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Listen to this ancient hymn: Recreated for first time since 1400 BC!

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7/15/2016 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (

The Hymn for Nikkal was played for the first time in thousands of years.

For the first time in about 3,500 years, an ancient hymn was recreated from a clay tablet, making it the oldest hymn currently known to man.

The clay tablet with the hymn is the only one of 29 still legible (Michael Levy/YouTube).

The clay tablet with the hymn is the only one of 29 still legible (Michael Levy/YouTube).


Catholic Online (
7/15/2016 (3 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Hymn for Nikkal, ancient, listen, clay tablets

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the New Historian, the hymn dates back to the Bronze age and is dedicated to the Akkadian goddess Nikkal.

The hymn was discovered on one of 29 clay tablets unearthed in the 1950s and was the single legible relic.

Nikkal was once believed to be the goddess of orchards and her name means "Great Lady and Fruitful," or "Goddess of Fruit."

Ancient Akkadians and Sumerians once worshiped her, though the Sumerians knew her as Ningal.

The hymn was recreated and released for the first time on YouTube by musician and composer Michael Levy.

According to Daily Mail, Levy focuses on researching and recreating ancient lyre-playing techniques.

He claimed his musical mission was to "reintroduce the beautiful lyres of antiquity back into the bland and soulless modern 'musical' world."

Levy shared: "Over the last few years, I have recorded several of my own arrangements for solo lyre of the Hurrian Hymn," also known as the Hymn for Nikkal.

Professor Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, who is currently a professor of Assyriology at the University of California and a curator at the Lowie Museum of Anthropology at Berkeley, developed one interpretation of the hymn in 1972.

"We are able to match the number of syllables in the text of the song with the number of notes indicated by the musical notations," Kilmer explained.

By choosing this method, harmonies, rather than a melody, is created.

She admitted the bottom of the tablet contained syllables matching the notation numbers above, which had to have been intentional.

The top of the tablet contained words and the bottom was how to play the accompanying music, which was later transcribed from the tablet by Dr. Richard Dumbrill, an expert in the archaeomusicology of the Ancient Near and Middle East."

He explained, "All these texts were written in the Hurrian language, and they all date about 1,400 BC."

Levy described the expression of emotion through music likely predates the use of language, though the words accompanying the notes of the world's oldest hymn proves otherwise.

Each of the 29 tablets can be found on display at The National Museum in Damascus.


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