possible to reconstruct at least the range of possible sounds.

Manniche 1991 distinguished several areas where music played an important part: worship of gods, military and processional music, music at the court, music and sexuality, and the 'songs of the harpist'. The latter is a figure often shown in tomb scenes singing songs

Depictions in Art
musical instruments
Written sources
UC 33398

further reading:

Modern recording of ancient (Near Eastern) music:

A. Draffkorn/R.L. Crocker/R.R. Brown. Sounds from Silence. (CD or LP record - hard to get)


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