Divje Babe Flute

Flûte paléolithique (musée national de Slovénie, Ljubljana) (9420310527).jpg
The Divje Babe Flute is a cave bear femur pierced by spaced holes that was found in 1995 at the Divje Babe archeological park located near Cerkno in northwestern Slovenia. It has been suggested that it was made by Neanderthals as a form of musical instrument, its hole spacing and alignment leading to its being labeled a "Neanderthal flute". Slovenian archeologist Mitja Brodar, however, argues that it was made by Cro-Magnons as an element of Central European Aurignacian culture. A form of flute, it is possibly the world's oldest known musical instrument. Despite alternative hypotheses suggesting it was formed by animals, the artifact remains on prominent public display in the National Museum of Slovenia in Ljubljana as a Neanderthal flute.

Divje Babe is the oldest known archaeological site in Slovenia. The site is the location of a horizontal cave, 45 metres (148 ft) long and up to 15 metres (49 ft) wide. It is located 230 m (750 ft) above the Idrijca River, near Cerkno, and is accessible to visitors. Researchers working at this site have uncovered more than 600 archaeological items in at least ten levels, including 20 hearths, the skeletal remains of cave bears and have studied climate change during the Pleistocene. According to the museums statements, the presumed flute has been associated with the "end of the middle Pleistocene" and Neanderthals, about 55,000 years ago.

In the 1920s and 1930s, archaeologist Srečko Brodar discovered tens of bones with holes at another site, the Potok Cave (Slovene: Potočka zijalka) in the Eastern Karawanks, but almost all of them were destroyed during the World War II Italian annexation. Of those still preserved, the best known is a mandible of a cave bear with three holes in the mandibular canal.

Since World War II, specimens have also been found in the Mokrica Cave (Slovene: Mokriška jama), Betal Rock Shelter (Betalov spodmol). These bones are preserved today at the National History Museum of Slovenia in Ljubljana. According to archaeologist Mitja Brodar, who discovered many of them, bones with holes so far not been found in Western Europe and they have been dated only to the end of the Mousterian and the beginning of the Aurignacian. Mitja Brodar assumes that these bones are still not recognized by the international research community due to the fact that most of the bones were found in France and the Paleolithic is still considered to be the French domain. Another bone point with a hole was found in the Potok Cave. According to Brodar, such holes are an element of the Central European Aurignacian. They have been ascribed to modern human Cro-Magnon. According to Brodar, the Divje Babe Flute is as well a product of modern humans, but this has been disputed by other Slovene scholars.

In 1995, Ivan Turk found the approximately 43,100 year old cave bear femur at the Divje Babe site near a Mousterian hearth. Because it has the characteristics of a flute he has dubbed it a Neanderthal flute. Whether it is actually a flute created by Neanderthals is a subject of debate. It is broken at both ends, and has two complete holes and what may be the incomplete remains of one hole on each end, meaning that the bone may have had four or more holes before being damaged. The bone fragment is the diaphysis of the left femur of a one to two year old cave bear and is 133.6 mm (5.26 in) long. The maximum diameter of the two complete holes is 9.7 mm (0.38 in) and 9.0 mm (0.35 in). The distance between the centers of the holes is 35 mm (1.38 in).

If the bone is indeed a usable flute it would be an argument for the existence of music at 43,000 years ago. Thus Ivan Turk has asserted that whether the holes are of "artificial" (made by man) or "natural" (punctures from a carnivore bite) origin is the "crucial question.". An equally critical issue is that if the holes in this "flute" are of artificial origin (i.e., "man-made"), to date there does not seem to be any available means to prove that they were deliberately drilled 43,000 years ago, or are of a more contemporary origin (as part of an elaborate "hoax", perhaps).

This page was last edited on 7 May 2018, at 10:07.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divje_Babe_flute under CC BY-SA license.

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