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There were singer-lutenists at the court in Palermo following the Norman conquest of the island from the Muslims, and the lute is depicted extensively in the ceiling paintings in the Palermo’s royal Cappella Palatina, dedicated by the Norman King Roger II of Sicily in 1140.By the 14th century, lutes had disseminated throughout Italy and, probably because of the cultural influence of the Hohenstaufen kings and emperor, based in Palermo, the lute had also made significant inroads into the German-speaking lands.Mandolins evolved from the lute family in Italy during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the deep bowled mandolin, produced particularly in Naples, became common in the 19th century. 13,000 BC, a cave painting in the Trois Frères cave in France depicts what some believe is a musical bow, a hunting bow used as a single-stringed musical instrument.
Flat-backed instruments are commonly used in Irish, British and Brazilian folk music.
The earliest image showing a lute-like instrument came from Mesopotamia prior to 3000 BC.
The line of short lutes was further developed to the east of Mesopotamia, in Bactria, Gandhara, and Northwest India, and shown in sculpture from the 2nd century BC through the 4th or 5th centuries AD.
The pandura, a lute the Romans brought to Spain, was also strung with three strings, and later called trichordon by musicologists.
Beside the introduction of the lute to Spain (Andalusia) by the Moors, another important point of transfer of the lute from Arabian to European culture was Sicily, where it was brought either by Byzantine or later by Muslim musicians.