Ancient Melodies: The 10 Oldest Songs Ever Recorded

Published on March 24, 2024

Credit: Denny Müller

Music is one of the most ancient human arts. Like echoes from the past, ancient melodies can still convey the emotions, beliefs, and cultures of our ancestors.

From religious hymns to music of celebration, we gathered some of the 10 oldest songs ever recorded in human history (so far). Join us and listen to the enchanting music of past times!


Sumer Is Icumen In

Credit: Dakota Roos

Date composed: 13th Century C.E.

"Sumer Is Icumen In," often translated as "Summer has arrived," is one of the earliest examples of a _round_in Western music (a type of canon for at least three voices). Believed to have originated in the 13th century in England, this lively song celebrates the arrival of summer with its cheerful melody and lyrics. Amusingly, the song also exhibits one of the oldest recorded uses of the word "fart."


Jieshi Diao Youlan

Credit: John Wiesenfeld

Date composed: 6th Century C.E.

Jieshi Diao Youlan, often translated as "Solitary Orchid," is possibly the oldest surviving piece of written music from East Asia. The ancient Chinese melody dates back to the 6th century C.E., and it was originally composed for the guqin, a traditional seven-string musical instrument. The melody is renowned for its nuances, particularly in the form of microtones - in music terms, intervals that are smaller than a semitone. A curious effect of this technique is that it makes the melody sound almost modern to contemporary listeners.


Te Deum

Credit: Denny Müller

Date composed: 4th Century C.E.

The "Te Deum" is a Christian hymn of praise dating back to the 4th century C.E. Traditionally attributed to Saints Ambrose and Augustine, it is still sung in churches around the world. The name comes from the phrase "Te Deum laudamus," Latin for "Thee, God, we praise." The ancient hymn is often used during special occasions such as the election of a pope, the consecration of a bishop, or the canonization of a saint.


Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Credit: Timothy L Brock

Date composed: 4th Century C.E.

Another ancient hymn with roots in early Christian Greek liturgy, "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" was originally written for the Liturgy of Saint James, and is still used in many orthodox Christian churches around the world. However, the modern version is actually a reconstruction that combines a translation of the original Greek lyrics with a French medieval folk tune named "Picardy."


Phos Hilaron

Credit: Mike Labrum

Date composed: 3rd Century C.E.

"Phos Hilaron," also known by its Latin name "Lumen Hilare," is one of the oldest known Christian hymns, dating back to the 3rd century C.E. Sung during vespers , or evening prayers, it is also known as "Lamp-lighting Hymn," because it is associated with the lighting of lamps at night. While its composition is sometimes attributed to St. Basil, who lived between 329 and 379 C.E., some sources claim that St. Basil himself said that the hymn was already old at his time.


Oxyrhynchus Hymn

Credit: Claire Satera

Date composed: 3rd Century C.E.

Discovered in Egypt among the Oxyrhynchus papyri in 1918, the "Oxyrhynchus Hymn" is written in Greek vocal notation and thought to be one of the earliest surviving Christian hymns, dating back to the 3rd century C.E. Despite not drawing from the Bible (at the time yet to be written), and the fact that only fragments of its lyrics are preserved, the hymn does reference important Christian elements such as the Holy Trinity.


Seikilos Epitaph

Credit: Caglar Araz

Date composed: 1st Century C.E.

The Seikilos Epitaph, discovered on a funerary stele in Turkey, is the oldest complete surviving musical composition. Both the lyrics and musical notation of the short song are inscribed in the pillar, and it is thought to have been written by a man named Seikilos to his deceased wife called Euterpe, or alternatively, to the Muse of Music. Since the inscription is clear and the type of notation is known, researchers had no problem in fully reconstructing the ancient melody.


Delphic Hymns

Credit: Elimende Inagella

Date composed: 2nd century B.C.E

The Delphic Hymns are a pair of Ancient Greek musical compositions dating back to the 2nd century B.C.E. Composed for the Pythian Games - celebratory competitions similar to the Olympic Games - held at the sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi, these hymns honor the god Apollo and invoke his blessings on the athletes and participants. While neither of the songs is complete, there are modern reconstructions that attempt to piece together the surviving fragments.


Song of Songs

Credit: Mick Haupt

Date composed: 1st Millennium B.C.E.

The "Song of Songs," also known as the Song of Solomon, is a collection of ancient Hebrew poems dating back to the 1st millennium B.C.E. Found in the Hebrew Bible, these passionate and poetic songs are unique in the fact that they do not explore explicitly religious teachings but rather celebrate love, desire, and the beauty of human relationships. Although there are no surviving melodies or notations associated with the poem, modern musicians have composed vocal and instrumental accompaniments to the text.


Hurrian Hymn No. 6

Credit: Egor Myznik

Date composed: 1400 B.C.E

Dating back to the Neolithic, the Hurrian Hymn No. 6 is the oldest known song in existence. Discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarit, Syria, this hymn was written in the Hurrian language and is dedicated to the goddess Nikkal. The tablet also includes instructions to have the singer accompanied by an ancient type of harp. Historians and musicians have tried to reconstruct the song as faithfully as possible, and there are dozens of versions online if you are feeling curious.


Enjoy These 10 Weird And Unique Sports From Around The World!

Published on March 24, 2024

Credit: Austris Augusts

Like every single aspect of this modern, ever-changing world, the realm of sports has gradually but radically changed over time. Gone are the days of leather gridiron helmets, basketball peach baskets, or those heavy, wooden bats swung by Babe Ruth. However, while the way they are played might change, the excitement and determination that fueled these sports over the centuries still remain the same.

