30443 - Music Archaeology

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Donatella Restani

  • Credits 6

  • SSD L-ART/07

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Ravenna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in History, preservation and enhancement of artistic and archaeological heritage and landscape (cod. 9218)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Responsible consumption and production Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

This course focusses on the main events and problems concerning the musical cultures of the ancient world, in particular of the Mediterranean sea. At end of course students acquire the methodological foundations of the discipline and how critically apply to the contextualization of texts, pictures, musical instruments and other sound objects.

Course contents

First part

The general contents of the course cover: the history of the discipline, different typologies of sources, the ways of the transmission of the musical knowledge, the sound events, music and materiality: verbal and visual representation of sound events,  methods and bibliographical tools.

A number of methodological essays will be analysed, chosen as exemplary of the different perspectives in which musical archaeology is considered by archaeologists, philologists, musicologists, ethnomusicologists and anthropologists.

Second part

The sources, context and meaning of the sound events in relation to objects such as stones, the loom, arrows and horse harnesses will be explored.

Timetable: I semester - First lesson: 2020, November 11th, H 1-3 pm, casa Traversari, via s. Vitale 28, Ravenna.


At the end of the course, all the bibliography will be available on the IOL platform, where the specific exam preparation methods are also available, for both attending and non-attending students.

Attending students will receive specific reading indications during lessons and can be followed in individual exercises.

Non-attending students will read all the compulsory bibliography and will add one more free text on the below list.

Compulsory bibliography:

D. Restani, La musica del mondo antico, «La Nuova Secondaria», 9, 2018, pp. 71-73;

E. Hickmann, s.v. «Archaeomusicology», in Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, I, 2001, pp. 848-854.

D. Castaldo, Introduzione all'archeologia musicale, "Il Saggiatore musicale", 22, 2015, pp. 97-109: [https://www.academia.edu/20003408/Archeologia_musicale_dei_Greci_e_dei_Romani_una_breve_introduzione_Saggiatore_Musicale_XXII_2015_1_pp._97-109];

J. Solomon, The reception of ancient Greek music in the late Nineteeth century, Journal International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 29, 2010, pp. 497-525:[https://experts.illinois.edu/en/publications/the-reception-of-ancient-greek-music-in-the-late-nineteenth-centu#]

S. Psaroudakes, Archaeomusicology and Ethnomusicology in Dialogue, "Eulimene", 4, 2003, pp. 189-200;

B. Nettl, Some Questions on the Relationship of Music Archaeology and Ethnomusicology: Informal Comments on Constructing the Past from the Present,, in Studien zur Musikarchäologie IV , hrsg. von E. Hickmann – R. Eichmann, Rahden, Marie Leidorf GmbH, 2004, pp. 117-123.

A. Buckley, Music Archaeology. Its Contribution to “Cultural” Musicology and “Historical” Ethnomusicology , in Studies in Socio-Musical Sciences , edd. J. Braun - V. Shavit, Bar-Ilan University Press, 1998, pp. 109-115.

AA. VV., Antropologia della musica e ricerca storica, in Antropologia della musica e culture mediterranee, a cura di T. Magrini, "Quaderni di Musica e Storia", 1993, pp. 67-85;

The musician's grave, "Greek and Roman Musical Studies", 1, 2013, pp. 7-171: E. Poehlmann, A. A. Alexopolou and A-A. Kaminari, E. Simon and I. Wehgartner, M. West, S. Psaroudakes, C. Terzes, S. Hagel ( http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/22129758/1/1 );

2 papers on the "Musician's tomb", "Greek and Roman Musical Studies", 2, 2014;

L. Godart, Il nome dell'aedo nella Grecia dell'Età del bronzo, "Rendiconti dell'Accademia nazionale dei Lincei, Classe di Scienze Morali, storiche e filologiche", 9, 2001, pp. 5-10;

S. Sarti, Finimenti sonanti, in L. Camin-F. Paolucci (eds), A cavallo del tempo. Catalogo mostra, 2018;[https://www.academia.edu/37281888/Finimenti_sonanti._La_musica_del_cavallo_nellAntichit%C3%A0]

D. Restani, I suoni del telaio. Appunti sull'universo sonoro degli antichi Greci, in Mousike. Metrica ritmica e musica greca in memoria di Giovanni Comotti, a cura di B. Gentili e F. Perusino, Pisa - Roma, Istituti editoriali e poligrafici internazionali, 1995, pp. 93-109;

D. Restani, «Ho udito Memnon»: una pagina (ritrovata) di storia della musica dei Greci, «Musica e Storia», IX, 2001, pp. 377-401.

Students which will not attend to the lessons will be required to study all the proposed bibliography and one of the  following free texts:

F. Berti-D. Restani (eds.), Lo specchio della musica, Bologna, 1988;

Musica, in La Grande Storia: L'Antichità, Grecia, 8, a cura di U. Eco, Encyclomedia - Corriere della Sera, 2011, pp. 360-543; Roma, 13, pp. 278-383.

D. Castaldo, Musiche dell'Italia antica. Introduzione all'archeologia musicale, Bologna, Ante Quem, 2012.

M.L. West, Ancient Greek Music, Oxford, 1992, pp. 1-128, 277-end.

