Music in Antiquity: The Near East and the Mediterranean.

Author:Eichmann, Ricardo
Position:Book review
 
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Music in Antiquity: The Near East and the Mediterranean. Edited by JOAN GOODNICK WESTENHOLZ; YOSSI MAUREY; and EDWIN SEROUSSI. Yuval, Studies of the Jewish Music Research Center, vol. 8. Berlin: WALTER DE GRUYTER OLDENBURG, 2014. Pp. xi + 375, illus. [euro]112.10.

This volume constitutes the proceedings of the conference "Sounds from the Past: Music in the Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Worlds," which was held in conjunction with the opening of the "Sounds of Ancient Music" exhibition in the Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem (January 2008). It comprises fourteen papers related to Near Eastern (ten) and Mediterranean (four) music, as well as an introduction and epilogue by the editors. The bibliographies consider publications up to 2008. Only a few papers mention works of later date.

Since music was an important cultural technique in ancient societies, it would make much sense to consider the results of music archaeological research in musicological, ethnomusicological, archaeological, and philological studies. However, there has been no general interdisciplinary progress in the field of ancient music from the perspective of musicology. The reasons for this are connected to teaching and research practices, as demonstrated by Yossi Maurey in the epilogue. He points out that "music predating classical Greece is somewhat of a stepchild to musicology" (p. 366). This has to do "with the extremely specialized nature of academic training" (p. 369). It may be the case that some musicologists mainly concerned with historiography are less familiar with ancient languages and cultures, while some archaeologists and philologists have no musicological training. The latter is also affirmed by Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, who states that most Assyriologists "find some of the musicological arguments difficult to digest" (p. 98).

In addition to these problems, ethnomusicology is "primarily concerned with living musical communities" and does not contribute or relate much to the more ancient past" (p. 370). From a music archaeological perspective, however, collaboration between musicologists, ethnomusicologists, archaeologists, and philologists is much closer than it may appear. Today, several music archaeological study groups are continuously organizing music archaeological conferences, workshops, and teaching programs. This is why Yossi Maurey's hopes for a "promising phase of integration" (p. 373) are already reality.

Ann Draffkorn Kilmer gives a short...

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