Making music in the Stone Age

Posted on: June 26, 2009

In Thursday’s (6/25) New York Times, John Noble Wilford writes, “Archaeologists Wednesday reported the discovery last fall of a bone flute and two fragments of ivory flutes that they said represented 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. … But until now the artifacts appeared to be too rare and were not dated precisely enough to support wider interpretations of the early rise of music. The earliest solid evidence of musical instruments previously came from France and Austria, but dated much more recently than 30,000 years ago. … Although radiocarbon dates earlier than 30,000 years ago can be imprecise, samples from the bones and associated material were tested independently by two laboratories, in England and Germany, using different methods. Scientists said the data agreed on ages of at least 35,000 years.”

Posted June 26, 2009