This 40,000-year-old flute sounds truly haunting and otherworldly

19 August 2016, 16:42 | Updated: 20 January 2017, 11:14

By Tim Edwards

43,000 years ago, our ancestors were already proficient on the flute. But what does a prehistoric instrument made from a vulture bone sound like?

It’s comforting to know that during the long, cold winters of the last ice age, Germans were able to enjoy the uplifting music of the flute.

The oldest known flutes in the world are from caves in southwestern Germany and have been dated to 43,000 years ago, when a glacier 2.5km thick sat atop the Alps.

In the video below, experimental archaeologist Wulf Hein - in period costume of reindeer furs - demonstrates a flute made from the bone of a vulture’s wing. It was found in the Geißenklösterle cave.

The video is a clip from the documentary The Cave of Forgotten Dreams by unconventional filmmaker Werner Herzog.

Man plays world's oldest flute