It’s a common belief that the earliest Western music sheet we have is that of the Seikilos epitaph, a Greek grave stele from the first century AD. It’s a drinking song (skolion), written by Seikilos for her wife Euterpe, preceded by the following text:

imageI am an image in stone. Seikilos put me here, where I am forever, the symbol of eternal remembrance.

And the song itself is a melancholic melody on these words:

Shine, as long as you live;
do not be sad.
Cause life is surely too short,
and time demands its toll.

You can find a version of the same song arranged by me in the music section.


The stele was found in 1883 in Aydin, Turkey, and lost during the Asia Minor Holocaust (1922). Later it was found again, broken in its base: the woman who had it used it as a vase holder in her garden, and the base was cut flat. Today it can be seen in the National Museum of Denmark.