Thursday, May 05, 2011

Further thoughts on the trumpets of Tutankhamun

The Eloquent Peasant (Margaret Maitland)

With photographs and video.

A recent BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Ghost Music’, which I was involved with, resurrected an old recording of even older musical instruments- the 1939 broadcast of trumpets over 3,300 years old, discovered in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian king, Tutankhamun. These instruments are the only two surviving trumpets from ancient Egypt.

The haunting sounds which were produced in the recording have been almost overshadowed by both the infamous story of accidental shattering of the silver trumpet, and the recent theft of the copper or bronze trumpet from the Egyptian Museum and its miraculous recovery.

The shattering of the silver trumpet destroyed hopes of fully understanding its construction, and it was a shock when the one intact trumpet surviving, which could still offer further information to its making, was stolen. Nor had there been the opportunity to undertake scientific analysis of the trumpet’s material; we still do not know its metallic composition and whether it is made of copper or bronze. Thankfully it was found and hopefully will be studied further in the future.

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