Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ancient Flute Discovery

About a week ago I read in the NY Times (1) about the discovery of a flute that's at least 35,000 years old. The flute was found by Nicholas Conard, professor of archaeology at the University of Tubingen. The initial publication which serves as the basis for all the news reports is an article in the online journal "Nature." (2)

Unearthed - literally! - in Hohle Fels Cave in Germany's Ach Valley, the flute is crafted from the wing bone of a griffon vulture. As summarized by, "The flutes' design and studies of other artifacts from the site suggest that music was an integral part of human life far earlier than first thought." (3)

Unfortunately I was not able to contact anyone who could give me permission to publish a picture of the flute, but there are many interesting pictures in the articles cited below. Click here to see my favorite. Compliments of the BBC News (4), you can hear a tune played on this amazing little flute, and you can listen to an interview by Dr. Conard about the discovery.

I like to think this delicate flute was once played with as much grace as a bird in flight, and with the joy of a bird singing at dawn to awaken the sun. Perhaps my desire to play flute tunes beautifully springs from the same Source that motivated those who played the ancient flutes found in Germany.

(1) "Flute Offers Clues to Stone-Age Music," by John Noble Wilford. New York Times. June 24, 2009. (may require a NY Times login to view content)
(2) "New flutes document the earliest musical tradition in southwestern Germany," by Nicholas J. Conard, Maria Malina, Susanne C. Münzel in the online journal Nature. June 24, 2009. (requires login to read entire content)
(3) "Ancient Flutes Suggest Rich Life in Stone-Age Europe," by Kelli Whitlock Burton. ScienceNow Daily News, - the online magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. June 24, 2009.
(4)" 'Oldest musical instrument' found," by Pallab Ghosh, BBC News. June 25, 2009.

Plus a few more, just for good measure:
"35,000-year-old German flutes display excellent kraftwerk," by Ed Yong. Not Exactly Rocket Science (a blog). June 24, 2009.
"A Little Flute Music to Warm the Cave," by Richard Harris, June 29, 2009.

© 2009, Linda Mason Hood
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