Bone Flutes Found in German Caves Point to Roots of Creativity

Joke about flute players all you want, but it seems more likely that our early musical impulses were fueled by a variation on such an instrument based on recent finds in caves in southern Germany.

While exploring a human cave along the Danube with the name Geißenklösterle, researchers discovered flutes dating back to 45,000 years ago using radiocarbon-dated bones found in the same layer of archaeological excavations.

The discovery marks the first example of such instruments found to date, indicating that early humans showed artistic impulses much earlier than initially believed.

Carved from mammoth ivory and what appear to be the bones of a bird, the implements are the second such find from the settlement of the so-called Aurignacian culture. In 2008, the oldest known example of figurative art was also found in the same cave system, the Venus of Hohle Fels.

“These results are consistent with a hypothesis we made several years ago that the Danube was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations to central Europe between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago.” , said researcher Nick Conard of the University of Tübingen in a statement. statement, which was reported by Discovery News.

While of course the music around the campfire where such instruments were played was surely far from Bach’s Partita in A minor, flautists should rest assured that until a violin, piano or guitar present in one of these caves, they have bragging rights. Don’t go too far down the evolutionary arc of the jazz flute, because out there things can get a bit dicey.

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