Music History

Another Listen to the Oldest Melody in the World

Music has been around almost as long as homo sapiens. Too bad no one thought to write any of it down so we could hear what our ancestors grooved to back in the day.

Back in the 1950s, a cuneiform tablet unearthed in Syria. After much deliberation, it turned out that the engravings were a sort of musical notation–not the kind we use today (that only came into use about a thousand years ago) but something almost as useful.

Written for a lyre-like stringed instrument about 3,400 years ago, what we have is an ancient guitar tab for a song dedicated to Nikkal, the goddess of orchards. Want a nice harvest of dates? Then woo Nikkal with this hit. The lyrics go something like this:

‘Once I have endeared the deity, she will love me in her heart,
the offer I bring may wholly cover my sin,
bringing sesame oil may work on my behalf in awe may I’

Okay, not exactly “Like a Rolling Stone,” but a good try.

Now let’s put the whole thing together. This just begs for an industrial remix, doesn’t it? (Thanks to Greggory for the link.)


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37874 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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