First Flute Found
Imagine yourself living 35,000 years ago. What would a typical evening in your family's cave be like? After eating the food your parents hunted and gathered, would you have a rock-throwing contest with your sister? Would you draw pictures in the dirt? A new discovery suggests you might pass the time making music on a flute.
A group of scientists have uncovered a 35,000-year-old flute in Germany. They believe the flute is the oldest handmade musical instrument ever discovered.
Professor Nicholas Conard led the team of archaeologists, or scientists who study remains of the ancient world, that found the flute. The team uncovered it from the floor of a cave in Germany. The flute was broken into 12 pieces when they dug it up.
The instrument is about eight-and-a-half inches long. It is made from the wing bone of a vulture. (A vulture is a large bird that feeds on the meat of dead animals.) One end of the flute has two V-shaped notches. Conard says that's where a musician would blow to make sound. Five finger holes are carved into the instrument. As with modern flutes, the player would cover one or more of the holes while blowing on the flute to make different tones.
"It's [clearly] the oldest instrument in the world," Conard told news organization Associated Press (AP) in June.
The ancient flute was too fragile to play. Conard and another researcher made a copy of the instrument. They used the same type of vulture bone as in the original. They were able to play a number of songs, including "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Early Humans Were Creative
The flute is the latest find that suggests early humans in Europe were artistically creative. Conard's team discovered more works of art in the same cave as the bone flute. They found a statue of a female, made of ivory. Conard believes the small statue is 40,000 years old. That would make the figure the oldest known sculpture of a human.
Conard and many other experts believe that music and art strengthened early human communities in Europe. Their creativity helped them develop better communication skills. Strong communities and advanced communication skills helped early humans survive difficult living conditions. These qualities helped them establish the modern societies we have today.
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