About that 5,200-year old animation: Was there a musical score to accompany it?
Certainly flutes could have provided accompaniment: Research establishes that several neolithic bone flutes found in China are 7,000 to 9,000 years old.
A 1999 release from the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) discussed the dating of the flutes:
Recent excavations at the early Neolithic site of Jiahu, located in Henan province, China, have yielded six complete bone flutes between 7,000 and 9,000 years old. Fragments of approximately 30 other flutes were also discovered. The flutes may be the earliest complete, playable, tightly-dated, multinote musical instruments.
Garman Harbottle, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and member of the Jiahu research team, helped analyze data from carbon-14 dating done in China on materials taken from the site. “Jiahu has the potential to be one of the most significant and exciting early Neolithic sites ever investigated,” said Harbottle. “The carbon dating was of crucial importance to my Chinese colleagues in establishing the age of the site and the relics found within it.”
These flutes were found in modern China, and the bowl with the jumping goat images was found in modern Iran. The spread of technology may have worked on a millennial time scale then. Did the flute technology cover the approximately 3,500 miles between the sites, in the 3,000 to 4,000 years in between their creation?
At least two .wav files exist of one of the flutes being played (here, and here), again from BNL; the actual tunes the flute creators played, we do not know, ASCAP and BMI did not protect the publication of the tunes.
What other astounding archaeological finds are out there, relatively unpublicized?
- “The Early Development of Music: Analysis of the Jiahu bone flutes,” Antiquity, 2004 paper by Juzhong Zhang, one of the lead discoverers of the bones. Zhang has also done work on early beer making — beer, music, images, it seems the ancients lacked for very little.
- Letter to Nature, “Oldest playable musical instruments found at Jiahu early Neolithic site in China,” Nature 401, 366-368 (23 September 1999) | ; Received 15 February 1999; Accepted 30 July 1999