O.J.'s Trumpet Page Resources

Salpinx - the Greek trumpet

A man playing a Salpinx. Wallpainting found at the Delos Museum.

The instrument used by the Greek trumpeters was called salpinx.

Used at the Olympic Games
The ancient Olympic Games in Greece included contests of trumpet playing in 396 B.C.  These contests were judged not by musicality but by volume of sound.
Among famous trumpeters who participated in the games was a trumpeter named Archias 1), who won three times and to whom a column of honor was erected for his achievement.  Another contestant was Herodorus of Megas, whose playing was so loud that many in the audience were stunned by the concussion.  He was a giant man, slept on a bearskin, and when playing two trumpets at one time forced the audience to move back due to the force of his immense sound.

Mention of the Greek trumpet
In the Aeneid, Virgil makes numerous references to the trumpet, most notably having to do with Aeneas' comrade, Misenus. The Greeks and Trojans of whom Virgil speaks made probably use not only of the conch — a sea shell with a cut opening as a mouthpiece, but also the brass trumpet ("...With breathing brass to kindle fierce alarms...") or salpinx. A number of sources mention this metal instrument (with a bone mouthpiece) and they appear in vase paintings and wall paintings.

A preserved examle
A salpinx is preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Length: 155 cm
Bell diameter:  7.8 cm
Bone with bronze ferrules and bronzebell.
Mouthpiece of bone with no defined cup, throat, or backbore.

Edward H. Tarr. "Die Trompete" (page 15)
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
Wikipedia: Music of ancient Greece
History of the Bugle, Page 2.
ITG Journal, October 2006 - The Salpinx in Greek Antiquity

1) Tarr call him Achias, but Nikos Xanthoulis (ITG Journal) correct this to Archias

Thanks to:

Olaf Brattegaard for photo from Delos.