Professor of Archaeomusicology at the University of Bologna



Alexander the Great’s travels and musical encounters:

from Antiquity to the Early Modern Age

Tuesday, May 24, 12:00-14:00 pm,

Auditorium of the Library of the School of Philosophy

Abstract. This lecture presents a research project which examines Alexander the Great’s travels focusing on their musical and anthropological legacy. As is well known, the Macedonian king spent about twelve years travelling – from Spring 334 BC until his death in Summer 323 BC. During that period Alexander crossed many borders – geographical and musical ones, too. The project aims at collecting systematically the documentation of musicians, performances, and musical traditions of ‘other’ peoples he met, as well as examining the functions of musical instruments in different groups and societies, and analysing sound events at different times and in different contexts. Here I’ll present some examples of this documentation, regarding the beginning of the expedition, the march and the encounter with ‘other’ peoples. What I am interested in is primarily the meaning that writers attached to sound and music in giving shape to Alexander’s imagery in different times and places, from Antiquity to the Modern Age. The first part of the talk will focus on some examples from Hellenic and Latin texts, especially chronicles and historical and literary tales concerning Alexander’s deeds.




The Panflute at the University of Padua: a case study in the context of two research projects about ancient musical instruments (RIMAnt and TeMA)

Friday 27 May, 9:00-11:00 am,

Auditorium of the Library of the School of Philosophy

Abstract. A panflute (syrinx/fistula) dating back to the 7th century AD, probably coming from the Faiyum area and now on show at the Museo di Scienze Archeologiche e d’Arte at the University of Padua (Italy), gives us the starting point for presenting two research projects: RIMant and TeMA, which started, respectively, in 2019 at the University of Bologna with a French-Italian team and in 2021 at the University of Padua with an Italian team.


RIMAnt: Repertorium Instrumentorum Musicorum Antiquorum

The RIMAnt project is part of the first axis of the Sound Landscapes and Urban Spaces of the Ancient Mediterranean programme. It aims to list, document and analyse the archaeological remains of musical instruments from the ancient Egyptian, Hellenic and Roman civilisations within a unique corpus accessible online. Despite their importance, both in number and in the quality of the information they can provide, these sound objects have never been the subject of a specific analytical corpus. Scattered in numerous museums (around the Mediterranean, Europe, North America), they are often poorly identified, or even not published due to lack of knowledge.

Musical instruments are important historical witnesses that tell us about religious beliefs (cult objects and votive deposits in sanctuaries and tombs), the status of individuals who practised the profession of musician, but also about their use as a badge of power or social marker. Their manufacture also provides us with information on ancient craftsmanship, the origin of the materials used and their market value. The data collected within RIMAnt will allow researchers to study the instruments both in terms of their organological characteristics and their historical and cultural significance. As the three cultural areas considered have been in contact with each other throughout their history, RIMAnt will contribute to a better understanding of the evolution of the instrumentarium and to a better appreciation of cultural transfers.


TeMA:Testimonianze Musicali del Triveneto (Musical Testimonies of Triveneto)

The aim of the TeMA project is to map and enhance the material musical evidence of the Egyptian, Hellenic and Roman cultural traditions preserved in the museums and collections of the Triveneto region. The tracing of musical instruments and sound objects is followed by a parallel collaboration with the museums, institutions and archaeological superintendencies of the territory, in order to enhance the musical heritage of the peoples of the ancient world represented by the collections examined. The work also aims to make available and accessible the results of the census and cataloguing of the regional cultural heritage programmed over the years by the Superintendencies, with the aim of monitoring the musical heritage on the territory and leading to its rediscovery and enhancement, also through the development of thematic routes and events involving the general public.

The case study presented here is that of one rare, still preserved examples, of ancient panflutes, found in the deposits of the University of Padua, among the materials of the archaeologist Carlo Anti (1889-1961), restored and presented to the public in 2016. Starting from its archaeological data, the panflute will be contextualized by taking iconographic and literary coeval sources into account. This research will enable us to cast light on the different uses and symbolism of this musical instrument which was so widespread in the ancient Mediterranean cultures, but rarely preserved, and suggests a reflection on the ways the most important ancient Mediterranean cultural components – Hellenistic, Roman, Jewish and Christian - interacted, enduring and contaminating each other, or clashed, following different musical practices. Last but not least, the methodological hypothesis of reenacting the sound of the instrument through the use of virtual technologies developed by CSC - Centro di Sonologia Computazionale of the University of Padua will also be presented, as a didactic and methodological tool to extend the results of the scientific activity to a wider audience.