Ancient Musical Notation on Papyrus

Circa 125 CE
<p>The Michigan Instrumental Papyrus, P. Mich. inv. 1205r.</p>

The Michigan Instrumental Papyrus, P. Mich. inv. 1205r.

The Michigan Instrumental Papyrus, P. Mich. inv. 1205r, is a "Roman era" papyrus containing the sort of musical notation used by instrumental musicians in antiquity, about 125 CE. "The papyrus is a fragment from what was probably a collection of melodies for performance, perhaps intended for the ancient aulos, a woodwind not unlike a modern oboe; or, less likely, the ancient kithara, the performance version of a lyre" (William A. Johnson, Fragments of Ancient Instrumental Music).

♦ When I last visited Prof. Johnson's website, in August 2019, I could hear a mid-rendition by an oboist of how the music might have sounded by clicking any line on the reproduction of the papyrus.

Timeline Themes