New Neanderthal Musical Instrument

Glenn R. Morton (
Fri, 17 Jul 1998 22:52:32 -0500

While I thought I had done as thorough a literature search as I could last
year looking for paleolithic musical instruments, I missed this one. In
1976 in a quarry at Schulensbroek, Belgium paleolithic tools and
anthropomorphically altered bones were discovered from a layer 10 m below
the surface. The stone tools are of Charentian affinity and indicate an age
of between 50 and 40 kyr ago. Along with the stone tools was found a
peculiar engraved mammoth bone. The bone was engraved with parallel lines.
I will draw what they look like in cross section:


The author describes this as follows:

"Within the triangular area formed by the specimen's right edge and the
oblique transverse fracture, a series of incised parallel to subparallel
grooves are visible. Because of the intense wear near the point their
original number is difficult to establish. At least twelve grooves are
fairly readily distinguishable. The anthropic origin of these marks is
beyond dowbt. They are in no way similar to the irregular carnivore
gnawing traces that have been observed on bone material from recent hyena
lairs and archaeological sites. Their antiquity is indicated by the
presence of firmly embedded iron oxide in several of the groove
depressions. On the ridges betweent he lower four or five grooves an
intense gloss is visible which has obviously been caused by rubbing over
the protruding ribs. Where the artefact tapers to a point these ribs have
almost effaced. Significantly, there is no gloss present in the grooves,
but some of them display in their cenre multiple cutting scratches parallel
to the direction of the grooves. This seems to indicate that the grooves
ere foremed by cutting into the bone transversely." ~ Dirk Huyge,
"Mousterian Skiffle? Note on a Middle Palaeolithic Engraved bone from
Schulen, Belgium," Rock Art Research, 7(1990):2:125-133 p. 128-129

The use of the object is believed to have been as a musical rasp or
'skiffle' in which a stick was rubbed across the grooves to make a noise.

"Indeed the well-formed groove pattern endows the object with some
resemblance to a certain type of musical instrument, a rasp or scraper.
The rasp is a primitive idiophonic instrument with a corrugated surface
that is scraped rhythmically by a non-sonorous object to produce sounds.
Striking the parallel grooves of the Schulen bone with a rigid instrument,
such as a wooden rod or a bone plectrum, indeed produces a stridulous
sound. However, if the object was indeed used for producing sound in this
way, that sound would almost certainly differed from theo one it can
produce today. The alteration of the shape of the obne and its
fossilisation may have profoundly changed its acoustic characteristics.
"Rasps or scrapers are well-known instruments, both from
archaeological and ethnographic sources. Their distribution is almost
world-wide. In its simplest form the rasp consists of a notched stone,
bone, shell or gourd, which is scrapped with a stick or other rigid object,
the sound being increased in some instances by placing the instrument over
a hole in the ground. It may be considered, together with the flute, the
lithophone and the bullroarer, as one of the earliest musical instruments
known to man." ~ Dirk Huyge, "Mousterian Skiffle? Note on a Middle
Palaeolithic Engraved bone from Schulen, Belgium," Rock Art Research,
7(1990):2:125-133 p. 1130-131

In modern societies,

"The use of the scraper is intimately linked with hunting magic, erotic
rituals and funeral ceremonies. One may ask whether the magical uses of the
instrument could have their origins as far back as the Palaeolithic
period." ~ Dirk Huyge, "Mousterian Skiffle? Note on a Middle Palaeolithic
Engraved bone from Schulen, Belgium," Rock Art Research, 7(1990):2:125-133
p. 131

The time period from which this object comes is prior to the time that
anatomically modern man entered western Europe. This would imply that this
was, like the flute at Divje Babe, Slovenia, a neanderthal instrument.
So, it would appear that this possible instrument can be added to the
increasing list of Neanderthal musical instruments. The phalange whistles
found at Prolom II dating from almost 100,000 years ago are the oldest
musical instruments in the world.

Apologists who want to exclude Neanderthal from the human race by having
Adam be a late entrant to the world, leave Christianity with no explanation
of these types of increasingly common objects or the behaviors that were
required to make them.

Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information