Lyre

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Definition

The lyre was a stringed musical instrument played by the ancient Greeks. It was probably the most important and well-known instrument in the Greek world. The lyre was closely related to the other stringed instruments: the chelys which was made from a tortoise shell, the four-stringed phorminx, and the seven-stringed kithara. Apollo and Orpheus were the most famous lyre players.

More about: Lyre

Timeline

  • 2000 BCE
    The first examples of the lyre in the Bronze Age Aegean occur in the Cyclades and on Minoan Crete.
  • 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.
  • 600 BCE - 550 BCE
    The silver stater coin of Calymna in Caria depicts a tortoise shell lyre on its reverse side.
  • c. 550 BCE
    The silver drachma of Delos depicts a lyre - symbolic of Apollo - on its reverse side.
  • c. 100 BCE
    Coins of Kos and Thespiai depict a lyre on their reverse side.
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