This weekend the Durham Museum in Omaha, Nebraska will begin hosting an exhibit called “Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked The World.”

The touring exhibit includes hundreds of artifacts and dozens of guitars telling the history of the instrument that’s been at the center of popular music for, technically, thousands of years.

While the guitar as we know it dates back to 16th century Europe, stringed instruments go back even further.

And the earliest guitar-like stringed instrument we’ve been able to find goes back to ancient Egypt, some 3,500 years ago.


The instrument belonged to a musician called Har-Mose, or at least it was buried with him, just as he was buried near Queen Hatshepsut, presumably so he could play music for her in the next world.

It’s considered to be a tanbur, which has three strings, compared to the six we usually find on a guitar.

But in a lot of other ways it’s very similar to modern guitars.

It’s got a cedar body, a pear-shaped soundboard made of animal hide, and a plectrum (guitar picks are a type of plectrum) to strike the strings, and it’s attached to the instrument with a cord.

The lighter, of course, came much later, so do you think that when Har-Mose was jamming out on his tanbur, that people in the Egyptian Queen’s court held up their torches and yelled out requests?

Pretty sure, though, that the player of the earliest guitar-like instrument did not play “Walk Like An Egyptian.”

Today is National Weatherperson’s Day, and we’re getting lots of weather right now where I live: snow, freezing rain, bitter cold temperatures.

Fun fact about weather forecasting: when your predictions don’t pan out, that’s called a bust.

They warned us days ago about the cold, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed if they’d had a bust here.

Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked The World (Visit Omaha)

A Brief History of the Guitar (Science of Rock)

5 Facts About the Trickiness of Weather Forecasting (Mental Floss)

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Guitar photo by Michela Mongardi via Flickr/Creative Commons