21.03.2016 change 21.03.2016

Archaeomusicology - dawn of the new discipline in Poland

"Music in Archaeology" is the title of scientific symposium, which took place on 4-5 March at the Institute of Musicology (IM), University of Warsaw (UW). "This is a very special day for our institute, because through this conference the Institute of Musicology joins the international community of archaeomusicology" - said Prof. Sławomira Żerańska-Kominek, head of UW IM, opening the session.

Prof. Żerańska-Kominek explained that archaeomusicology research is not a novelty abroad. The idea of combining these two disciplines was born in the 1970s. "Archaeology of music has a distinct methodology and today forms a fast-growing scientific community" - she added. However, in Poland until now there was no systemic cooperation between the communities of archaeologists and musicologists. Thus, the Institute of Musicology of the University of Warsaw initiated a new discipline in Poland - archaeomusicology.

Prof. Wojciech Nowakowski, head of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw, said during the opening of the conference that archaeologists and musicologists share curiosity and desire to determine the specifics of particular areas of life of broadly understood ancestors. However, the groups have different approach to the monument and applied research tools.

The conference was held within the framework of the activities carried out in connection with the project "Archaeological musical instruments in Polish museums", funded by the National Programme for the Development of Humanities. Its coordinator is a musicologist, Prof. Anna Gruszczyńska-Ziółkowska from the Department of Systematic Musicology IM UW, who addressed archaeological aspects many times in her research.

"Archaeologists and musicologists often work on the same material, but often separately, without consultation. Therefore, the aim of this meeting and project is an attempt to connect the two communities. I hope that the conference will have a working character and will be filled with interesting discussions" - said Prof. Gruszczyńska-Ziółkowska.

Papers were presented by both members of the group working in the National Programme for the Development of Humanities project, as well as the archaeologists specialising in various aspects related to dance and music in archaeology, for example, an analysis of depictions (with focus on dance and music) on the walls of ceramic vessels. Archaeologists also presented musical instruments discovered during the ongoing excavations.

The objective of the National Programme for the Development of Humanities project carried out at IM UW is to find and analyse the musical instruments in the collections of Polish museums, universities and PAS institutes. During the meeting, students and PhD students involved in the project presented preliminary results. Young researchers not only verified the findings of archaeologists as to the function of alleged relics (whether they were tools, or perhaps musical instruments?), but also done a number of recordings and acoustic analyses. Conference participants heard the sounds made by original rattles and other instruments dating back thousands of years, and heard expert commentary on the spectrum of generated sound.

"Another conference is planned for next year. We will hold discussions with the community of ethnologists. In 2018, we will summarize our past actions and set research directions for the future" - Prof. Gruszczyńska-Ziółkowska said in an interview with PAP.

Another objective of the project is to train young specialists - the majority of people involved in the project are IM UW students or postgraduates, but the team leader is open to a broad, interdisciplinary cooperation, not only with archaeologists and ethnologists. The studies also include acoustics experts from Warsaw University of Technology and architects from Wroclaw University of Technology, who specialise in modern three-dimensional modelling.

"Musical instruments an sound tools are not only objects that make sounds. Their properties indicate the way people hear the world - thing of which today, in the era of omnipresent noise, we rarely think. Today, we +close+ our ears to the wall of sounds" - said Prof. Gruszczyńska-Ziółkowska, indicating the direction of consideration associated with the research.

Prof. Żerańska–Kominek could not give a definite answer to the question of whether the project would be the basis for the establishment of Poland\'s first department of archaeomusicology. She stated that if the area gains popularity and a sufficiently large group interested in the subject forms, it is not ruled out in the future.

"There is no doubt that this is the first attempt in Poland to systemically organize joint research of archaeologists and musicologists" - added Prof. Gruszczyńska-Ziółkowska.

PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Szymon Zdziebłowski

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