Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Die Urflöten

Scientists at the University of Tübingen announced the discovery in a German cave of the world's oldest known musical instrument, a bone flute whose maker lived more than 35,000 years ago in the middle of the last Ice Age. The New York Times article gives more detail including a sound sample of a melody played on a replica flute. 

Archaeologists reported Wednesday the discovery last fall of a bone flute and two fragments of ivory flutes that they said represent the earliest known flowering of music-making in Stone Age culture. They said the bone flute with five finger holes, found at Hohle Fels Cave in the hills west of Ulm, was “by far the most complete of the musical instruments so far recovered from the caves” in a region where pieces of other flutes have been turning up in recent years.

A three-hole flute carved from mammoth ivory was uncovered a few years ago at another cave, as well as two flutes made from wing bones of a mute swan. In the same cave, archaeologists also found beautiful carvings of animals.

German scientists were unable to determine whether any of these early Ice Age musicians called themselves "The Stones".

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