What's the oldest song you love


The oldest known song in the world dates back 3500 years and was found in Syria. It's a hymn to Nikkal, Goddess of orchards and harvests. Music has been around for ages but this is the oldest notation. Research has managed to decipher it and enables us to hear the music today. YouTube link below

People have been making music for a long time, as shown by a 42,000-year-old flute made of swan bones that was found in the Swabian town of Blaubeuren. But the idea and the ability to perpetuate music through notation - we have to disappoint the Swabians there - has been proven for the first time in the region of today's Syria. You can not have everything. But honestly, is there currently a country that is more indulgent? Do not ask us what we think of the situation there, we are at the end of our wisdom. What we did find out, however, is that the hymn to Nikkal, a goddess of harvest and orchards, is 3500 years old and was immortalized in the form of cuneiform on clay tablets. These tablets were found in excavations in the Bronze Age royal palace of Ugarit in the 1950s. The site is located near the present-day Syrian Mediterranean port of Latakia. It took decades for someone to decipher the music boards. The text of the song is in Hurrian, the music notation in Akkadian. The music is for a nine-string lyre, the mood of which is also indicated on the boards. However, the rhythm and speed of the song are not evident from the clay tablets. The following is a performance on YouTube with only the music, without the text, because the melody of the singing is not recorded separately either. Not to be ruled out entirely, we estimate that the singing followed the melody of the lyre. The following text is a free translation by us, based on two different English translations, at best a vague approximation of the original text. As far as we know, the name of the goddess is pronounced something like Nee-KAL. The ‘silver sword’ in the song could refer to Nikkal being the wife of the moon god Yarikh

Hymn to Nikkal

For those who pay homage to you, two loaves in the bowl
You made sacrifices to heaven
for their integrity and happiness
At the symbol of the silver sword
on the right side of your throne I have sacrificed
I will make up for the sins without hiding them
You love those who come to you to be reconciled
I have come to bring her to you and leave reconciled
It is Nikkal that will empower you
She lets married couples have children
lets the children be born to their parents


Radio documentation The BBC program ‘The Oldest Song in the World’ (2021) about the deciphering of the 3500 year old Hurrian hymns. With the musicologist Richard Dumbrill

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