12,000-year-old bone flutes sound like birds of prey: study-Xinhua

12,000-year-old bone flutes sound like birds of prey: study

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-06-10 05:36:45

JERUSALEM, June 9 (Xinhua) -- A new study has found that human ancestors living in nowadays Hula Valley, northern Israel, would probably play bird bone flutes to attract prey in hunting, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Friday.

The study, published in the journal Nature Scientific Report, analyzed some previously found waterfowl wing bones and realized they are bone flutes, which can date back 12,000 years. These tiny flutes can produce sounds that mimic the calls of predatory birds.

Researchers from Israel, Austria, the United States, and France revealed that the objects, discovered in Hula Valley, were probably used in music, or to grasp the attention of waterfowl, which probably makes it the earliest evidence of the use of sound in hunting, according to IAA.

The objects were found at the Natufian prehistoric settlement site Ain Mallaha, also known as Eynan, where circular structures, homes of hunter-gatherers, and bones of various animal species were found in excavations between 1996 and 2005.

After examining excavated waterfowl bones, the team discovered that the marks on seven tiny wing bones of Eurasian coots and Eurasian teals are minute holes bored into the hollow bones.

The team then created replicas of the objects and found that the instruments produce different sounds, concluding that they are flutes. Furthermore, the replicas' sounds resembled those of the Eurasian sparrowhawk and the common kestrel, both birds of prey.

The team said that waterfowl could be easily hunted using these flutes. Birds of prey attracted by the mimicking sound would approach and stir up flocks of waterfowl, making it easier for humans to catch them.

This way, it was also possible to catch the birds of prey when they were confused by the flute sounds, and use their claws for ornaments and to produce new whistles.

It is also possible that the flute sounds served different social-cultural-symbolic functions for the hunter-gatherers in the settlement, the researchers concluded.