A Look Into The Music of Mesopotamia's Oldest Civilization, Sumer

A Look Into The Music of Mesopotamia's Oldest Civilization, Sumer



Did Music Exist in Mesopotamia?



Sumer is one of the most advanced early civilizations out there. This civilization was an early Bronze Age center of government, commerce, common culture, and specialized labor.


The Sumerian civilization had two rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. That led to a chain of development when there was more water which helped grow more food and gave the area a higher ability to keep more people—this formed cities, which eventually led to government.


This stability led to new productive inventions, which helped the masses diversify their work into other measures. It helped bring music as a career. Music became more necessary as a culture of people's built-in groups. Music was art in Sumer, along with literature.




As society became more interested in music, people made instruments using bronze. During the Stone Age, individuals made instruments like flutes out of bones. In the Bronze Age, however, different inducements were made, like bells, harps, wind, wood, and percussion instruments.



Music & Culture of the Sumerian Civilization


Forms of art such as music did exist in the Sumerian civilization. That is very important because Sumer is the oldest civilization, and historians have a record of their type of music. People wrote records using a writing system called Cuneiform, which involved using wedge-like characters. People commonly used this writing system to inscribe literature onto clay tablets.


A photo of Cuneiform


By 4000 BC, the Sumerian society had divided into many cities. They technically had the same culture but were not united by any means.


They grew increasingly divided as each city became centralized around a temple with an individual god.


The city's ruler was the head of the state but a high religious figure too. Hat created a religious society with a rich culture. The rulers of the towns generally hired many musicians in these cities.


Rulers demonstrated the importance of music by employing musicians for various purposes such as the church, wars, diplomatic gifts, courts, and other events throughout the country.



An image of Sumerian land 


Music was also a status symbol in Sumerian cities. The head or king of the city-state controlled many parts of the society, so musicians worked under the king in many parts of society, in the temples, churches, and courts.



These musicians were hired and supervised by the chief musician. The chief musicians had much power in having control of music organizations and operations and even hiring new musicians. These people had a lot of respect and status, which elevated the importance of music in society. 




Instruments Used in Sumerian Music



  • Harps
  • Metal Horns
  • Percussion Instruments
  • Air Phones
  • Idiophones
  • Chordophones
  • Membranophones
  • Lutes
  • Lyres
  • And more



Back to blog