The first musical instruments in Europe are 40,000 years old

The first musical instruments in Europe are 40,000 years old

The first modern human in Europe played musical instruments and showed his creative activity as long as 40,000 years, according to new research from the universities of Oxford and Tübingen.

Researchers have obtained important radiocarbon data of the bones found in the same archaeological layer as well as a great variety of musical instruments. The instruments are shaped like flutes made from bird bones and mammoth ivory. They were excavated in a key site in Germany which is believed to have been occupied by some of the first modern humans to come to Europe.

In a document published by the Journal of Human Evolution, the researchers describe dating results of animal bones, excavated in the same archaeological layer as instruments and early art, from the Geißenklösterle Cave in the Suabian Jura in southern Germany. Animal bones have hunting cuts and marksand human food.

The new data was obtained by Professor Tom Higham and his team at the University of Oxford using an improved ultrafiltration method to remove dirt from collagen preserved in the bones. Researchers that the Aurignacian, a culture that connects with early humans and that dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period, arrived at the site between ago 42,000-43,000 years.

The new dating evidence obtained from the bones at the site offers results that are of 2,000 or 3,000 years earlier than previously thought. So far, these data are the oldest of Aurignacian sites and predate those of Italy, France, England, and other regions.

The main author, Professor Higham of the University of Oxford, He says: "High-resolution dating of this type is essential to establish a reliable chronology for testing ideas that help explain the expansion of modern humans in Europe and the processes that led to the wide range of cultural innovations, including the emergence of figurative art and music”.

Professor Nick Conard from the University of Tübingen, who was an excavator at the site, says: “These results are consistent with a hypothesis we made many years ago as to whether the Danube River was a key pathway for human movement and technological innovations in central Europe some 40,000-45,000 years ago. Geißenklösterle is one of the many caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythological images, and musical instruments. The new data give a great antiquity to the Aurignacian in Swabia”.

Study results indicate that modern humans entered the upper Danube region before the extremely cold climatic phase of 40,000-39,000 years ago. Previously, the researchers discussed whether modern humans initially migrated down the Danube immediately after this event.

Modern humans during the Aurignacian period were in Central Europe at least 2,000-3,000 years before this climatic deterioration, when huge icebergs split from the North Atlantic and temperatures dropped dramatically.”, says Professor Higham. “The question is what effect this drop in temperatures could have had on the people of Europe at that time”.

Results are also important to consider the relationship between early moderns and Neanderthals in Europe. Despite the increased effort to identify archaeological signs or interaction between Neanderthals and modern humans in the region, researchers have yet to to identify signs of any cultural contact or miscegenation in this part of Europe.

The results suggest that the Danube Valley is a possible home for the Aurignacian, with the Swabian caves producing the first records of artistic and technological innovations that are characteristic of this period. The many innovations found in Swabia were stimulated by climatic conditions, competition between modern humans and Neanderthals, or by social and cultural influences that they formed independently being the central objective of the investigation.

Oxford university

Graduated in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was little I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.


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