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For the first time: 12,000-year-old tiny flutes have been discovered that imitate the sounds of predators

A new study published today (Fri) in the prestigious scientific magazine Nature Scientific Report suggests that tiny flutes made from the wing bones of waterfowl were used to produce sounds imitating the sounds of birds of prey

Demonstration of using a replica of the whistle. Photo by Lauren Dewin-
Demonstration of using a replica of the whistle. Photo by Lauren Dewin-

A new article by Dr. Laurent Davin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Hebrew University and the French Research Center in Jerusalem (CRFJ) and Dr. José-Miguel Tajero (University of Vienna, Austria and University of Barcelona, ​​Spain) published in the prestigious scientific magazine Nature Scientific Report, reveals that tools Rare 12,000-year-old sound-producing prehistoric ones, uncovered in the Hula Valley, were used as a kind of tiny flutes. .  They may have been used for hunting, music or some kind of communication with the birds.

The Einan-Ein Malacha site, located in the Hula Valley in the north of the country, was excavated from 1955 by French expeditions, and in 2005-1996 by a joint expedition of the French Center and the Antiquities Authority, led by Francois Walla from the French National Center for Research (CNRS) and Dr. Hammoudi Halaila from the Antiquities Authority. In the settlement of rounded buildings and the houses of the hunter-gatherers, bones of a variety of animals, including poultry, were found.

As part of the study of the material culture and burial offerings from the Einan-Malaha site from the final Natupian period (12,000 BC), Dr. Laurent Davin, a post-doctoral student at the Hebrew University and the French Research Center in Jerusalem (CRFJ) examined, among other things, the bones of birds found as part of the excavation. According to Prof. Tal Simmons (Virginia Commonwealth University) these are mainly wintering waterfowl with few predators. Dr. Davin noticed the markings on the seven tiny wing bones of common and songbirds. Together with Dr. José-Miguel Tajero (University of Vienna, Austria and University of Barcelona, ​​Spain), they investigated the nature of the marks and discovered that they were very tiny holes drilled on the surface of the bones, which are hollow by nature.

In order to establish how the instruments were used, the team of researchers, in collaboration with other researchers (Aurelia Bourbon and Olivier Torney (CNRS), created replicas of the original instruments. As part of an experiment performed on the replica, it was discovered that the instruments produced different sounds and it was concluded that they were flutes. When they compared the sound of the flute For the sounds of the dozens of bird species found in Ein-Malha, it was found that the sound of the flute is similar to that produced by birds of prey - common hawk and peregrine falcon.

One of the possibilities is that the flute holders were located near waterfowl. It can be assumed that the birds of prey, who heard the call of the whistle, came closer to the source of the sound - something that caused the waterfowl to fly in all directions, thus making it easier to catch them. In addition, it is likely that in the resulting chaos, the birds of prey themselves were also hunted, whose claws were used, among other things, as decoration - or to pierce bones and make additional whistles. It is also possible that the sounds produced by the flutes served in different roles in the social-cultural-symbolic fabric of the hunter-gatherers in Ein-Malha. This finding adds to further evidence of the complexity of the world

The sounds of the people of the Natopian culture according to Dana Shaham, a PhD student from the Hebrew University specializing in ancient art.

"One of the vessels is found intact, and as far as is known, it is unique in the world in its state of preservation," add Dr. Lauren Davin and Dr. Hamudi Halaila. "The copies prepared in his image made it possible to produce the sound, which may have been played by the hunter-gatherers 12 thousand years ago."

According to Dr. Halaila from the Antiquities Authority, "If the tool was indeed used for hunting, then this is the earliest evidence of sound production as a means of hunting. In most of the sites contemporaneous with Einan, these vessels are getting weathered, but fortunately they were discovered by careful and gentle water filtration of the findings. This discovery provides important new data concerning the ancient hunting methods, and joins the variety of prehistoric tools that characterize the beginning of the transition to agriculture and the domestication of plants and animals in the southern Levant." 

Prof. Rivka Rabinovitz, from the Institute of Archeology and Scientific Director of the Hebrew University's National Nature Collections, where the research on the animal remains from the Einan-Malha site is conducted, states: "The current research indicates how important it is to preserve the cultural assets uncovered during the excavations, which continue to yield insights and directions New research on human culture, both with innovative methods and in collaborations between researchers from different disciplines." Prof. Rabinowitz went on to say that "waterfowl are most common and are represented by all parts of the skeleton, while raptors are mainly represented by the claws. The flutes were found at the site in certain concentrations, as evidence of certain activity areas."

for the scientific article

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