Jew’s harps from the Bronze Age!

I have now travelled for some days in the Northern parts of China. In Chifeng (Inner Mongolia) we could not find the jew’s harp we were searching for. Today we suceeded more, at the City Museum of Chaoyang (Liaoning), were we saw two well preserved jew’s harps from the Bronze Age, from the earliest phase of the Xiajiadian culture. They were made of thin, delicate pieces of bone, more than three thousand years ago, perhaps even more than four thousand. The museum dates them to the period from 2146 to 1029 BC. They are definitely the earliest jew’s harps ever found. Next week I will get more information about the objects and the archaeological context. My deepest thanks go to Prof. Fang Jianjun, Tianjin Conservatory of Music who informed me about these finds. I am also thankful to my great travel companions Mao and Shelly. Without their kind assistance it would not be easy for a foreigner like me to travel here, far from the tourist tracks.

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 April 19, 2015 at 07:50

    Hadde vært interessant om du kunne presentert noe om bronseladermunnharper i “Munnharpa” – har du muligheter?
    MVH Bernhard

    • Gjermund Kolltveit on April 20, 2015 at 04:25

      Skal skrive noe så fort jeg kan, dvs etter jeg og min kinesiske kollega har skrevet noe på engelsk. Jeg må i hvert fall vente med å publisere bildene. Men en notis el liten sak er ok nå.

Leave a Comment

New publication: The Archaeology of Sound, Acoustics and Music

April 27, 2020

Cajsa S. Lund has been a pioneer and a central voice in the interdisciplinary field of…

Samuel Hellen’s songs: Comprehensive music project finished

November 23, 2019

For some years I have been involved in a fascinating and rewarding music project that…

Video interview and improvisations

September 19, 2019

I Novgorod, during the  Slovisha festival in August my jew’s harp fellow reseacher Aksenti Beskrovny…

Impressions from the festival Slovisha in Novgorod

September 1, 2019

Back from Veliky Novgorod I am full of impressions after the Slovisha Musical Antiquities Festival,…

Norwegian lyres!

May 16, 2019

Here is a glimpse into my pratical work with lyres. This winter I have worked…