The harp and its interesting history. Surprise yourself with the following find

Although we can consider the harp as an instrument of very remote origins, it may not be very clear to us how old it can be. The excavation led by Roman Mimojod reveals an interesting discovery about this beautiful instrument dating from the 6th to 4th centuries BC. c.

Music and evolution of instruments

The instruments we know today are the result of a wide variety of changes that have been adapted to them over time. These changes can be very subtle or, on the contrary, imply a radical change in the definition, concept and appearance of the device, in such a way that it could give rise to very different ones.

In addition, if we analyze the reasons why these modifications originated, we can find that they can be very diverse; for example, they could be related to the needs and creativity of the interpreter who used them at the time, since sometimes their body dimensions or special situations do not allow them to be comfortable with the original characteristics, but these changes can also be related to experiments conceived by the same artisans who produced them, with the intention of making a difference against other recognized workshops or as a way to leave a mark of their legacy, trying to bring some improvement to the original design.

Guessing the origins of the harp

If we focus on the particular case of the instrument that interests us on this occasion, that is, the harp, we can enter a fascinating world of speculation to find out its origin. Let’s start by defining it in the simplest way; It is an interesting artifact, characterized by having several strings included in a rigid frame, capable of withstanding considerable tension, in order to achieve sounds of a particular tessitura.

Now, this artifact is quite difficult to trace throughout history and it is really complex to know for sure how its chronological evolution was. The problem lies mainly in the fact that it is an instrument that has been manufactured throughout its evolution, mostly with materials that deteriorate very easily, since they are susceptible to temperature, exposure to conditions such as humidity, insect pests that can ingest it, etc. This has made it very unlikely to find a truly ancient harp that is preserved in a condition to be analyzed, in order to rescue valuable data about the changes it has undergone with these studies.

However, the findings that have been found in various parts of the planet, made many conclude that the origins of the harp went back to a geographical place that we currently know as Ireland and its outskirts, including some British Isles, from where they consider that it left. expanding the use of this musical artifact, mainly among poets. It is estimated that they were the ones who began to use this resource mainly with the aim of giving greater emphasis and attractiveness to their narratives. 

Let us remember that in ancient times, as there was no official newspaper that people could read, these were the characters in charge of bringing the news of the moment and to gather a greater number of people around them, they were ingenious in their way of capturing the attention

These conclusions are based on the traces that have been graphically engraved on some rocks, where human figures can be seen holding objects very similar to a harp and which are estimated to belong to the year 1000 of our era. However, there are other theories, which are related to other objects found, that shed new light on the history of this instrument in a place that is not exactly near Scotland. For example, there is a representation of ancient Greek art dating back to 2800-2700 BC. C, where a carved harpist can be seen in a marble statuette.

a new discovery

Definitely, one of the best ways to discover data about civilizations prior to ours is through excavations, carried out in the ruins of already extinct cities. The experts who conduct this type of study are able to recognize through small objects some indications of what their daily life was like, customs and, of course, music is part of the information that can be retrieved. 

Although it is common for various objects to be found in excavations, sometimes these are unusual, as happened in the project led by scientists from the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in what was an ancient tomb corresponding to the kingdom of Bosphorus. In this tomb, in addition to the remains of two people, you can also see those of a triangular-shaped instrument, recognized by experts as a harp. The finding was reported after having investigated around six hundred tombs, in such a way that we can conclude that it was not a common occurrence to find this type of artifact.

The find is included in the work of Roman Mimojod in Krasnodar, Russia and the discovery is now known as “Taman’s harp”, and among other important data, we can highlight that it is an event from around the year VI a. C. being in this way the oldest and best preserved Greek harp that has been found until today.

Curiously, the harp is found broken, but apparently this was not accidental, but a provoked action that could have been part of the funerary ritual, but the reason for this may never be known. But what is a fact is that this discovery lets us know that since the beginning of the Middle Ages, the harp was already an instrument that accompanied the music performers of these years in this geographical place.

Among the interesting facts about the object, we can also highlight that this instrument was partially consolidated on a bone base, with pins made of bronze, something that considerably influenced its conservation. What makes us speculate that perhaps it was the best harp of the moment, because it was peculiar and resistant. In addition, among other objects, a bone plectrum can also be found in the find, which could have been the accessory with which the harp was played while accompanying the interpreter.

Best preserved ancient harps

If we talk about the ancient harps that we can appreciate in good condition and that belonged to a time very distant from ours, we cannot fail to mention that of the Irish King Brian Boru, which is an instrument with dimensions of approximately 75 cm, beautifully decorated and that has metal aggregates. But there is also another very interesting one that is awarded to Queen Mary of Scotland.

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