The Story of a 17,000 Year Old Conch Shell Wind Instrument

Suara.com – Archaeologists have managed to derive an “almost perfect” tone from a wind instrument more than 17,000 years old.

The wind instrument is a conch shell found in a cave once inhabited by early humans in southern France, during the era of hunting and gathering.

This artifact is the oldest wind instrument of its kind ever found.

Until recently, only the flute made of bone was claimed to be the oldest musical instrument in the world.

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The findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

The artifact’s significance lies in its dot-like markings inside the shell.

It matches the artwork on the walls of the Marsoulas cave in the Pyrenees where the artifact was excavated in 1931.

“[Temuan] it establishes a strong link between the music played with the snail and the image, the representation on the wall, “explains Gilles Tosello of the University of Toulouse.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time we have been able to prove a connection between music and cave art in prehistoric Europe.”

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This conch shell is 31 cm long and 18 cm wide.

The shell was once home to living organisms, possibly the named cold-water snail in the Atlantic Ocean Charonia lampas.

The shell is thought to be a valuable object or gift because it was found 200 kilometers from the coastline where it was first collected or traded.

When the excavators at Marsoulas first saw the shell in the 1930s, they thought it was nothing more than a cup used for ceremonial events.

But analysis by a team led from France’s National Center for Scientific Research has changed that interpretation.

The scientists identified an intentional modification to increase the shell’s ability to make sounds.

These include a hole cut in one end of the shell that allows for funnel-like insertion, and a cut at the other that will make it easier to get a hand to modulate sound – in the same way that a French trumpeter changes pitch.

The team asked a professional musician to blow the conch, and to their delight the musician was able to produce notes that were close to C, C sharp and D.

“The intensity produced is incredible, about 100 decibels at one meter. And the sound is very directional to the axis of the shell opening,” said Philippe Walter of the Sorbonne University.

Image processing is used to study patterns painted on the inner surface of the shell openings.

This pattern, made with iron oxide (red ocher) pigment, takes the form of a fingerprint. Marsoulas cave walls have the same style.

The bison in the cave, for example, is made from 300 finger points.

The researchers then printed a 3D replica of the shell so they could further explore the musical abilities of the snail without risking damaging the original artifact.

The Upper Paleolithic people who possessed these shells were part of what archaeologists call the Magdalenian tradition, which is well known for its specialized approach to toolmaking and the use of bones, horns and ivory.

It is known that communities in the Pyrenees also interact with communities in Cantabria, who live in southern Spain. This snail strengthens this connection.

“The sound of the snail is directly related to the Magdalenians,” said Carole Fritz of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).


Source: Suara.com – Kumpulan Kabar Berita Terkini Yang Terbaru Hari Ini by www.suara.com.

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