We have gathered 10 of the most unique, eccentric, and down-right weird sports and competitions from all around the world. Some are new, some are old, but they all share the same grit and thrill that makes the sports you know and love great. Who knows? You might end up with a new favorite after this list.


Chess boxing

Credit: Johann Walter Bantz

In a very similar fashion to the visionary that made the first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chessboxing is the result of combining two sports that shouldn’t go well together, but oddly enough they do. A chessboxing match consists of alternating three-minute rounds of chess and boxing, starting and ending with chess. Victory might be achieved through knock-out in boxing or checkmate in chess.

The origins of chessboxing are disputed, but most fans agree that it was first conceived by French comic book artist Enki Bilal in a 1992 comic. Inspired by this, Dutch performance artist Iepe Rubingh held the first chessboxing event in Berlin in 2003 and went on to become the first world chessboxing champion that same year.


Dog Surfing

Credit: Mia Anderson

Some dogs love water. Anyone who has seen a golden retriever galloping happily through a beach can attest to this. What you might not know is that man’s best friend has been riding waves alongside surfers for almost 100 years. As its name implies, dog surfing is a sport practiced by dogs trained to ride a surfboard or a bodyboard, either alone or with a human. The first documented instances can be traced back to California and Hawaii in the 1920s, and in 1944, the image of a surfing dog named Rusty was published in National Geographic magazine. More recently, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in California has held since 2006 the largest dog surfing competition in the United States.



Credit: Kristof Zerbe

It might be a little misleading to consider hobbyhorsing a sport. Since it involves riding a toy horse through several obstacles that simulate those used in real riding competitions, a more accurate description might be that of a childish pastime or, well, a hobby. Having said that, it should be noted that Finland, hobbyhorsing’s country of origin, holds several regional competitions as well as an annual national championship. It is particularly popular with girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 18 years.


Lumberjack World Championship

Credit: Jason Abdilla

Every year, the city of Hayward, Wisconsin, receives over 100 lumberjacks, loggers, and sawyers eager to prove the steel of their axes in the Lumberjack World Championship. Participants compete in 21 events, including a 60-foot speed climb, logrolling (keeping balance on a spinning log floating on water), and chopping down timber. Over $50,000 is awarded in prize money to the winners of the different events, and the lumberjack that scored the most points is crowned as the Tony Wise All-Around Champion, named after the founder of the championship.


Underwater Torpedo

Credit: Clark Tai

In 2017, two former military pool instructors, Prime Hall and Don Tran, founded the Underwater Torpedo League. In this new sport they created, teams of five players try to get ahold of a rubber torpedo and place it on the other team’s goal on the other side of the pool. In the few years since its creation, Underwater Torpedo has taken social media by storm and resulted in a national tournament known as the "Aqua Bowl."


Toe Wrestling

Credit: Alejandro Alas

That little piggy might have gone to the market, but this one became a wrestling machine. Toe Wrestling was created in the 70s by a group of friends drinking in a pub in Staffordshire, England. Similarly to arm wrestling, toe wrestling involves two players locking their toes and then trying to pin their rival’s foot. Since 1994, the annual World Toe Wrestling Championship has been held in the English county of Derbyshire.


Wife Carrying

Credit: Shwa Hall

Here’s a bit of advice for all happy couples thinking about tying the knot this year: You might want to add the line "I promise to carry my spouse through the Finnish countryside in an annual competition" to your vows. Trust us, this might come in handy if you ever decide to join the Wife Carrying World Championship, held every year in Sonkajärvi, Finland, since 1992.

The wife-carrying contest (known as eukonkanto in Finland) is a race in which husbands carry their wives through several obstacles. The male contestants might carry their wives in a classic piggy-back, a fireman’s carry (over the shoulder), or on what’s known as an Estonian carry, with the wife held upside-down on the back, with her legs over the neck and shoulders of her husband. The winners of the Sonkajärvi World Championship are traditionally awarded the wife’s weight in beer.


Extreme Ironing

Credit: Immo Wegmann

The most widely accepted origin for this sport tells the story of Phil Shaw, a resident of Leicester, England, who, in 1997, came back home after a long day of work only to find a pile of clothes that needed to be ironed. Being an avid rock climber, Shaw decided to combine both activities by carrying his ironing board all the way up a rock climbing wall. And on that date, extreme ironing was born: after that first rock climbing wall, thousands of enthusiasts carried their ironing boards up mountains, skyscrapers, and canyons. Some have even ironed their clothes while parachuting or bungee jumping.


Lawnmower racing

Credit: Unsplash

Those endless hours mowing the lawn under your dad’s unyielding gaze might have finally paid off. In lawnmower racing competitions, participants race in modified lawnmowers through a closed circuit. While the lawnmowers keep their original engines, the blades are obviously removed for safety. Several U.S. states hold their own races, but perhaps the most well-known is the Twelve Mile 500, held every year on Independence Day in Twelve Mile, Indiana.


Caber Tossing

Credit: Markus Spiske

You might know this traditional Scottish sport as it has been portrayed in several forms of media. The Caber toss is normally practiced in the Scottish Highland games, and it consists of throwing the titular caber (a large, wooden pole that weighs between 90 and 150 pounds) so that it falls on its other end. The distance thrown is not important, but rather that it falls away from the thrower. When it comes to scoring, the straightest toss wins the most points, with the "12 o'clock" position (directly opposite from the thrower) being awarded the maximum score.

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