Nearly 80 years after its discovery, a mountainous shell from the ornate Marsoulas Give scheme the Pyrenees has been studied by a multidisciplinary workforce from the CNRS, the Muséum de Toulouse, the Université Toulouse — Jean Jaurès and the Musée du quai Branly — Jacques-Chirac (1): it is believed to be the oldest wind instrument of its kind. Scientists point to how it sounds in a undercover agent published within the journal Science Advances on 10th February 2021.

The Marsoulas Cave, between Haute-Garonne and Ariège, became the first embellished cave to be point to within the Pyrenees. Found in 1897, the cave bears witness to the beginning of the Magdalenian (2) custom on this scheme, at the raze of the Final Glacial Most. One day of a record of the cloth from the archaeological excavations, most of which is kept within the Muséum de Toulouse, scientists examined a mountainous Charonia lampas (sea snail) shell, which had been largely no longer popular when found in 1931.

The tip of the shell is damaged, forming a 3.5 cm diameter opening. As right here is the toughest fragment of the shell, the ruin is clearly no longer unintended. At the opposite raze, the shell opening shows traces of retouching (reducing) and a tomography scan has revealed that one amongst the first coils is perforated. In a roundabout scheme, the shell has been embellished with a crimson pigment (hematite), characteristic of the Marsoulas Cave, which signifies its discipline as a symbolic object.

To substantiate the hypothesis that this conch became old to construct sounds, scientists enlisted the lend a hand of a horn player, who managed to construct three sounds shut to the notes C, C-piquant and D. Because the opening became irregular and lined with an natural coating (3), the researchers purchase that a mouthpiece became additionally linked, as is the case for more latest conches in collection of the Musée du quai Branly — Jacques Chirac. 3D impressions of the conch will allow this result in be explored and overview whether it will also be old to construct other notes.

The first carbon-14 relationship of the cave, utilized on a a part of charcoal and a fraction of endure bone from the same archaeological stage as the shell, equipped a date of around 18,000 years. This makes the Marsoulas conch the oldest wind instrument of its kind: up to now, perfect flutes possess been found in earlier European Better Palaeolithic contexts; the conches found originate air Europe are scheme more latest.

Besides immersing us within the sounds produced by our Magdalenian ancestors, this shell reinforces the theorem of exchanges between the Pyrenees and the Atlantic flit, more than 200 kilometres away.

Extra recordsdata:

– Eavesdrop on the sound of the Marsoulas conch:

– Gaze the 3D model:


(1) The laboratories concerned are the Travaux et recherches archéologiques sur les cultures, les espaces et les sociétés (CNRS/Université Toulouse — Jean Jaurès/Ministère de la Custom), the Maison des sciences de l’homme et de la société de Toulouse (CNRS/Université Fédérale de Toulouse) and the Laboratoire d’archéologie moléculaire et structurale (CNRS/Sorbonne Université).

(2) Retaining a duration between around 21,000 and 14,000 years BP, it is characterised by worked animal bones and antlers and broad commerce networks. The Altamira and Lascaux caves are basically the most famed examples.

(3) Because the amount is runt, analyses possess no longer been able to establish its nature.

Myth Provide:

Materials equipped by CNRS. Blow their personal horns: Boom would be edited for vogue and length.

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