In a combined effort by researchers from England’s Oxford University and Germany’s University of Tubingen, they have determined the age of the world’s oldest musical instrument found in a Southern Germany cave to date back to more than 40,000 years.
The instrument considered to be a flute, is made of mammoth ivory and bird bones. It was found in the Geibenklosterle Cave in the Swabian Jura area. The cave and area is “widely believed to have been occupied by some of first modern humans to arrive in Europe.”
The Journal of Human Evolution, reported on the find and explained the way the age of the flute was determined. Professor Tom Higham, of Oxford used “improved ultrafiltration method designed to remove contamination from the collagen preserved in the bones.”
The dating has established that the Aurignacian, a “culture linked with early modern humans and dating to the Upper Paleolithic period,” began 2,000 to 3,000 years earlier than originally thought, 42,000 and 43,000 years ago. The Geibenklosterle Cave site predates are the “earliest for the Aurignacian and predate equivalent sites from Italy, France, England and other regions.”
“Geißenklösterle is one of several caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments,” said excavator Dr. Nick Conard of the University of Tübingen.
The dating of the flute would place the first humans in the area prior to a significant climate change in where temperatures drastically dropped.
“These results are consistent with a hypothesis we made several years ago that the Danube River was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations into central Europe between 40,000-45,000 years ago,” according to Nick Conard, one of the researchers involved with the excavation.