This cabinet displays various Greek musical percussion instruments, such as zills or finger cymbals, tiny metallic discs that produced sounds when struck against each other. It also displays other instruments, such as the tympanum, a hand drum made out of animal skin stretched around a frame, in the hands of a terracotta figurine.
The earliest explanations for the origin of music were mythical. In this regard, Greece assimilated the religious themed tales from eastern peoples as well as from Egypt or Phoenicia. The Greeks were the first Western people to consider music as an art and to integrate musical skills as a basic part of its citizens’ education. Hence, learning how to play was taught in school. In Greece, the term mousikè referred not only to the art of combining sounds, but also comprised the poetic texts and the dances that accompanied the singing. They didn´t understand the one without the other. Anything related to the muses, the goddesses responsible for having created the arts, was therefore, “musical”. Music probably developed to the same extent as the other arts, but unfortunately no written musical notation has been preserved, with the exception of a few dubiously reconstructed fragments.