In what country did stringed instruments originate?

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It's hard to know who the first person to have the idea to stretch some cat guts over a piece of wood and start plucking at them was, but an educated guess would be that he or she lived in Mesapotamia, which is now modern day Iraq.

The area where the Euphrates and Tigris river meet is home to the first known civilisation in the world, and is also where the oldest example of a stringed instrument was found by archaeologists.

In 1929, Leonard Woolley led a team who unearthed three instruments we now refer to as the "Lyres of Ur" . Dating back roughly 4500 years, these are the oldest string instruments ever discovered.

The theory is that early harps and lyres would have been inspired by the plucking sound of a hunter's bow, and it is highly likely that the ones discovered at Ur (an important ancient Sumerian city-state) had evolved from a far more rudimentary model.

Since the days of ancient Sumer, lyres and harps have played an important part in the culture of many civilisations: From the ancient Egyptians through to the European middle ages - and are the ancestors of the "Stratocasters" and "Les Pauls" which modern rock musicians use today.

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