The pandura (Ancient Greek: , pandoura) was an ancient Greek string instrument belonging in the broad class of the lute and guitar instruments. Musical instruments of this class have been observed in ancient Greek artwork from the 3rd or 4th century BC onward. Lutes have been present in ancient Greece since the 4th century BC.
The ancient Greekpandoura was a medium or long-necked lute with a small resonating chamber, used by the ancient Greeks. It commonly had three strings: such an instrument was also known as the trichordon (three-stringed) (, McKinnon 1984:10). Its descendants still survive as the Greek tambouras and bouzouki, the North African kuitra, the Eastern Mediterranean saz and the Balkan tamburica and remained popular also in the near east and eastern Europe, too, usually acquiring a third string in the course of time, since the fourth century BCE.
Information about Roman pandura-type instruments comes mainly from ancient Roman artwork. Under the Romans the pandura was modified: the long neck was preserved but was made wider to take four strings, and the body was either oval or slightly broader at the base, but without the inward curves of the pear-shaped instruments. The word pandura was rare in classical Latin writers.
There were at least two distinct varieties of pandura. One type was pear-shaped, used in Assyria and Persia. In this type the body had graceful inward curves which led up gradually from base to neck. These curves changed at the bottom end off the instrument to a more sloping outline, an elongated triangle with the corners rounded off. The oval type, a favourite instrument of the Egyptians, was also found in ancient Persia and among the Arabs of North Africa.
From the ancient Greek word pandoura, a comparable instrument is found in modern Chechnya and Ingushetia, where it is known as phandar. In Georgia the panduri is a three-string fretted instrument. The modern Georganian panduri instrument is in the tanbur class.
Memorial stele for a 16-year-old Roman woman, depicted playing a pandura-type instrument, date estimated 2nd century A.D. Unearthed in 1956 at the archeological site Emerita Augusta in Spain. Kept at the Museo Nacional de Arte Romano in Mérida, Spain.
Pandura-type instrument depicted on a Roman sarcophagus dated 3rd century AD.
Roman or Byzantine pandoura from a 6th century A.D. mosaic in Constantinople. Henry George Farmer named it a 3-string pandoura.
^Search for word pandura at "Classical Latin Texts", a website that is able to boast: "This website contains essentially all Latin literary texts written before A.D. 200, as well as some texts selected from later antiquity." Pandura is very rare as a word in classical Latin texts, but pandura-type instruments are not very rare in ancient Roman artwork. This raises the question: what then did the ancient Romans call it? Classical Latin cithara meant a lyre-type instrument at least sometimes, but sometimes it meant any plucked string musical instrument, and it seems very probable that the pandura was called by the name cithara in classical Latin at least sometimes. The classical Latin dictionary of Lewis and Short translates Classical Latin cithara as English "cithara, cithern, guitar, or lute". See Lewis, Charlton T.; Short, Charles (1879). "cithara". A Latin Dictionary; Founded on Andrews' edition of Freund's Latin dictionary. Oxford: Trustees of Tufts University. Retrieved 2018.
^"Estela de Lutatia Lupata". Museo Nacional de Arte Romano. Retrieved 2018. La joven LUTATIA toca un instrumento de cuerda, tipo "pandarium"... [translation: The young LUTATIA plays a stringed instrument, "pandarium" type]
^"Sarcophagus (1805,0703.132)". The British Museum. Retrieved 2018. The sarcophagus is in The British Museum, which says it was uncovered near Rome and was probably made in Rome itself, and date-estimates it 3rd century AD.
^Farmer, Henry George (October 1949). "An Early Greek Pandore". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 1 (2). Retrieved 2018. The instrument is a three-stringed pandoura...