The Series: The Horn and Trumpet in Ancient Europe and the Middle East

The Horn and Trumpet in Ancient Europe and the Middle East

A series of four books designed to enable you to experience the exciting story of one of the premier group of instruments in the ancient world?

Contents of Book 1: The Horn and Trumpet in Iron Age Europe:

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: Setting the Scene
  • Chapter 2: Naming and Classifying
  • Chapter 3: The Trumpets and Horns of the Amazonian Tukano
  • Chapter 4: Animisation
  • Chapter 5: Complementary Duality and the Brass
  • Chapter 6: The Cumae Frieze: Iron-Age Band or Roman Folly
  • Chapter 7: The Karnyx
  • Chapter 8: The Long Curved Horns
  • Chapter 9: The Native European Short Lituus
  • Chapter 10: The Iberian Iron-Age Brass
  • Chapter 11: Transitions into the Iron Age
  • Chapter 12: Non-metallic Instruments of the Bronze and Iron-Ages
  • Chapter 13: The Post Iron-Age Legacy
  • Chapter 14: The Gallehus Horns
  • Chapter 15: Survivors and Stories
  • Chapter 16: A Last Post
  • Index

The four books in the series and their current status:

Book 1: Horns and Trumpets of the European Iron Age: in publication, available now our shop

Book 2: Horns and Trumpets of the Etruscans, Greeks and Romans: published towards the end of 2022

Book 3: Horns and Bronze Lurs of the Northern European Late Bronze Age: published in the first quarter of 2023

Book 4: Horns and Trumpets of the Pre-metal Ages of Europe and the Middle East: published towards the end of 2023

The Series

Horns and trumpets were an integral part of ancient life and they breathed and spoke to peoples of their time in powerful ways which, to our modern eyes, are indeed mysterious. To understand their reality, this series takes you on journeys back through time, back through technologies and, most importantly, back in ways of thinking about and seeing the world: looking through the eyes of our long-departed ancestors.

We can still see the physical reality of these ancient instruments and, with such a rich pictoral history it does become a vital part of the story and this series as a whole provides you with over 1,000 images of instruments, their structures and their inter-relationships. To supplement this, all the evidence quoted in the text is already on or is in the process of being entered onto this web site. Here you will find a wealth of information for further research and a bank of free-to-use graphic materials for whatever purpose you have in mind.

The intimate ways in which the music was woven into the belief systems of ancient times is so different from those of today as to make the term music something of an impediment to our understanding of those long-past times. It was a voice which brass instruments possessed, sometimes a surragate voice of Gods, nature itself or of the user’s ancestors. Granted, the instruments were also used as signalling instruments, in much they same way as in recent centuries but, even then, they carried with them, echoes of past meanings - as they still do today.

Some individual instruments and some societies have dominated the press and media when it comes to publicity and who can resist the story behind the discovery of the Tutankhamun Trumpets, now on their centenary or who can fail to be impressed by the wonderful Tintignac Karnyces found so recently, or the stories of the Romans and their wayout city of Pompeii?, I can’t. However, while these tales are featured in this series, these are but tips of icebergs and those who are more able to resist the glitz and glamour of the spectacular finds will discover within the volumes that many more intreaguing, exciting and entertaining tales exist eslewhere in the ancient brass-sphere.

If you are a brass musician, you can read here how your instrument has such a prolific and important history, how, at times, it shaped history and how you are carrying on ancient traditions. If you play another instrument, you will be able to question the accounts you read of what part your instrument played in the ancient world and, if so inspired, to investigate its reality for yourself. If you don’t currently blow, beat, scape or rattle and love music of whatever genre, reading of the somewhat unbelievably-powerful roles occupied by horns and trumpets of the past may open your eyes and ears a little to the power of instruments today.

To my ears, as I engage them in the powerful tones of Louis Armstrong, in just a few notes, he takes me to into special place in life. Or on a different plane, the trumpet opening The Great Gates of Kiev (Kyiv) creates its image of great pomp and majesty. The reasons they can do just that is firmly based upon millennia of listening in a way which associates instruments with cultural meanings which persist over time and can still take us soaring above whatever in the modern world we might find humdrum.

The series as a whole covers all periods from the Stone Ages up to the very Early Middle Ages.

There’s no escaping the fact that this is a series unashamedly written for the lover of the brass. It doesn’t matter whether your interest lies in jazz, orchestral, chamber, brass band, wind band, pop, etc. as all these genres share the same history. That’s the history covered in the pages of these books. Please don’t be put off by the fact that I puff away on trumpets because, whether you blow in another way or bang rattle or scape beautiful melodies and rythmns from some other instrument, music of you form is just as deeply embedded in ancient socities as that of the brass.

The pages of these books are numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. but that doesn’t mean that I would expect anyone to read it in that way. I would hope that, for starters, readers, flick their book open to an area that appears of interest andread that Chapter or Section first. To help this process along, I’ve set out to illustrate as many instruments as I can and there’s over a thousand pictures in the four volumes. The limitation of use of images lies in the restrictions imposed by owners of copyrights, thus, many of the illustrations are by my hand. All instrument illustrations which I have created or are in the public domain are, or will be included on this site and are available for you to use subject to you following the requirement to acknowledge their source.

A Preamble and table of Contents for Book 1: Horns and Trumpets of the European Iron Age

As this book is the first to be published in the series, it has a couple of somewhat general and short chapters at the beginning which set the scene for what follows in this and later books. Chapter 3 is another general chapter but one which, in order to look at the idea of ethnographic parallels which are used from time to time, discusses the brass instruments of the Amazonian Tukano tribes.