[from a private correspondence to Jacky Ligon]
So far, no tablets dating back to the Sumerian period have been discovered which have been proven to concern music. Everything we have dates from the later Babylonian period.
Scholars, including myself, all assume that Babylonian tuning is the same as Sumerian, just because everything else the Babylonians wrote about was lifted pretty much directly from the Sumerians. The Babylonians conquered them around 2000 BC, and at that point Sumer ceased to exist as a cultural entity, and Sumerian became a 'dead' language.
However, the Sumerian language, math, astronomy, medicine, laws, etc. etc. etc., were all propogated by the Babylonians, with much use of Sumerian 'logograms', which are one-character signs that indicate important concepts, and which were spoken with sounds from the Babylonian language (Akkadian) by that time; similar to the 'Arabic' numerals used by all the different European languages.
As far as the scales go, well... it looks pretty much like it's a 12-tone Pythagorean tuning, so there's nothing much 'new' there. (Of course, the Sumerians *were* the first to record it, if it is Pythagorean, and I think it probably is.)
But I think there's a possibility that they actually may have even discovered 12-tET at that early date! And I've recently purchased some books by Ernest McClain which explore the possibility that the ancient Greeks invented 12-tET - haven't read them yet, but I did notice that. McClain himself traces the transmission of much Babylonian mythology and music-theory to the Greeks, via Pythagoras. So if the Greeks really did have a working knowledge of 12-tET, it strengthens my supposition that the Babylonians, or more likely the Sumerians before them, invented it.
(I say 'more likely' because in *every* case the Babylonian civilization was a regression from the 'higher' culture of the Sumerians who came before them, and on which their own culture was based.)
And also, there's another scholar who thinks he has reconstructed the original alphabet - the Hebrews and other Semites related to them were apparently the first to use writing alphabetically c. 1700 BC - and the actual 10 Commandments as they appeared on Moses's tablets, *and* he also thinks that this reconstruction proves that the Hebrews knew a 12-tone tuning which has mostly 5-limit JI ratios but in some places is not far off from 12-tET!
All this and more will be upcoming later this year in new webpages. I've been doing A LOT of research into Sumerian mythology and astronomy, and the Bible. It's quite clear to me that much of 'Genesis' is simply an abridged and simplified form of earlier Sumerian mythology. In fact, some scholars (and me) believe that the Sumerians dispersed widely over the world after they were conquered, in the world's first great diaspora. I even speculate that the Jews themselves were actually the remnants of Sumer. It's recorded in the Bible that Abraham came from Ur (in Sumer).
Also, interestingly, the date of the appearance of the earliest alphabetic writing among the Hebrews is *right after* the conquest of Sumer. Don't forget that the Sumerians are the ones who invented writing in the first place, around 3200 BC.
Well, I explained so much to you here that you shouldn't be surprised if this email turns up pretty much verbatim in one of my Sumerian webpages!
Linda says hello. Bye for now.
Joseph L. Monzo San Diego email@example.com
| 'I had broken thru the lattice barrier...' |
| -Erv Wilson |
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