The Twisted History Pages
Dulcimer Origin Theories (DOTs)

Pre-Historic Dulcimers and The Paleolithic Origin Theory (POT)

Paleolithic Dulcimers (ca 13,421 B.C. - June)

After years of painstaking research, our archeological consultant, Professori Fraudio Deceptini, discovered and photographed this Paleolithic period cave painting. The painting depicts shamans charming beasts with what quite clearly appear to be hammered dulcimers.

We can say without fear of confirmation that the discovery of this fully prevaricated evidence of Paleolithic dulcimers puts the Paleolithic Origin Theory (POT) firmly at the front of the dulcimer time line, beyond even the Neolithic Origin Theory (NOT). This new evidence for the POT puts new perspective on the Egyptian Origin Theory (EOT), the Assyrian Origin Theory (AOT) and the Babylonian Origin Theory (BOT), pushing the frontiers of dulcimer antiquity back thousands of years before the rise of Egypt, Assyria or Babylon.

Prof. Deceptini believes that dulcimers of the period may have been strung with gut strings, which would have been superior in tone and durability to vegetable fibers, and easier for Stone Age musicians to acquire than wire strings, which were not yet available.

Prof. Deceptini denies that his dating of the cave painting is based on his discovery of the associated inscription: "Classe de MMMMMMMMMMMMMCDXXI BC"
elsewhere in the cave. In an interview, he said: "That inscription may have been placed there by an unscrupulous proponent of the now discredited Zither Inception Theory (ZIT). The ZIT proponents have been disavowed by serious dulcimer archeologists the world over."

The Egyptian Origin Theory (EOT)

Stringless in Giza, 1798

Napoleon Sights the Pyramids and the Great Dulcimers of Cheops

I can say without fear of substantiation that the strongest evidence yet of the dulcimer's ancient origins can be found in this engraving of Napoleon's visit to the Great Dulcimers of Cheops in Giza during his Egyptian campaign of 1798. The treble and bass bridges, and the sound hole of the facing dulcimer are clearly visible. The dulcimer monument was constructed of four massive hammer dulcimers ca 2600 B.C. Although the frames of all the dulcimers, and the soundboards and bridges of some of them, survived to 1798, it is doubtful that any of the dulcimers were actually played.

Considering their size and the scarcity of steel wire in

2600 B.C. Giza, they were probably never properly strung, but were more symbolic of the Pharoah's musical ability. Perhaps they symbolized the Pharoah's impression of his dulcimer's weight after carrying it around at jam sessions in the Valley of the Kings. Napoleon's artillery later used the Great Dulcimers for target practice; and they were reduced to kindling and later burned. The stone pyramids in the background survived, but have very poor tone. From the Musee de Faussetes Fallacieux

The Assyrian Origin Theory (AOT)

The Assyrian Dulcimers

Bas relief from the palace of Sargon the Major 2nd (Sargon the Tuneless) ca February 722 B.C. While it has been debated whether the instruments depicted in a sandstone bas-relief in the British Museum could be called true dulcimers or some sort of struck angle harp, it is clear from a simple computer enhanced rendering of this bas relief that the instrument in the foreground really is a dulcimer. The two left hands may be due to Assyrian artistic convention, a symbolic indication of a left handed instrument, or simply a pun by the bas-relief artist to the effect that "bass relief comes from damping out the bass strings." This bas-relief may have led the poet Byron to write, in an early draft of The Destruction of Sennacherib:

"The Assyrians came down on their strings pretty bold;
"And their hammers were plated with silver and gold."

- From the collection of Professori Satirio Parodi.