Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Human evolution: Oldest hand-crafted flute so far is 35,000 years old

The pieces of the ancient flute
comprise a 22-centimetre instrument with five holes and a notched end. Conard said the flute is 35,000 years old.

“It’s unambiguously the oldest instrument in the world,” said Conard. His findings were published online Wednesday by the journal Nature.

Other archeologists agreed with Conard’s assessment.
Well, that's reassuring.

The Hohle Fels flute is more complete and appears slightly older than bone and ivory fragments from seven other flutes recovered in southern German caves and documented by Conard and his colleagues in recent years.
Now, here's the interesting part:
Roebroeks said it’s difficult to say how cognitively and socially advanced these people were. But the physical trappings of their lives — including musical instruments, personal decorations and figurative art — match the objects we associate with modern human behaviour, he said.

“It shows that from the moment that modern humans enter Europe ... it is as modern in terms of material culture as it can get,” Roebroeks said.
That's the thing about the evolution of human culture. It never actually seems to happen. Someone just makes a flute and starts playing it, and soon every tribe has a flute.

A bit like the history of mathematics, I suppose. Someone just invents an idea like the Pythagorean theorem or zero, and everyone just picks up from there.

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