The world’s oldest musical instrument

Ever wonder what a 40,000-year-old instrument might sound like?

Experimental archaeologist Wulf Hein was part of a 1992 excavation team that explored southwestern Germany — in particular, the Geißenklösterle cave. In Werner Herzog’s The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Hein (dressed in reindeer fur and leather) explains what they discovered:

“One of the most important finds we made in this cave was a very tiny flute made out of the radius of a vulture. [It is} astonishing that this flute is pentatonic. This is the same tonality that we are used to hearing today.”

Hear a demonstration of the flute (including an excerpt of a well-known tune) in the clip below, courtesy of Hein.

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