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Musical Theory and Cosmology in Ancient Sumer

Friday July 22nd 2005, 8:30 pm

Musical Theory and Cosmology in Ancient Sumer

Some very cool stuff about Sumerian music and worldview –

In ancient Mesopotamia, music, mathematics, art, science, religion, and poetic fantasy were fused. Around 3000 B.C., the Sumerians simultaneously developed cuneiform writing, in which they recorded their pantheon, and a base-60 number system. Their gods were assigned numbers that encoded the primary ratios of music, with the gods’ functions corresponding to their numbers in acoustical theory. Thus the Sumerians created an extensive tonal/arithmetical model for the cosmos. In this far-reaching allegory, the physical world is known by analogy, and the gods give divinity not only to natural forces but also to a “supernatural,” intuitive understanding of mathematical patterns and psychological forces.

Written by Ernest McClain, with some other cool stuff at his website.

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