Bronze lurs revisited

The magnificent lurs of the Scandinavian Bronze Age have got a lot of attention from archaeologists as well as musicologists, since their discovery in the end of the 18th century and onwards. My contribution to this research tradition is the article “The Ritual Significance of the Scandinavian Bronze Age Lurs: An Examination Based on Ethnographic Analogies”, which is now in print. It will be published in the volume Music and Ritual – Bridging Material and Living Cultures, by the Berlin-based Ekho Verlag. A PDF of the article will soon be available from the publisher.

Here is the abstract of the article:

The horns of the Scandinavian Bronze Age—the so called bronze lurs—were originally deposited in pairs as sacrifices, most of them in wetlands. It is commonly accepted that these instruments were used for ritual and cultic purposes. Based on the archaeological contexts of the finds, iconographical sources, and analogies drawn from different instrument traditions, the article discusses and re-examines the ritual significance of the bronze lurs and their sound. It also analyses the utility value of analogy, and discusses the meaning and usability of the concept of ritual, in connection with religion, performance and music. Other lip-vibrated aerophones from several continents might in various ways provide some parallels to bronze lurs. From archaeological sources the lurs could be compared to the bronze horns of Ireland. Other European ancient trumpets are less relevant analogies, but still important as comparative material. One plausible interpretation of the ritual use of bronze lurs is that they were part of calendar celebrations that worshipped the sun, and thus ensured cyclical renewal, continuity and cosmological order.

Gjermund Kolltveit

Music archaeologist, ethnomusicologist, musician – Nesodden, Norway. Main research interests: sound and sound tools (e.g. jew’s harps, lyres, ringing stones, bells) in human culture and soundscapes.


  1. Bernhard Folkestad on December 9, 2013 at 17:23

    Her var det mykje artig og interessant å lese – fin utforming av nettstadbunaden!

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