We doubt that it was an accident where a man drops a rock onto someone’s foot and love the beautiful scream that comes out that lead to the creation of music. Basically, it probably wasn’t like how Mel Brooks depicted it in History of the World Part One. Still, music appears to be a lot older than most people thought. In fact, it appears that humans may have been playing bone flutes some 40,000 years ago.
Researchers studying a settlement of modern homo sapiens called Geißenklösterle in the Swabian caves system in southern Germany came across one bone flute made from mammoth ivory and another made from bird bones. They also found perforated teeth, ornaments and stone tools at that site.
Nick Conrad of Tubingen University stated “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 and 45,000 years ago. Geißenklösterle is one of several caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments. The new dates prove the great antiquity of the Aurignacian in Swabia.”
The Aurignacians were an ancient stone tool using culture. The flutes are the associated with the Aurignacian period, and are the earliest record of technological and artistic innovation. Carbon 14 dating points to a more exact date of between 42,000 and 43,000 years of age for the flutes. This would mean that the Aurignacians entered the Upper Danube region before a massive outbreak of cold weather around 39,000 to 40,000 years ago.
According to Tom Higham of Oxford University “Modern humans during the Aurignacian period were in central Europe at least 2,000 to 3,000 years before this climatic deterioration, when huge icebergs calved from ice sheets in the northern Atlantic and temperatures plummeted. The question is what effect this downturn might have had on the people in Europe at the time.”