Modern Humans Created Flutes Over 42,000 Years Ago

BoneFluteHohleFelsCaveGermany2012-09-03.jpg “LOST AND FOUND; Scientists say that this bone flute, found at Hohle Fels Cave in Germany, is at least 42,000 years old.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. D4) In hillside caves of southwestern Germany, archaeologists in recent years have uncovered the beginnings of music and art by early modern humans migrating into Europe from Africa. New dating evidence shows that these oldest known musical instruments in the world, flutes made of bird bone and mammoth ivory, are even older than first thought.

Scientists led by Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford in England reported last week that improved radiocarbon tests determined that animal bones found with the flutes were 42,000 to 43,000 years old. This is close to the time when the first anatomically modern humans were spreading into Central Europe, presumably along the Danube River valley.
Earlier tests had yielded dates of 35,000 years ago for artifacts at several caves where flutes and also ivory statuettes of voluptuous women have been found near Ulm, Germany, and the Danube’s headwaters. The best preserved bone flute, with five finger holes, was collected at Hohle Fels Cave. The new analysis was based on material from the nearby Geissenklösterle Cave.

For the full story, see:
JOHN NOBLE WILFORD. “Flute’s Revised Age Dates the Sound of Music Earlier.” The New York Times (Tues., May 29, 2012): D4.

Some of the new results summarized above are reported to the scientific community in:
Higham, Thomas, Laura Basell, Roger Jacobi, Rachel Wooda, Christopher Bronk Ramseya, and Nicholas J. Conardf. “Τesting Models for the Beginnings of the Aurignacian and the Advent of Figurative Art and Music: The Radiocarbon Chronology of Geißenklösterle.” Journal of Human Evolution 62, no. 6 (June 2012): 664-76.

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