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5,000-year old seal shows oldest-known musical image found in Israel

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A unique seal impression found half a century ago in the western Galilee bears the oldest-known depiction of music even found in Israel, according to a new interpretation of the find.

Archaeologists now believe the scene shows the musical part of a ritual dating back 5,000 years, of the "sacred marriage" between the Mesopotamian king and a goddess, whose role would have been played by a priestess.

Found in Early Bronze Age ruins in Beit Haemek in the 1970s, the impression was made using a cylinder seal rolled along the surface of clay before it was fired, creating repeating designs. It shows two standing women and one sitting, who is playing a musical instrument that is, apparently, a lyre.

"We identified it as a lyre by searching through artworks and observing the remains of actual lyres found in Mesopotamia," Dr. Yitzhak Paz told Haaretz. As for the identification of the scene as part of the sacred marriage ritual between the king and goddess, while that is an interpretation, it too is based on precedent.

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http://www.haaretz.com/life/archaeology/1.658010

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