Ancient Greek Music


Music (or mousike) was an integral part of life in the ancient Greek world, and the term covered not only music but also dance, lyrics, and the performance of poetry. A wide range of instruments was used to perform music which was played on all manner of occasions such as religious ceremonies, festivals, private drinking parties (symposia), weddings, funerals, and during athletic and military activities. Music was also an important element of education and Greek drama performances held in theatres such as plays, recitals, and competitions.

More about: Ancient Greek Music


  • c. 5000 BCE
    The first aulos musical instruments are carved from bone.
  • 2700 BCE - 2300 BCE
    The first depiction in art of the aulos musical instrument appears in Cycladic sculpture.
  • 2000 BCE
    The first examples of the lyre in the Bronze Age Aegean occur in the Cyclades and on Minoan Crete.
  • 1500 BCE - 1450 BCE
    The 'Harvester Vase' of Minoan origin depicts a sistrum player.
  • 1420 BCE - 1300 BCE
    Clay dancing figures including a rare female lyre player are made in Minoan Palaikastro.
  • c. 1400 BCE
    Lyres across the Aegean assume S-shaped arms and become more decoratively carved, most often with sculpted birds.
  • 1250 BCE - 1200 BCE
    A Linear B tablet from Greek Thebes mentions lyre players as members of the royal palace staff.
  • 700 BCE
    The study of music theory begins in ancient Greece.
  • c. 700 BCE
    Sparta, Argos and Paros hold the first documented musical competitions in Greece.
  • c. 550 BCE
    The silver drachma of Delos depicts a lyre - symbolic of Apollo - on its reverse side.
  • 548 BCE - 544 BCE
    Birth of Greek lyric poet Lasus of Hermione.
  • c. 400 BCE
    Theban musicians invent a more sophisticated aulos with metal keys.
  • c. 350 BCE
    Aristoxenos writes his theory of music treatise 'Harmonic Elements'.
  • 328 BCE
    Herodoros of Megara wins the first of ten consecutive trumpet competitions at the Olympic Games.
  • c. 100 BCE
    Coins of Kos and Thespiai depict a lyre on their reverse side.