The cythara is a wide group of stringed instruments of medieval and Renaissance Europe, including not only the lyre and harp but necked, string instruments. In fact, unless a medieval document gives an indication that it meant a necked instrument it was referring to a lyre, it was spelled cithara or kithara and was Latin for the Greek lyre. However, lacking names for some stringed instruments from the medieval period, these have been referred to as fiddles and citharas/cytharas, both by medieval people and by modern researchers; the instruments are important as being ancestors to or influential in the development of a wide variety of European instruments, including fiddles, violas and guitars. Although not proven to be separate from the line of lute-family instruments that dominated Europe, arguments have been made that they represent a European-based tradition of instrument building, for a time separate from the lute-family instruments. In the 9th century, one of the instruments that cythara was used to name was a large plucked or strummed instrument.
Pictures of the instrument illustrated in the Stuttgart Psalter all have the word "cythara" near the instrument in the text. The players hold the instrument in a distinct manner similar to the way that citole players were shown to hold their instruments, resting the instrument on the playing arm, bringing their forearm and wrist to the strings from underneath the body of the instrument. In contrast, players of lute family instruments, such as the gittern, mandore, or lute did not hold the instrument this way. Instead of keeping their arms below the instrument, they allowed their arm and wrist to move parallel to the soundboard, as a guitar player does today. One picture in the Stuttgart Psalter of the cythara shows it held a different way from all the other pictures on that document; the player is holding it vertically, resting on his lap or knee, supporting the neck with his left hand and having a free right hand to play. Citole players have been shown holding their instruments vertically; the name may have been popular for its "magical" connotations, a belief that the music from a stringed instrument could sway listeners emotions.
Lyres were displaced in medieval times by "plucked fiddles", which were plucked and strummed until the bow arrived in the 10th century. The remaining lyres as well, after its arrival. One example of an early bowed fiddle was the Byzantine lyra; the theory was a variation of an earlier theory, talked about in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica's articles about the guitar and rotta, which were written by Kathleen Schlesinger. Where Winternitz focused on the cittern, Schlesinger concentrated on the chain of instrument evolution from cithara to guitar. Schlesinger believed that the instrumental change that adapted the lyre into the guitar-like instruments took place among the Greeks in the Anatolian Peninsula, she saw proof of that transformation in the drawings in the Utrecht Psalter. One point of controversy in Schlesinger's Britannica articles that continues among researchers today is a point of view against the idea of the guitar evolving from Arab introduced instruments. Schlesinger wrote about various instruments including the guitarra morisca.
Scholars have not conclusively straightened out these instruments. The guitarra latina is one, called the citole, due to the inability to know from the images whether it had a free neck or a deep neck with thumb hole (in which the range on the neck is limited to what the fingers can reach from the thumbhole. Kathleen Schlesinger wrote the cithar article and talked plainly about the transformation of the ancient instruments into the modern: "...it was among the Greeks of Asia Minor that the several steps in the transition from cithara into guitar took place. The first of these steps produced the rotta, by the construction of body and transverse bar in one piece...the cithara with rectangular body, while from the cithara with a body having the curve of the lower half of the violin was produced a rotta with the outline of the body of the guitar. Both types were common in Europe until the 14th century, some played with a bow, others twanged by the fingers, bearing indifferently both names and rotta....
The addition of a finger-board, stretching like a short neck from body to transverse bar, leaving on each side of the finger-board space for the hand to pass through in order to stop the strings, produced the crwth or crowd, brought about the reduction in the number of the strings to three or four. The conversion of the rotta into the guitar was an easy transition effected by the addition of a long neck to a body derived from the oval rotta; when the bow was applied the result was the guitar or troubadour fiddle." From the rotta article: "... The rotta represents the first step in the evolution of the cithara, when arms and cross-bar were replaced by a frame joined to the body, the strings being restricted to eight or less... The next step was the addition of a finger-board and the consequent reduction of the strings to three or four, since each string was now capable of producing several notes... As soon as the neck was added to the guitar-shaped body, the instrument ceased to be a rotta and became a guitar, or a guitar-fiddle if played with the bow."
From the guitar article: "The guitar is derived from the cithara both structurally and etymologically...we shall be justified in assumi
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RFA Cherryleaf was a Leaf-class small fleet tanker of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, in service from 1973 to 1980. She was built by Nordseewerke in Emden and launched in 1962 as Overseas Adventurer for London and Overseas Bulk Carriers, a subsidiary of London & Overseas Freighters, she renamed RFA Cherryleaf. In 1980 she was returned to her name reverted to Overseas Adventurer. In 1981 LOF sold her to Petrostar Co Ltd of Saudi Arabia who renamed her Petrostar XVI. On 5 April 1986 during the Tanker War phase of the Iran–Iraq War she was off Halul Island en route from Bahrain to Sharjah when Iranian helicopters hit her with AGM-65 Maverick missiles, her accommodation was gutted by fire and four crewmembers were killed. She was towed to Sharjah where she was declared a constructive total loss on 9 April 1986 and laid up for disposal, she was sold to National Ship Demolition Co Ltd of Taiwan, arrived Kaohsiung on 24 January 1987 and her demolition began on 19 February 1987. ACIG team. "Tanker War, 1980-88".
Arabian Peninsula & Persian Gulf Database. ACIG: 26. Sedgwick, Stanley. J.. London & Overseas Freighters, 1948-92: A Short History. World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-68-1. Sedgwick, Stanley. F.. London & Overseas Freighters Limited 1949-1977. World Ship Society. ISBN 0905617037. "London & Overseas Freighters 1941-97". LOF–News