17,000-year-old conch shell horn rediscovered in French museum

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Explaining the importance of the find
Explaining the importance of the find Credit: Natural History Museum of Toulouse

A LARGE conch shell that was found in an excavation of a cave containing prehistoric cave paintings in the French Pyrenees in 1931 was wrongly identified as a drinking vessel.

Since then, it has languished in the bowels of the Natural History Museum of Toulouse until archaeologists from the local university took a new look at it and suspected that it might be a musical instrument as there appeared to be certain man-made modifications to it.

Having dated the shell to the Magdalenian period (around 17,000 years ago), the researchers, according to their published report in journal Science Advances, needed to check their theory and hoping it wouldn’t shatter, persuaded a French Horn player to give it a blow.

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To their delight, not only did it make a sound but they recorded and analysed the noise, deciding that it produced three identifiable notes, C, C sharp and D.

What was considered to be a vaguely interesting drinking vessel has now been upgraded to what is probably the oldest existing seashell instrument in the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read this news article “17,000-year-old conch shell horn rediscovered in French museum”.






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