Flute Babe Divje, Slovenia

Flute Babe Divje
The Flute Divje Babe is a femur cave bear various holes and discovered in the archaeological park Divje Babe near Idrija in northwestern Slovenia. It is believed that the object is actually a flute Paleolithic and could be the oldest musical instrument known although this version is sometimes disputed. The object would be about 45 000 years is visible at the National Museum of Slovenia (Narodni Muzej Slovenije), Ljubljana.

Divje Babe is the oldest archaeological site in Slovenia. There is a cave 45 meters long and 15 meters meters wide. The cave is accessible to the public, is located 230 meters above the river near Idrijca Cerkno Slovenia. Archaeologists have discovered more than 600 relics including 20 homes and skeletons of cave bears. They were able to study climate change during the Pleistocene. According to the museum that houses the flute, the place was already inhabited at the time of the Neanderthal, there are about 55 000 years.

In 1995, Ivan Turk discovered in a cave bear femur pierced old to about 43 000 years. Because of its form, it will give him the name "Neanderthal Flute".

However, the fact that the femur is a flute made by Neanderthal Man is subject to debate. The femur is broken at each end. The bone has two holes in the whole center and two holes at the incomplete level of broken ends. The bone, which is the diaphysis of a femur bears two years old, had thus at least four holes before being damaged. The fragment measuring 113.6 mm and the diameters of the two holes are full of 9 and 9.7 mm. The centers of the holes are separated by 35 mm. Some, however, suggest that taphonomic holes have actually been made by teeth of a carnivore that would have bitten the bone and gnawed its two ends.

If the object was actually a flute, it would mean that the music goes back at least 43 000 years and that the Neanderthal was the first musician. Knowing that the holes were made by humans or animals is crucial. Scientists have not yet been able to prove the origin of these holes. Despite the uncertainties, the bone has become one of the attractions of the Museum of Ljubljana Slovenia and is a source of pride for the country. Copies of the subject have been conducted and Jelle Atema musicians as well have been playing with a reproduction of the flute in public.

Indices and Uncertainties
Scientists have compared the bones with other bones of cave bears found in other caves where no human presence has been detected. They published photos and other bones also had holes whose size was more or less identical with those of Divje babe. Their conclusions were that it was possible to have similar holes in bones without this having a relationship with humans. The conclusion of the study said that the holes were not evidence enough to say it was a flute made by man.

Ivan Turk realized his side several laboratory experiments with animal bones recently died. It simulated pressure teeth of a carnivore on them and each time the bone broke completely and did not simply holes in the bone. These results tend to prove that the holes were not made by carnivores because if the bone is completely broken. In addition, the side opposite the hole of the bone has no marks. However, pressure from upper and lower jaw of an animal should have left traces on each side while the animal biting the bone. The shape of the holes is rather circular, while those made by a bite are generally more oval. Moreover, the size of the holes is similar to that of most flutes made of bones. A study by a scanner and published in 2005, proves that the holes in the bone were made before the bone is damaged and thus before the destruction of bone (a carnivore). The National Museum of Slovenia where the bone is preserved said that evidence that the bone is a flute and not from the teeth marks of a carnivore. According to the museum, it is indeed a gift Neanderthal flute.

The presence of remains of bone marrow in the bone is important because it is necessary to remove when you want to sound with a bone. Ivan Turk explains (in the monograph Moussterian Bone Flute, p. 160) that the bone has been emptied of its marrow. The interior of the bone has the same color as the outside which also proves this fact. Scientists are skeptical, however. They believe that the ends have been eaten by a carnivore (eg wolves) and that it could suck the marrow inside the bone.

The spacing between the holes shows that they have been trained at the same time by an animal as any animal known to have a jaw that can make these holes. But they may have been made in several successive bites. The spacing does not give more credit to a solution rather than another. The holes are aligned so that the other bones found with bite marks are not aligned holes. Marcel Otte, director of the Museum of Prehistory at the University of Liege (Belgium) in 2000 published an article saying that discovered the hole on the opposite side of the bone was positioned at the right place for him and the 4 Other holes are in the right place relative to the position of the five fingers of a man.

Bob Fink published a study saying that the four holes were very well positioned to create the sounds Do, Re, Mi, Fa. Other scientists believe that the bones of a bear two years could not be large enough before it was destroyed that to make any sounds. Moreover, unlike other bone flutes latest, we find no marks on the bones indicate that it was worked by tools. A 2000 study indicates, however, that the probability of having four holes aligned and spaced correctly as only one chance in several million.

All these elements, although they tend towards the hypothesis of the flute, however, are not sufficient for the entire scientific community favors this hypothesis and bone Divje babe is still a mystery.

Read also Musical instrument


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