The Bone Flute: The Worlds Oldest Known Musical Instrument

What is a Bone Flute?

The bone flute is one of the oldest known musical instruments in Western Europe. These flutes carved from bone appear to be between 43,000 and 82,000 years old. Dr. Ivan Turk, a paleontologist from the Academy of Sciences in Ljubljana recently discovered a segment of an ancient bone flute at a Neanderthal campsite. This extraordinary find proves that the people of the Stone Age had developed expressions of musical creativity.  

The Workings of the Bone Flute

Many bone flutes have five holes, such as the bird-bone flute found scattered in a small plot of a cave in southern Germany. The second, third, and fourth hole that line up across the bone indicates that the instrument is indeed a flute. The distance between hole two and hole three is twice that of hole three and hole four. This merely means that the flute consists of a whole-tone and a half-tone within the scale. A combination of a whole-tone and half-tone make up a seven-note diatonic scale.