A horizontal harp, strung with seven to nine strings and usually decorated with a finial in the shape of a human forearm, is likely to have been a symbol of the Neo-Assyrian state. Various features distinguish this musical instrument from contemporary Elamite harps, and from other harps in Mesopotamian history. The horizontal forearm harp was the most frequently depicted musical instrument on Neo-Assyrian palace reliefs and bronze doors; pairs of male Assyrians play the harp for the king in official duties of state or cult. The decorative forearm sometimes wears the rosette bracelet associated with royalty. Consideration of the iconographic significance of the forearm suggests possible Neo-Assyrian attitudes toward music.
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