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2,300-yr-old world's earliest stringed instrument found in cave


April 1, 2012 - London

The remains of what is believed to be the earliest stringed instrument in western Europe have been uncovered in Scotland.

A small burnt and broken piece of carved wood was found during an excavation in a cave on Skye.

According to archaeologists, it is part of the bridge of a lyre, a stringed instrument used in Greek classical era. It is believed to be 2,300 years old.

Music archaeologist Graeme Lawson told the BBC the discovery pushed the history of complex music back more than a thousand years.

The remains, which were unveiled in Edinburgh, were found in High Pasture Cave, where Bronze and Iron Age finds have been made previously.

Cultural historian Purser said the find was exciting because it confirmed the continuity of a love of music amongst the Western Celts.

The small wooden fragment thought to be from a 2,300-year-old lyre was found at an excavation site in High Pasture Cave on the Isle of Skye

He said stringed instruments, which were usually made of wood, rarely survived in the archaeological record, but they were referred to in the very earliest literature.

Steven Birch, an archaeologist involved in the excavation, said deeper sections of the cave were reached using a flight of stone steps.

"Descending the steep and narrow steps, the transition from light to dark transports you out of one world into a completely different realm, where the human senses are accentuated," the Daily Mail quoted Birch as saying.

"Within the cave, sound forms a major component of this transformation, the noise of the underground stream in particular producing a calming environment," he said.

AOC Archaeology in Edinburgh worked on conserving the bridge.

It was among several artefacts recovered from the cave in a project supported Highland Council, Historic Scotland and National Museums of Scotland.

ANI

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