Friday 26 October 2007

Manolis Mikrakis
University of Heidelberg

Archaeology of Music in ancient Crete
Intentional production of organised sound which goes beyond mere linguistic communication is recorded in one form or another in all known cultures. From roughly the last 40,000 years, we possess the material remains of man’s encounter with sound, such as musical instruments and musical scenes in the visual arts. These remains are investigated within the two disciplines of archaeology and musicology under the umbrella of music archaeology.
In Crete, the mythological birthplace of the Muses’ art and the home of many famed musicians throughout history to the present day, tangible archaeological evidence for the intentional production of sound begins during the late Prepalatial period (MM IA) with the clay sistrum of Archanes. It was at the time when a range a of new features appeared, including writing, Peak Sanctuaries, specialised craft production, organised overseas trade and other constituent elements of the emerging palatial civilization. Throughout the centuries that followed until early LM IIIB, evidence relevant to music is by no means lacking from the most important centres of authority. This then poses the questions: What was the contribution of music to the physiognomy of palatial civilization and what was its role, more generally, in Minoan society?
The lecture touches on these questions concentrating on the Old Palace period (MM IB – MM IIB) and on the technical, theoretical, ritual and social aspects of its musical culture. Based on old and more recent finds, to which are added scattered pieces of evidence from prehistoric scripts, the following aspects will be examined: the technology of stringed instruments, the genesis of the Minoan lyre, the musical systems that can be detected based on the number and position of the strings, the religious and ideological uses of music, as well as the influences on Crete from the musically advanced civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly Egypt.
The lecture is based on a wider piece of research on music in the Aegean and Cyprus up to the 7th century B.C. which was submitted by the speaker as a doctoral thesis in Classical Archaeology to the School of Philosophy, University of Heidelberg. The thesis was approved in July 2006.


Next Seminar

Friday 12 May 18.30

M. Marthari
Raos on Thera...