Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Artist Unidentified (Roman)


Flute or "Phrygian Aulos"

Creation Date



1st - 2nd century CE


12 7/8 in. x 1 1/8 in. (32.7 cm. x 2.86 cm.)

Object Type

musical instrument

Creation Place

Ancient Mediterranean

Medium and Support


Credit Line

Gift of Edward Perry Warren, Esq., Honorary Degree, 1926


Public Domain

Accession Number

Although commonly translated as “flute,”the aulos was played more like a modern oboe, probably with a double reed fitted in the rounded mouthpiece one end of the instrument. This flute was made of eight hollow tubes carved from small pieces of ivory that were fitted together using a collar and sleeve technique. The assembled instrument was fashioned with eight holes on the top for the musician’s fingers and two holes on the bottom for the thumbs. The curved shape of this instrument with its flaring bell corresponds to variant of the aulos known as the elymos or “Phrygian aulos” that became popular in Roman period.

Additional Media

Additional Image right side
right side
Additional Image detail: mouthpiece
detail: mouthpiece
Additional Image detail: curve of flute near foot joint
detail: curve of flute near foot joint
Additional Image overall from front
overall from front
Additional Image detail: bell (end)
detail: bell (end)
Additional Image left side
left side
Additional Image view from back
view from back

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