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June 25, 2009
35,000 year old flute find underscores music's importance


Yesterday, it was announced that archeologists have discovered a flute dated at 35,000 years old.

The announcement, which was published online by the journal Nature, couldn't be more timely.

Why is that, do you say?

Because it states the case that music was an important and integrated part of the lives of primitive humans, and even Neanderthals.

The flute, whose discovery was led by archeologist Nicholas Conrad from the University of Tuebingen, was found in the Hohle Fels cave area of Southern Germany.

The flute was made from griffon vulture bone. Initially, 12 pieces were scattered in the cave, prompting Conrad to rebuild a replica of the flute.

The replica proved eminently playable.

Other artistic artifacts were also discovered in the cave, suggesting that artistic endeavors were no minor concern at the time.

For times like ours, where orchestras and opera companies are cutting back seasons or shuttering doors for good, this discovery speaks volumes about why we should value the arts in dark economic times.

It can be argued that if valuing music was important to early humans and Neanderthals, shouldn't it be doubly important for the "enlightened" homo sapien of the 21st century?

But you wouldn't know it by looking at the state's public school music programs or the scant funds the U.S. government allocates to the arts in the NEA budget.

And that suggests this troubling thought: perhaps we're not nearly as evolved as we think we are.

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