Courtesy Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums

A triumphal procession and a banquet are pictured in sequence (reading from right to left) on this engraved ivory from Megiddo, which measures about 10 inches (27 cm) long, and dates to around 1,180 B.C. The musician playing the lyre is probably the royal minstrel singing of his patron’s victory. The lyre is asymmetrical and depicted quite precisely with nine strings. Lyres are sounded with the right hand and fingered with the left, like stringed instruments everywhere. In this procession the player had to be placed with his left side in view. Thus we see the back of his instrument. A front view of such an instrument would show the strings continuing over the face of the soundbox so as to activate resonance. Replicas have been built of the Megiddo instrument but the strings do not pass over the soundbox; the resulting sounds lack resonance and are only weak rustlings.

The winged cherub on the ruler’s throne resembles the cherub on the horn from Ugarit.