Hohle Fels Flute

A dead vulture’s wing bone can turn into a musical instrument! Let’s learn about one of the oldest instruments in Germany!

The Hohle Fels flute is a Paleolithic flute that Aurignacian Culture made from a vulture’s wing bone 35,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Hohle Fels Flute and The Cave

Hohle Fels is a cave and an archaeological site in the Swabian Jura in southern Germany. Archaeologists started excavations in the cave in 1870. Back then, they found animal remnants. Amongst them, there were cave bears, reindeer, mammoths, and horses. Also, they found tools belonging to the Aurignacian culture of the Upper Paleolithic. It is one of the caves where Aurignacian culture left traces of early prehistoric artwork. Similarly, caves nearby including Vogelherd, Brillenhöhle, Geissenklösterle (or Geißenklösterle) and Hohlenstein-Stadel feature similar artwork. Also, these caves yielded the first expression of art in human history.

Hohle Fels Cave, Germany

Further excavations from 1958 to 1960, as well as, 1977, and 2002 yielded several prehistoric sculptures. Also, they discovered one of the oldest phallic representations in 2005. In 2008, Nicholas Conard and his team from the University of Tübingen discovered Venus of Hohle Fels. It was an artifact dated to about 35,000 to 40,000 years ago. It is one of the earliest Venus figurines and the earliest example of human figurative art. They also discovered the Hohle Fels flute in the cave.

As a result of its historical importance, in 2017, Hohle Fels became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura.

Hohle Fels Flute

Among the artifacts that they discovered in the cave, there was a bone flute from the Paleolithic. Aurignacian Culture had made it from a vulture’s wing bone by perforating it with finger holes. According to carbon dating, it was 35,000 to 40,000 years old.

Previously, scholars thought that the Hohle Fels flute was the oldest musical instrument in the world. But, in 2012, a carbon dating examination on Geissenklösterle flutes revealed that they are at least 42,000 years old. In conclusion Hohle Fels flute is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world.

Paleolithic Flute (Instrument)

What is so striking about this ancient wind instrument is how familiar it looks. With its finger holes and a notch in the shape of V, anyone can see it’s a tool for making music. It is just 8 millimeters (0.3 inc) wide and 34 centimeters (13 inches) long. Below you can watch a video of Wulf Hein’s performance on the replica of this flute.

Archaeologist Wulf Hein’s Performance on YouTube

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