The fruits of the painstaking process of recreating the Homeric ancient Greek instruments over a period of 20 years, will be made accessible to the public this month.
The Museum of Ancient Nikopolis outside Preveza, in western Greece, will host the artwork of former jeweller Giorgos Polyzos in an exclusive exhibition that will run until 20 November.
Since 1979, Polyzos, who has been collecting information from museum exhibits, archaeological finds, depictions in sculpture and pottery combined with narrative included in ancient myths, has created 17 handmade exact replicas of ancient Greek musical instruments.
The replicas which include organs such as the lyre, the homeric phorminx, the kithara, the pandouri and the aulos have been recreated based on information spanning from the 8th to the 3rd centuries B.C.
Speaking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) in his workshop based in the tiny village of Tsopella Pramanta, the artist said that it was an exhibition in the Archaeological Museum of Athens about music in ancient Greece back in 1979 that sparked his interest even though he is a jewellery maker.
“When, in 1983, my friend the poet, writer and journalist Giorgos Maniatis sent me a text on the relationship between politics and music, this served as an occasion to make a faithful copy of a lyre to offer to him in return. He played it and showed it to his students,” Polyzos told ANA-MPA, explaining how he felt seeing students greet him by playing the lyre when he later visited Athens from Serres.
“I’m excited, I told them, I’ll make you another old musical instrument, a tortoise turtle pandouri.”
Polyzos was approached by archaeology professors and manufactured the instruments between 1984 and 2004 for the Athens University student society ‘Evretirio’.
“Then harp was unearthed in Dafni, Athens, and I studied it and copied it,” he continued stressing that he never stopped observing and seeking information.
“The Homeric hymn to Hermes is what helped me make the first lyre… the hymn was a set of instructions, in verse, on how to make a lyre before the invention of writing, obviously repeated as a song. It is a dactylic hexameter, like the Epics,” he said adding that “the lyre was a very simple organ that anyone with a certain dexterity could make and was mainly used as a learning instrument, to teach children music”.
Also featured in the exhibition is the seven-stringed phorminx, which later evolved into the kithara; a valuable instrument played at court made of gold, silver, ebony and ivory, while the “instrument of the poets” was the barbitos, which had longer strings and a deeper tone than the lyre.
The exhibition, also features relevant findings artifacts and information that can guide audiences through the history, evolution, characteristics and circumstances of the performance of ancient Greek musical instruments, different aspects of the role of music in the world of mortals and immortals, while it contests the reality the behind antiquity’s most popular myths.