Millenary flutes with bird bones

These are the oldest wind instruments found in the Middle East. They are millenary flutes with bird bones. They imitated the sound of birds of prey.

The find was made in northern Israel. It was announced by a team of French and Israeli archaeologists on Nature Scientific Report. The site is about 16 kilometers north of the Sea of Galilee and is called Eynan.

Millenary flutes with bird bones were found in Israel.
Millenary flutes with bird bones were found in Israel.

The oldest flute

There used to be a lake there that was home to many birds. The humans who settled in Eynan consumed them in large quantities. Now piles of bird bones have been found all over the area. Some of these, hollow in nature, had holes carved in them. This turned them into small flutes.

Postdoctoral researcher Laurent Davin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem studied the bones. He found that the holes were distributed at very regular intervals. They were clearly man-made.

“One of the flutes was discovered in its entirety. It is the only flute in the world in such a state of preservation,” noted Davin. A replica of the flute was created. The sounds produced by those humans 12,000 years ago could be heard.

“We heard what people would have heard 12,000 years ago,” the expert stated. He comments on it in the publication of the article.

Other flutes

Professor Rivka Rabinovich believes that the instrument would have been used for communication, hunting or music. She supposes that the bones were chosen expressly to imitate local bird calls.

According to The Times of Israela total of seven 12,000-year-old coot wing bones were used for flutes. These flutes are the oldest instruments found in the Near East, but they are not the oldest found on Earth. In 2008, archaeologists in southern Germany found others. They were flutes made from vulture bones and mammoth ivory that were about 40,000 years old. Millennia-old flutes made from bird bones have a very long human tradition.

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