Archive for July 2nd, 2009

The world’s oldest flute

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

It was carved from the bone of a griffon vulture approximately 35,000 years ago.

Archaeologists found it at Hohle Fels Cave in Germany along with a variety of other artifacts and stone age debris.

The preserved portion is about 8.5 inches long and includes the end of the instrument into which the musician blew. The maker carved two deep, V-shaped notches there, and four fine lines near the finger holes. The other end appears to have been broken off; judging by the typical length of these bird bones, two or three inches are missing.

There are other similar instruments extant from other caves in the area, but this is the oldest found so far. It was lying in the sediment next to another historical first: the 35,000 year old sculpture of a buxom dame announced in May.

Now thanks to experimental archaeologist Wulf Hein’s reproduction of the flute, you can be transported back 35,000 years and hear what they heard.

Hear the flute for the first time in 35,000 years

Lovely, haunting sound, isn’t it? I bet it sounds really great in cave acoustics, too.

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