As disturbing as it sounds, the pierced bones found in an ancient settlement in northern Israel may be the oldest wind instruments found in the region.
After seeing how human bones can turn black, research published in Scientific Reportsdemonstrates how the “little flutes” they could have been used to make musiccall birds or even communicate over short distances using codes.
Laurent Davin, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and lead researcher on the study, says the tools they have been brought to light from the remains of small stone dwellings located near the shore of the lake called Eynan-Mallaha, which housed the last hunters of the region until about 12,000 years ago.
The results of the various microscopic analyzes of the instruments show how the finger holes were carved by humans. Therefore, any intervention by rodents or various predators must be absolutely excluded.
Also, all flutes they were carved directly from the wing bones of birds who spent the winter months at the lake. Of the seven flutes found, the largest appears to be intact and is about 63 millimeters long, decorated with red ocher and with a worn spot from which it may have been hung by a cord or leather strap.
Luckily these are not the bones of 100 infants, yet not happy with the finds, Davin and his team used the wing bone of a mallard to make a detailed response of the ancient flute.
When played, the instrument produced high-pitched sounds similar to the calls of the common kestrel and the Eurasian sparrowhawk, increasing the possibility that the tools were used to attract birds. Indeed, evidence suggests that the inhabitants of Eynan-Mallaha used the claws of these birds of prey as tools and may have worn them as ornaments, say the researchers.