Ancient Flute: Discovered

In China, archeologists have been working to unearth the remains of an ancient village. Among the artifacts they’ve found thus far is what may be one of the oldest playable musical instruments in the world. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

We’re listening to the sounds of a traditional Chinese folk song being played on a flute that’s thought to be nine-thousand-years old. Garman Harbottle is senior scientist emeritus at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York.

“What miracle of soil chemistry led to this, I can’t tell you. The flute is about eight inches long. It’s made from the wing bone of a red-crowned crane. It’s a beautiful, big bird. It stands about three-feet high. The leading edge of the wing is a hollow bone. And if you find a dead bird or can get one of these bones, then you just have to bore some holes in it and you have a flute. ”

The flute was found in a site that was once a thriving Chinese village, somewhere between 7,000 and 5,700 BC. Although archeologists discovered the site in 1962, less than five-percent of the area has been excavated. So far, six preserved flutes, and pieces of thirty others have been found, along with the remains of houses, pottery kilns and graves.

The archeologists now want to now make exact replicas of the flutes, using a material that approximates bird’s bone. They can then play the flutes without having to worry about damaging priceless artifacts.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Ancient Flute: Discovered

Archeologists in China may have discovered one of the oldest playable instruments in the world.
Air Date:03/30/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

In China, archeologists have been working to unearth the remains of an ancient village. Among the artifacts they've found thus far is what may be one of the oldest playable musical instruments in the world. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

We're listening to the sounds of a traditional Chinese folk song being played on a flute that's thought to be nine-thousand-years old. Garman Harbottle is senior scientist emeritus at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York.

"What miracle of soil chemistry led to this, I can't tell you. The flute is about eight inches long. It's made from the wing bone of a red-crowned crane. It's a beautiful, big bird. It stands about three-feet high. The leading edge of the wing is a hollow bone. And if you find a dead bird or can get one of these bones, then you just have to bore some holes in it and you have a flute. "

The flute was found in a site that was once a thriving Chinese village, somewhere between 7,000 and 5,700 BC. Although archeologists discovered the site in 1962, less than five-percent of the area has been excavated. So far, six preserved flutes, and pieces of thirty others have been found, along with the remains of houses, pottery kilns and graves.

The archeologists now want to now make exact replicas of the flutes, using a material that approximates bird's bone. They can then play the flutes without having to worry about damaging priceless artifacts.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.