Neanderthal Flute from Slovenia

The find of Neanderthal bone flute by dr. Turk definitely changes the aspect of both music and culture as attributes of what is now known to define us as human species. These finds have moved the beginning of cultural history back to the period of Neanderthal culture, that is to about 45.000 years ago.

Although there was allegedly scientific dilemma whether this artifact was artificial (made by neanderthals) or organic (made by hyenas’ teeth) (1), the fact that it is tuned to what we now recognize as diatonic scale, makes it even more interesting than what was originally thought. As we are taught by the mainstream outlets of historical facts, diatonic scale was partially introduced by Sumerians and Babylonians.

Below video demonstrates some music played on the re-make of original flute of Divje babe, which is more than impressive and provides definite evidence, that neanderthal flute’s tuning to diatonic scale is not any coincidence. With each tone played by this simple instrument, all doubts about its purpose and source/origin disappear, requiring radical adjustments of established belief about the origins of diatonic scale and origins of human culture as well.

The find of a “Neanderthal flute” is certainly one of the archaeological discoveries in Slovenia to have excited the most interest and to have initiated the most debate. The find in question is the fruit of long-term archaeological-paleontological research in the cave of Divje babe I, in the Idrijca valley in western Slovenia. This 45 metre long, horizontal cave is only one of around 6500 Karst caves in the world-famous Slovene part of the Dinarid Karst and its underground. Many of these caves are archaeological sites, but few of them are 100.000 and more years old like the Paleolithic site of Divje babe I.

The pierced bone, that some still doubt of being a flute, was found in circumstances which do not allow any real doubt about its absolute (c. 45,000 years) or relative age (earlier than the Early Upper Paleolithic, Cro-Magnon man), nor about the possible archaeological context (Middle Paleolithic, Neanderthal man) in the framework of the European Paleolithic. This is despite the fact that Divje babe I is not classified in European terms as among the richest of Paleolithic sites (more than 600 archaeological finds in at least ten levels, the remains of 20 hearths, modest remains of hunted animals and enormous remains of cave bear). The site is thus essentially a combination of typical lair and graveyard of bear on the one hand, and a classical Paleolithic cave dwelling on the other, with a series of open questions about the activity of people at the site.

The flute from Divje babe is the oldest Paleolithic flute known to date worldwide and the only one that was definitely made by Neanderthals. It is at least 10,000 years older than other Paleolithic flutes, which are contemporaneous with the appearance of the anatomically modern people in Europe; fundamental evidence that the Neanderthals were, like us, fully developed spiritual beings capable of sophisticated artistic expression.

  2. The following link is an excellent text authored by Bob Fink, who helped scientifically prove the creation of Divje Babe flute. The interpretation of the Divje Babe bone as a human-made flute was soon disputed after the discovery and publishing of such find in the scientific world. The claim in papers by Francesco d’Errico et al (1998); April Nowell and Philip Chase (1998); and re-stated by Iain Morley (2006, 317-333), was that the object’s holes were caused by carnivore chewing damage. Those papers challenged the view (Fink 1997) that the hole spacings matched a diatonic scale sequence, among the most widespread scales known.

This link to the paper defends the flute interpretation and provides evidence Morley and others ignored.


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