Etnomusicologia storica del mondo antico. Per Roberto Leydi, a cura di D. Restani , Ravenna, Longo, 2006, pp. 1-62.

S.D. Bundrick, Music and Image in Classical Athens, Cambridge, 2005.

D. Castaldo, Il pantheon musicale. Iconografia nella ceramica attica tra VI e IV secolo, Ravenna, Longo, 2000.

D. Restani (a cura di), Musica e mito nella Grecia antica, Bologna, il Mulino, 1995.

Optional reading to know more: T. Lynch and E. Rocconi (edd.), A Companion to Ancient Greek and Roman Music, Hoboke (NJ), Wiley Blackwell, 2020.

Foreign students which will not attend to the lessons will be required to keep in contact with the Professor by email, phone call, office appointment, etc., to chose the examination texts one month before the exams at least.

Teaching methods

Reading and analyses of texts and images. Guided visits to archaelogical collections and temporary exhibitions related to the discipline. Partecipation to seminars and conferences.

Attending students can be trained in individual research projects.

Assessment methods

The exam consists in an interview to assess the student’s critical and methodological skills. Both "Introduction" and the "Special Section" will be considered during the exam. Attending students will introduce their individual research during the last lessons. Each student will be given a source (text or image) to analyze according to the methodological guidelines provided. Particular emphasis will be given to the students ability to manage sources and bibliography in order to obtain the necessary information and to illustrate topics and issues finding connections between them.

The assessment will be based on: knowledge of the subject matter; concept analysis and synthesis; clarity of expression, proper terminology. Students who show proficiency in knowledge and critical perspective, as well as proficiency in expression and technical vocabulary will be granted the highest marks. Students who show they have studied, but in a mnemonic way, and are able of synthesis and analysis expressed adequately, will be granted of medium marks. Students who show basic knowledge, but inadequate vocabulary, will have a pass. Students who show insufficient knowledge, inadequate vocabulary and don't know appropriately the bibliography, will not pass the exam.

Teaching tools

Audiovisuals, pc, films and stereo.

Didactic tools have been prepared for the Introduction of this course: consult them.

Audiovisuals, pc, listening will be used during the lessons.

Individual tutoring may be provided for students attending the lessons.

We remind the possibility for students with DSA to contact the teacher for the activation of adequate support tools provided for the exam

Guided visits to archaelogical collections and temporary exhibitions related to the discipline in the project “Looking at sounds”.

Students can take 2 more CFU attending the Didactic Laboratory of Music Archaeology (MusicArcheoLab).

Responsible: prof. Donatella Restani

Staff: prof. Daniela Castaldo (Università del Salento), dr. Paolo Bonora, dr. Giovanna Casali and dr. Šarūnas Šavėla(Università di Bologna)

Content: The educational project of the Music Archeology Laboratory proposes the realization of scientific projects, of an educational nature, for the enhancement and use of ancient musical goods, mainly preserved in archaeological museums or in the dedicated sections of generalist museums.

Started around 2013, the first census of the musical instruments of Antiquity in the Italian museums (from 6th BC to 7 AD), has concerned above all the museums of the central regions, southern and Sicily. It has allowed to individualize around 50 archaeological finds, particularly boxes of resonance of ancient lyrai constituted by carapaci of turtle, fragments of aulos in bronze, wood, bone and ivory, bells and bronze cymbals, bells, rattles and bones. The results are provisional and I think that an investigation more deepened can allow to go up again to other finds.

In 2020-2021 the activity of the Laboratory will concern the debugging of the Thesaurus of the digital Repertoire of the ancient musical instruments /Repertorium electronicum Instrumentorum Musicorum Antiquorum (RIMAnt).

The Thesaurus, which is modulated on the basis of the Archaeological Finds (RA Thesaurus) and the Musicai Instruments (SM Thesaurus) of the MIBACT, takes into account other Italian experiences, for example: Museum of the sound landscape (https: // museopaesaggiosonoro. org /), and European ones, for example: "Musique et danse de l'Antiquité" (MEDDEA) designed by Sibylle Emerit (CNRS, HiSoMA, Lyon) in the context of the IFAO's activities (see, for example: https: //www.ifao.egnet.net/actus/manifestations/ma682/), concerning the Egyptian area.

Objectives: In the academic year 2020-2021 the activity of the Laboratory will concern in particular the development of the Thesaurus in view of the preparation of the RIMAnt database, which will be managed through HEURIST, "a free, open-source database platform".

The annual objectives will be the following:

- focus on the fields of the Thesaurus for cataloging the instruments;

- comparison with Thesaurus of other relational type databases of similar subjects;

- definition of the Thesaurus' fields and setting up for cataloging the instruments;

- bibliographic searches;

- transfer of data already collected in the prototype form.

Max number of students: 10 

Hours and Calendar:

Monday 16:30-18:30

2021 February 8th, 15th

March 15th

April 19th

Date to be specified: meeting with French colleagues project RIMAnt

Access: send an email to the teacher in charge donatella.restani@unibo.it


Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Donatella Restani