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Ancient Jew’s harps found in Altai Mountains as musical instruments reappear after 1,700 years

By Anna Liesowska
09 January 2018

Made from the splintered ribs of cows or horses, one is still capable of making music.

It is good enough to make music some 1,580-to-1,740 years after being manufactured by craftsmen in the Huns-Sarmatian period. Picture here and below: Andrey Borodovsky

The musical finds were made by archeologists at two sites Chultukov Log 9 and Cheremshanka in Altai Republic. 

Three of the Jew’s harps - also called jaw or mouth harps - from the first site were half-finished.

The other two from Cheremshanka were complete, and one is good enough to make music some 1,580-to-1,740 years after being manufactured by craftsmen in the Huns-Sarmatian period. 

5 ancient Jew's harp

The musical finds were made by archeologists at two sites Chultukov Log 9 and Cheremshanka in Altai Republic. 

The acrting harp is 11 centimetres in length, and 8.6 cm wide.

The finds were announced by Professor Andrey Borodovsky, of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, part of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 

Method of harp's making


Method of harp's making


Method of harp's making

Ancient Jew's harp were made of the middle part of the rib splintered into two parts. 

The ancient masters used the middle part of the rib, splintering it into two parts, he said. 

This method differed to Jew’s harp makers in the Tuva region one Siberia, and Mongolia, where long bones were used.

Tests show that the way used by Altai masters is more advanced.

Ancient harp


Ethnographic harp

Ancient Jew's harp found on Cheremshanka and ethnographic harp made by Altaian. 

The tounge/reed of such harps is placed in the performer’s mouth and plucked with the finger to produce the note. 

They are among the world’s most ancient instruments. 

The instrument, despite its name, has no connection with Jews or Judaism.

Cheremshanka settlement (top) and Chultukov Log 9 (bottom). 

Cheremshanka


Chultukov Log 9

Comments (4)

Always thought Jew was some sort of slang. I called it a jaw harp because it made more sense!
Interesting how one thing has nothing to do with the other yet here I am doing just that!.
Anyway, what makes story great is the age of instrument and knowing that more then likely someone used it correctly and played it as it is here today!
Tedd, USA
17/01/2018 07:07
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Actually these type of jew's harps are played by jerking a string not by plucking. The jew's harp that is held in the hand is not playable because it misses the part to hold it, also the string is missing. Also it is not smart (not to say you're an * if someone was) to play it because with that age it is a good solid recipe to destroy it. And then the size 11 by 8,6cm? not 110 by 8,6mm? I sure like to see the reports of this dig who can I contact over this?
Harm J. Linsen, Heesch/the Netherlands
14/01/2018 07:15
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The acrting harp is 11 centimetres in length, and 8.6 cm wide.——What the structure is?I can't imagine that from the remains.
姚剑申, 巨鹿/中国
10/01/2018 14:39
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口簧琴,此前许多报告将其命名为织布梭或骨质乐器。该类器物现今已出土10余件,材质为竹质或骨质。其年代为晚铜早铁时期,最早案例见于夏家店上层文化。年代最晚者出土于后匈奴时期的塔施提克文化(石膏覆面狂魔)的萨克撒墓葬。。该类器物常见于欧亚草原东端的图瓦地区、米努辛斯克盆地、蒙古高原、北方长城地带。图尔巴特先生认为,匈奴部落的迁徙与丝绸之路上诸族群的互动为该器物的传播提供了前提。
刘騻, China
10/01/2018 14:34
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1
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