The World's Oldest Instruments Found?

A team of scientists from Oxford University has uncovered what they believe to be the oldest musical instruments in the world.

Flutes made from bird bone and mammoth ivory have been discovered in Geissenkloesterle Cave in Germany's Swabian Jura. Using carbon dating techniques, the team – led by Professor Tom Higham – has estimated that the rudimentary instruments are between 42,000 to 43,000 years old. 

Professor Nick Conrad, an excavator at the site who’d identified the previous oldest instrument in the world, said of the find: "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. 

"Geissenkloesterle is one of several caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments.” 

It is believed that the instruments were used for recreational and/or religious purposes. 

It has also been hypothesized that music gave homo sapiens an advantage over the Neanderthals who eventually died out in Europe around 30,000 years ago.


Picture: University of Tübingen