In 1972, after 15 years of research Prof. Anne Kilmer (professor of Assyriology, University of California, and a curator at the Lowie Museum of Anthropology at Berkeley) transcribed one of the oldest known pieces of music notation in the world.
Clay tablets relating to music, containing the cuneiform signs of the “Hurrian” language, had been excavated in the early 1950s at the Syrian city of ancient Ugarit in what is now modern Ras Shamra. One text contained a complete hymn, both words and music and is the oldest known preserved music notation in the world.
Prof. Kilmer transcribed this piece of music into modern music notation. Other individuals have also attempted to transcribe this music, with differing interpretations.
The tablets date back to approximately 1400 B.C. and contain a hymn to the moon god’s wife, Nikal. Remarkably, the tablets also contain detailed performance instructions for a singer accompanied by a harpist as well as instructions on how to tune the harp. From this evidence, Prof. Kilmer and other musicologists have created realizations of the