MURSILI I

(reigned C. 1620–1590 B.C.)
   Hittite king who greatly enlarged the power base of the Hittite kingdom by his campaigns in northern Syria, where he captured the city of Aleppo. He also fought against the Hurrians. His most famous exploit was the surprise attack on the city of Babylon, which brought the First Dynasty of Babylon to an end. MUSIC. While the sound and tunes of ancient music are irrevocably lost and few actual instruments survive, depictions of musicians on cylindersealsand in art, as well as textual references, including lexical lists, prove that the making of music played an important part in Mesopotamian culture. Among the fabulous grave goods discovered in the “Royal Graves” at Urwere beautifully worked stringed instruments, such as harps and lyres, made of wood, silver, and gold, usually with eight strings, vertical or horizontal. Visual representations show a variety of percussion instruments, from rattles and cymbals to various hand-held or mounted drums of different shapes and sizes. Woodwind instruments, especially flutes, were popular, and were fashioned from wood, bone, pottery, and silver. Ritual texts also make reference to large kettle drums, and how to consecrate them. Songs and poems in praise of Mesopotamian temples refer to them “bellowing” and to the stirring sounds of drums, trumpets, and horns.
   Music making at the palace, accompanied by dancing, was part of courtly life, alluded to in the royal hymns of the Third Dynasty of Ur, for instance. In the lives of ordinary citizens, singing, dancing, and the playing of simple instruments enlivened marriage feasts and other celebrations, as told in the Gilgamesh Epic and other literary texts, and were part of the entertainment provided in taverns and ale houses. The rousing beat of drums and the blast of trumpets accompanied troops going into battle, as depicted on the reliefs in Assyrian palaces.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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