Skye cave find western Europe's 'earliest string instrument'
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Posted 31 March 2012 - 10:35 AM
Archaeologists believe they have uncovered the remains of the earliest stringed instrument to be found so far in western Europe. The small burnt and broken piece of carved piece of wood was found during an excavation in a cave on Skye. Archaeologists said it was likely to be part of the bridge of a lyre dating to more than 2,300 years ago.
Music archaeologist Dr Graeme Lawson said the discovery marked a "step change" in music history. The Cambridge-based expert said: "It pushes the history of complex music back more than a thousand years, into our darkest pre-history.
"And not only the history of music but more specifically of song and poetry, because that's what such instruments were very often used for. "The earliest known lyres date from about 5,000 years ago, in what is now Iraq, and these were already complicated and finely-made structures. "But here in Europe even Roman traces proved hard to locate. Pictures, maybe, but no actual remains."
The remains, which were unveiled in Edinburgh, were found in High Pasture Cave, where Bronze and Iron Age finds have been made previously.
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