The World’s Oldest Melody Is Surprisingly Soothing

“Music, being the expression of emotion through sound, probably even predates even our use of language”

Music has been a part of the human experience for a very, very long time. While it’s difficult to know how old music really is, it’s unquestionable that it has played an immensely important role in our evolution and our history.

Written music, however, is actually fairly young. The world's oldest known song dates back about 3,500 years and was inscribed on tablets found in the 1950s in what is now modern Syria.

The tablets had markings called cuneiform signs, a form of musical notation in the Hurrian language. Only one tablet (known as H6) of the 29 was in acceptable condition and was able to be translated and later played by curious musicians.

A few years ago, musician Michael Levy attempted to play the music from the ancient tablet on a lyre, one of the oldest known instruments. recently interviewed him about the recording. He said:

“H6 is the oldest substantial fragment (almost complete) of an actual melody, so far discovered in history. Naturally, music, being the expression of emotion through sound, probably even predates even our use of language, but up until this piece of music was actually discovered, no other written melodies from this period and before were ever found.”

The song, a hymn to Nikkal, a Semitic goddess of orchards, is surprisingly modern and melodic. The tablet even included instructions on how to play it and how to tune the instrument. Listen for yourself below:


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