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Hunting/signal horn
I remember someone making a horn in a greek style but I was wondering if anyone knows of any reference or vase painting showing a horn being used as a trumpet? I have found many images showing horns being used for drinking but nothing showing them used as trumpets.

Edward Lindey

A horse is a thing of beauty... none will tire of looking at him as long as he displays himself in his splendor.         Xenophon


Are you talking about these type of cow horn bugles?

We also make drinking horns and also brass hunting horns.


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The Roman soldiers seem to have made metal horns (think cornu or tuba), mostly


while the Syrians, Yemenis and Israelis used ram horns (think shofar)

I would be unsurprised to find that Roman farmers/ranchers used sheep, goat, cattle horns for signals of various kinds, as well as for making spoons, cups, decorations, etc. Horn has many uses.

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M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
The Greeks used an instrument called a Salpinx, from what research I have done, it one of the only 'brass instruments' used in ancient Greece. The instrument was averaged between 2ft and 4ft in lenght, it sole purpose was for communication and public address. There are valse paintings of the Salpinx players, I have a sketch of one in a book by John Landels - Music of Ancient Greece and Rome.

The Romans had 4 main brass instruments instruments - Lituus, Tuba, Cornu and Buccina.

The lituus is a 'J Shaped' instrument where the bell curves up and rearwards. Uses ceremonial, however by the 1st Century its use faded in favour of other instruments.

Tuba (Latin for Tube) was a straight semi-conical instrument about 4[sup]1[/sup]/[sub]2[/sub]ft putting it around Bb in pitch, about the same sort of length as a modern Bb Trumpet (without valve system). Uses included the ceremonial, concerts/entertainment and battlefield communication. Players were called "Tubicen, pl. Tubicines"

Buccina and the Cornu were the curved instruments though the distinction between the two is still debated by scholars, personally I think the difference may have been the shape of bore, fully conical (Cornu - Latin for Horn) and semi-conical (Buccina - Latin for Trumpet) . They on average between nine and twelve feet long (trombone to french horn length), and pitched the instrument between Bb and F.
Because of the length the instruments were, it meant that with a complementary mouthpiece the range of notes that instruments could play was extensive. This was used for Battlefield communication, and was used in concerts and entertainments. Players were called "Cornicen, pl. Cornicines" and "Buccinaetors" the muscles in our cheeks near the mouth are called "Buccinaetors" and the etymological link gives an idea on the technique used for playing. Brass players use the same technique today.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, the trumpet died out and only returned to western Europe when it was brought back by Crusaders.

I have currently doing extensive research on the subject of Roman brass music.

The Hebrews had (and still use to today for celebrations) called the Shofar
There is a terra cotta plaque showing two hoplites, one of which has his shield hung on the back and blowing a natural horn.
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
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Photo of Dan Di

Vaticsazn Museum, plaque from Herakleia Pontica

Kind regards
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M. Demetrius Abicio
(David Wills)

Saepe veritas est dura.
speaking about horns as an instrument ...
in northern Italy the Arnoaldi situla (beginning of 5th century BC, Bologna) shows a ‘ procession ‘ of warriors - already equipped with some elements from the Greek hoplite panoply – that begins with an infantryman blowing a simple horn, after having thrust his 2 spears/javelins in the ground.


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ὁπλῖται δὲ ἀγαθοὶ καὶ ἀκροβολισταί (Strabo,IV, 6, 2)
I think it was me who said I was making a horn based upon an early style which was actually a very late Bronze Age examples, which could have crossed over into the early Geometric period in greek chronology.

I am working on an example for a client based upon an Irish example which is similar to some of the evidence shown here by Giannis. I'm working with a foundry who are going to case one of the Bronze horns based upon my drawings and photographs

Claire Marshall

General Layabout

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Kind regards
I had a friend who had a repro of a bronze irish horn. It was similar shaped to the lituus and the horn shaped end was detatchable from the main tobe (which was 2-3 ft long) and playable in its own right. he played it as one does a didgeridoo. I played it like a horn. Its resonance was awesome. However I always theorised that it must have had a wooden mouth piece as it did not end in a truncated cone as per normal horns, It also had little thorn like decorations as part of its décor.
I will be interested to hear how yours goes


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