The Hammered Dulcimer is thought to have originated in Persia (the cradle of civilization) some 6000 years ago. It has been popular in the folk music of Europe, the middle east, Russia and China for centuries, and has enjoyed a revival of interest in the United States over the last 25 years, where it was popular in the late 19th century. Earlier it is known to be one of the first musical instruments to arrive in the United States with the settlers at Jamestown, Virginia (1607), as noted in the ship's log.
Since the dulcimer is played by striking the strings with small wooden mallets, it is considered a forerunner of the piano. There is a version of this instrument which is plucked, the "psaltery", and it is this type of "dulcimer" and "psaltery" which are mentioned in the Bible.
There are two excellent recordings of hammered dulcimer music featured on this web site in the Music section. They are recordings by Timmy's friend, Jim Taylor, who also made Timmy's hammered dulcimer.
For a full line of excellent hammered dulcimers, lap dulcimers and bowed psalteries, you may want to visit Song of the Wood in Black Mountain, NC or on their website at www.songofthewood.com.