The Byzantine lyra or lira (Greek: λύρα) was a medieval bowed string musical instrument in the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire. In its popular form, the lyra was a pear-shaped instrument with three to five strings, held upright and played by stopping the strings from the side with fingernails. The first known depiction of the instrument is on a Byzantine ivory casket (900–1100 AD), preserved in the Bargello in Florence (Museo Nazionale, Florence, Coll. Carrand, No.26). Versions of the Byzantine lyra are still played throughout the former lands of the Byzantine Empire: Greece (Politiki lyra, lit. "lyra of the City" i.e. Constantinople), Crete (Cretan lyra), Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Croatia (Dalmatian Lijerica), Italy (Calabrian lira) and Armenia.
|Other names||Byzantine lyra, lira, lūrā, Rum Kemençe, medieval fiddle, pear-shaped rebec|
(Necked bowl lute sounded by a bow)
|Developed||9th century AD|