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Dueling Hurrian Hymns

Ever wonder what kind of music filled the throne rooms and banquet halls of the Biblical world? What were the melodies that were played for the Canaanite kings of Megiddo and Hazor as they entertained their courts with stories from the battlefield?

HurianHymnA cuneiform tablet discovered in the 1950s at the Canaanite coastal city of Ugarit revealed one of the oldest musical compositions ever found, dating back more than 3,400 years. With cuneiform notations analogous to “sheet music,” the tablet records instructions for playing an ancient hymn to the Hurrian goddess Nikkal, the wife of the moon god. 

Version 1 of Hurrian Hymn

The Hurrians were one of the dominant peoples of Bronze Age Syria and their myths and traditions had a tremendous influence on Canaanite society and culture.

Version 2 of Hurrian Hymn

Musically-inclined scholars of the ancient world have offered a number of interpretations of what the hymn to Nikkal sounded like, some more speculative than others.

Source: Biblical Archaeology Review [January 20, 2011]


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