Listen to a Performance from the Western World's Oldest Surviving Song

(Photo: National Museum of Denmark)

This is the Seikilos Column. It’s a marble tombstone from the first or second century A.D. A railroad engineer found it 1883 in Tralleis, Turkey. He sliced off the bottom so that his wife could use it as a flower display. Fortunately, the damage did not destroy the essential parts of this archaeological wonder. The Seikilos Column has an inscription of the Greco-Roman world's oldest surviving completely intact song—both the lyrics and the musical notation.

Here are the Greek lyrics in modern English:

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all;
Life exists only a short while
And time demands its toll

It is a timeless sentiment. Along these words, archaeologists found the notes for the song. Below, you can watch a video of ancient musical researcher Michael Levy performing it on a lyre. Or you can go here, scroll down, and listen to a performance of it being both sung and played at the same time.


(Video Link)

-via American Digest


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