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

  • Course Timetable from Nov 09, 2021 to Dec 15, 2021


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

Quality education Gender equality Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

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.

At last, particular attention will be paid to the phenomena of circulation, contamination and hybridisation of musical instruments and musical practices in the different musical cultures of the ancient Mediterranean. Last but not least, the phenomenon of the globalisation of the ancient world from a musicological perspective will be reflected upon.

Second part

Students will be guided to recognise and investigate the presence of sound events and their meaning in Greek and Latin texts of musical interest, from the 1st BC to the 3 DC, choosing an example of a significant text in the history of ancient art and archaeology from the following list:

Vitruvius, De architectura;

Lucian, any text with sound events: e.g., Imagines; De saltatione; etc.

Philostratus, Imagines, or Heroicus;

Pausanias, Periegesis of Ancient Greece: texts are on Virtual;

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, book IV or XIV.

For the students attending to the lessons, the oral examination will begin from this textual research project.



Firts part

E. Rocconi (ed. by), I suoni perduti. Musica ed eventi sonori in Grecia e a Roma, Milano, 2013.

D. Castaldo, Introduzione all'archeologia musicale, "Il Saggiatore musicale", 22, 2015, pp. 97-109.

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

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

A case study: the Piraeus musician tomb

E. Poehlmann, Excavation, Dating and Content of Two Tombs in Daphne, Odos Olgas 53, Athens,"Greek and Roman Musical Studies", 1, 2013, pp. 7-24;

S. Psaroudakes, The Daphnē Aulos, "Greek and Roman Musical Studies", 1, 2013, pp. 93-121

C. Terzes, The Daphnē Harp, "Greek and Roman Musical Studies", 1, 2013, pp. 123-149.

E. Lygouri-Tolia,Two Burials of 430 B.C. in Daphne, Athens: Their Topography, and the Profession of the So-Called ‘Poet’ in Tomb 2, "Greek and Roman Musical Studies", 2, 2014, pp. 3-22:

A. Kokkoliou, A Classical Athenian Grave (No 48, 470–50 BC) and Its Content from the Area between the So-Called ‘Ēriai’ Gate and the Dipylon. The Archaeological Context, "Greek and Roman Musical Studies", pp. 279-309.

A. A. Alexopolou and A-A. Kaminari, Multispectral Imaging Documentation of the Findings of Tomb I and II at Daphne,"Greek and Roman Musical Studies", 1, 2013, pp. 25-60.

M. West, The Writing Tablets and Papyrus from Tomb II in Daphni,"Greek and Roman Musical Studies", 1, 2013, pp. 73-92.

At the end of the course, all the course materials will be available on the Virtuale platform, where you will also find specific exam preparation methods for both attending and non-attending students.

Attending students will receive specific reading instructions during the course and will be supported in their individual practice.

Non-attending students are not required to do the exercise, but they will read all the bibliography indicated above and will integrate it with two complementary readings chosen from the following:
D. Castaldo, Musiche dell'Italia antica. Introduzione all'archeologia musicale, Bologna, Ante Quem, 2012.

M.L. West, Ancient Greek Music, Oxford, 1992, anche in traduzione italiana, Milella, Lecce, 2007, pp. 1-128, 277-fine.

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. Restani (ed. by), Musica e mito nella Grecia antica, Bologna, il Mulino, 1995.

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

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.

To take up the challenge of Education for Sustainable Development (ESS), methods that stimulate skills through active learning will be favored. Therefore, the student will be put in contact with different research strategies which imply interdisciplinary knowledge

Assessment methods

The exam consists in an interview to assess the student’s critical and methodological skills. Both "First Part" and the "Second Part" will be considered during the exam. Attending students will introduce their individual research during the exam. Each student will choose a source (text) 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.

During the year there is the possibility of meetings, seminar lectures with professors from foreign universities and guided visits to museums or archaeological collections with musical instruments and iconography as part of the "Vedere i Suoni" project.

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

Students can take 2 more CFU attending the DIDACTIC LABORATORY OF MUSIC ARCHAEOLOGY (MusicArcheoLab).

Responsible: prof. Donatella Restani, in collaboration with prof. Daniela Castaldo (Università del Salento), PhD Paolo Bonora, PhD Giovanna Casali.

Content: The didactic project of the MusicArcheoLab proposes the realisation of scientific projects, of an educational nature, for the valorisation and fruition of musical heritage of ancient times, mainly preserved in museums of various types: archaeological, of musical instruments or generalist. 

This year's activities will concern the implementation of the database "Repertorium Instrumentorum Musicorum Antiquorum (RIMAnt) / Repertoire of ancient musical instruments", on the Heurist platform, "a free, open-source database platform", set up at the CNRS in Strarsbourg, through the RIMAnt sheet.

The RIMAnt sheet, modulated on the basis of the sheets on Archaeological finds (RA sheet) and Musical instruments (SM sheet) of MIBACT, takes into account other Italian experiences, e.g.: Museo del paesaggio sonoro (https://museopaesaggiosonoro.org/ ), and European experiences, e.g.: "Musique et de danse de l'été" (Museum of the Soundscape). Musique et danse de l'Antiquité" (MEDDEA) designed by Sibylle Emerit (CNRS, HiSoMA, Lyon) within the activities of IFAO (see, for example: https://www.ifao.egnet.net/actus/manifestations /ma682/), concerning the Egyptian environment.

So far, about fifty artefacts have been identified from the first census of ancient musical instruments in Italian museums, launched in 2013, which covered a sample of museums in the central and southern regions and Sicily. 

These have been joined by around a hundred others, thanks to the TeMA project: Testimonianze Musicali dell'Antichità in Triveneto, a project of the Department of Cultural Heritage of the University of Padua, by Professor Paola Dessì. At the moment, the results are provisional and it is thought that a more in-depth investigation will enable other finds to be traced. In particular, the following have been catalogued so far: bronze bells and cymbals, terracotta and bone rattles, fragments of wind instruments made of bronze, wood, bone and ivory, and a few tortoise shells, used as sounding boards for stringed instruments.

The annual objectives of the Laboratory will be:

- a reflection on the need to take into account a hitherto unrecognised musical heritage for musicology and archaeology, but also for other cultural heritage studies;

- a reflection on the problems related to the terminology of instruments and their classification;

- a reflection on the fields of the RIMAnt card for instrument cataloguing;

- the knowledge of Zotero and (eventual) cleaning of the collected thematic bibliography;

- the use of the Heurist-based catalogue, data entry and functional verification;

- the data entry into database and functional verification.

Max number of students: 10

Running period: February, March, April, May 2022

Laboratory teaching: there will be at least 3 meetings (one per month) of 2 hours each and a final seminar, for a total of 8/10 hours. The dates will be communicated by December.

How to access: send an email to: donatella.restani@unibo.it

Venue: to be decided; possible online and in presence teaching.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Donatella Restani