Assyria’s National Instrument

The journal Iraq, published by the British School of Archaeology in Iraq recently printed an academic article about Assyrian music that I wrote. The citation is:

Cheng, Jack, “The Horizontal Forearm Harp: Assyria’s National Instrument,” Iraq 74, 2012, p. 75-87.

Here’s the abstract:

A horizontal harp, strung with 7 to 9 strings and usually decorated with a finial in the shape of a human forearm, was likely symbolic of the Neo-Assyrian state. Various features distinguish this musical instrument from contemporary Elamite harps, or other harps in Mesopotamian history. The horizontal forearm harp was the most frequently depicted musical instrument on Neo-Assyrian palace reliefs and bronze doors; pairs of male Assyrians play the harp for the king in official duties of state or cult. The decorative forearm sometimes wears the rosette bracelet associated with royalty. Speculating on the iconographic significance of the forearm suggests possible Neo-Assyrian attitudes toward music.
Feel free to contact me (by leaving a comment here) if you’d like me to send you a .pdf.

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