“Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.” – 1 Samuel 16:23
The “Lyre of Har Megiddo” is an instrument etched onto an ivory plaque that was discovered by archaeologist Gordon Loud in the excavations of a royal palace in the ancient city of Megiddo (aka Armageddon) in Israel, dating to the 2nd Millennium BCE, circa 1200 BCE (currently on display in the Rockerfeller Museum in Jerusalem).
This is a replica of the ancient lyre of Meggido Har, played by King David himself and named after the ancient city of Meggido (aka Armageddon) sit atop a hill in the Jezreel Valley in what is today northern Israel. Careful excavations of 26 layers of debris have revealed that the area has been occupied for about 6000 years, and that the city has been destroyed by wars and natural disasters many times, and then rebuilt.
King David has been depicted by artists as playing an extraordinary variety of instruments including a number of harps of decidedly medieval European design, as well as Greco-Roman lyres (lyres of the Greek god Apollo) that can be seen on the coins of first century Roman-occupied Judea.
Manufactured at the premises of the ancient Europos (Northern Greece) by a family of musicians and luthiers, the “Lyre of Meggido” is made of (and only) natural materials available during the antiquity. This ancient artifact was evolved to become a modern music instrument ready to be used by both amateur and professional musicians (for example, a modern tuning method was chosen instead of the ancient hard-to-use one). For all the minor (but very important) alterations, latest technologies were used during the prototyping phase (such as 3d Scanning and 3d Modeling).
The image appears on one of the famous “Megiddo ivories” that were excavated by archaeologist Gordon Loud, at what are believed to be the remains of a Late Bronze Age royal palace. The illustration is etched onto a sliver of a hippopotamus tooth, and probably adorned the lid of a box or some other decorative item. Since the hippo is found in the waters of the Upper Nile River, in Egypt, this piece shows the enormous range and influence of Egyptian culture throughout the Middle East in that period.
The Late Bronze Age covers a period from roughly 1600 to 1200 B.C. which puts this piece very close to the time of the biblical King David, who is believed to have lived sometime around 1000 B.C. As most people know, according to the Old Testament, David was a musician, singer, and purportedly writer of many of the Psalms. He was said to have played a 10-string lyre (“kinnor” in Hebrew) which is exactly the type of instrument we see in the Megiddo ivory. The figure playing the lyre is dressed in the manner of a Canaanite, not an Egyptian, and is playing an instrument with 10 strings.
This lyre has 10 strings (combination of gut and nylon strings, another set of nylon stings are included too). The soundbox is made by cedar wood shaped to produce rich sound, the arm and the crossbars are made by palisander (type of rosewood) wood, the tailpiece, the tuning keys and the bridge by ebony and maple wood, the sound-board by cedar wood, and the plectrum by wood. The lyre’s height is 59 cm with 62 cm width, while its soundbox dimensions are 31 x 21 x 8 cm.
Along with every lyre, a handbook is provided including all the different ancient Greek scales (for tuning the lyre) in the Aristoxenian tradition such as the Mixolydian, the Phrygian, the Dorian etc. What’s more, the oldest music melodies that had survived are also included such as the Hellenistic “Seikilos Epitaph” (2.000 years old, the oldest known complete melody of the human kind), and further descriptions regarding what modes were used in the antiquity for evoking specific feelings such as sorrow, happiness, bravery etc. Last, a full-color 68-pages book (in the form of a .pdf file) will be given, with more than 100 photos, describing the research behind our lyres and the whole design process.
Since the beginning of 2015, every Luthieros lyre comes with a wooden plectrum, an extra set of nylon strings and a unique hand-strap (in Greek: “τελαμών”). A premium package, for a premium and authentic music instrument! A beautifully handmade premium wooden case for storing and moving around the instrument is also available here.
The lyres available for purchase are very limited. Needles to say that no animals were harmed…
| Learn how to play the ancient Greek lyre!
Michael Levy, the most well-known ancient lyre player around the world, put together for us 11 video lessons (available online at our website). No matter if you are a completely amateur or a professional music player, you can play the lyre following Michael’s steps: http://en.luthieros.com/learn-to-play-the-lyre
| Hear how our ancient lyres sound:
(1) Hear how the “Game of Thrones” theme song would sound like if it was played in Ancient Greece (must-see), hear audio recordinga from various of our lyres, or watch players around the world playing ancient melodies with Luthieros Music Instruments: http://en.luthieros.com/be-inspired-by-players-around-the-world
(2) Check the latest music album by world-known lyre player, Michael Levy, using Luthieros’ Lyre of Apollo! Support his music on iTunes or his website: http://www.ancientlyre.com/
| Check a short presentation of “The Lyre 2.0 Project”:
https://vimeo.com/85653759 (in English)
| Read the extended review of one of our lyres by the most well-known ancient lyre player around the world: http://www.ancientlyre.com/the_lyre_20_project/
* Dozens of music stringed instruments around the world are direct descendants of the ancient Greek lyre: gue (Scotland), rote (England), crwth (Wales), hearpe (Germanic or Anglo-Saxon lyre), giga (Norway), talharpa (Estonia), jouhikko (Finland), knar (Armenia), lutnia (Poland), kinnor (Israel), sarangi (Nepal), sammu or tanbura or zami or zinar (Iraq, Arabian peninsula, Yemen), barbat or ektara (Pakistan), ektara (India and Bangladesh), nares-jux (Siberia), chang (Iran), kissar or tanbura or simsimiyya (Egypt, Sudan), begena or dita or krar (Ethiopia), endongo or ntongoli (Uganda), kibugander or litungu or nyatiti or obokano (Kenya) and litungu (Tanzania).
** Minor alterations might be present in the final instrument (regarding the colour or the kind of wood that was used for smaller parts) that you will receive in comparison with the our website’s images. For this reason, every instrument from the Luthieros team is undoubtedly unique. In case though you want the exact model that was photographed, please state it during the checkout!