35,000-year-old flute is oldest known musical instrument
The discovery, reported in the journal Nature, suggests that the first humans to occupy Europe had a fairly sophisticated culture. The instrument was excavated from a cave in Germany.
By Thomas H. Maugh II - June 25, 2009
The wing bone of a griffon vulture with five precisely drilled holes in it is the oldest known musical instrument, a 35,000-year-old relic of an early human society that drank beer, played flute and drums and danced around the campfire on cold winter evenings, researchers said Wednesday.
Excavated from a cave in Germany, the nearly complete flute suggests that the first humans to occupy Europe had a fairly sophisticated culture, complete with alcohol, adornments, art objects and music that they developed there or even brought with them from Africa when they moved to the new continent 40,000 years or so ago.
The reconstructed flute, a little under 9 inches long, was found in 12 pieces in a layer of sediment nearly 9 feet below the cave's floor. The team also found fragments of two ivory flutes -- which are less durable -- that are probably not quite as old.
The surfaces of the flute and the structure of the bone are in excellent condition and reveal many details about its manufacture. ....