June 26, 2009


A 35,000 year-old bone flute found by archeologists in southwest Germany is the world's oldest known musical instrument, the Nature Journal said.

The flute, made from a vulture wing bone, is about 21 cm long and 8 mm wide, and has five holes and a notched end. It was found by a team of scientists led by University of Tuebingen archaeologist Nicholas Conard in the Hohle Fels cavern to the west of the city of Ulm last year. Along with the flute, scientists also found fragments of two other flutes made of ivory, presumably from a mammoth tusk.

An ivory flute fragment was also found during excavations at another site, some 25 km northwest of Ulm.

"The modern humans that came into our area already had a whole range of symbolic artifacts, figurative art, depictions of mythological creatures, many kinds of personal ornaments and also a well-developed musical tradition," Professor Conard was quoted as saying.

The Hohle Fels cavern made headlines in May after the same team discovered a female ivory figure, possibly the world's oldest human figure carving. Other discoveries included animal carvings and a stone object that archeologists say could be a prehistoric "sex toy."

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