British Museum

The Silver Lyre was excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley from the royal graves of Ur in 1927. The original wood from which the harp was built had disintegrated; the remaining parts, including its silver casing, decorative inlay, frontal plaque, bull’s head, and the silver sheaths on the tuning sticks, however, remained intact. The British Museum restorers reconstructed the lyre by building a new wooden interior structure to fill the intact encasement. Because the dimensions and details are so well-preserved, it was selected as the first model for a working replica on which to play the world’s oldest preserved musical composition.