Though you may think the oldest instrument known to man is the modified chiptunes Game Boy, Oxford University and University of Tübingen researchers have announced that, actually, a collection of flutes made from mammoth ivory and bird bones are actually the oldest known instruments, at about 40,000 years old.
Geißenklösterle Cave in southern Germany, the site at which the flutes were found, is thought to have been occupied by some of the first modern humans, so it would seem that some of the first modern humans couldn’t help but let the rhythm take them over, bailamos. More like tocamos la flauta, amirite?
Lead author of the study, Oxford professor Tom Higham, along with his crew, used a method of radiocarbon dating on other bones found in the same excavation site as the flutes, which involved an improved filtration method in order to remove contamination found within the bones.
The site at which the flutes were found, it turns out, has shown that the earliest known modern humans from said site predate other similar early humans from other sites by about 2,000 to 3,000 years. The dating has shown that early modern humans were found in the Danube valley before a significant drop in temperature hit the area, and Higham feels it’s important to know how that drop in temperature affected those humans. Hopefully, it sparked them to make trumpets out of mammoth ivory and bird bones and create the first early modern human ska bands.
(via Ars Technica)
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