Archaeologists believe they have unearthed the oldest known music scene in Israeli history. The image is of a rite in a “sacred marriage” ceremony for a Mesopotamian king and a goddess. Depicted on a 5,000-year-old cylinder seal impression, the image dates back to the Early Bronze age and illustrates a wedding banquet with music and dancing, the meeting between the king and the goddess, as well as their sexual union, according to a press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“It seems that the rare seal impression, which appeared on a fragment of a large storage vessel (pithos), sheds light on the symbolic-ritualistic world of the Early Bronze Age inhabitants in Israel,” said Yitzhak Paz, Ianir Milevski, and Nimrod Getzov, the researchers behind the find, in a statement.
The three researchers will present their discovery as part of “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll,” a symposium sponsored by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The seal impression was initially found during an archaeological survey in Western Galilee in the 1970s at the Bet Ha-’Emeq antiquities site.
“This is the first time it is definitely possible to identify a figure playing an instrument on a seal impression from the third millennium B.C.E.,” stated the researchers. “This is when most of the ‘cultic’ impressions from Israel depict dancing figures or the feasting scene in which the female and male figures are shown facing each other, in the rite just before their sexual encounter.”