Practically 80 years after its discovery, a big shell from the elaborate Marsoulas Collapse the Pyrenees has actually been studied by a multidisciplinary group from the CNRS, the Muséum de Toulouse, the Université Toulouse– Jean Jaurès and the Musée du quai Branly– Jacques-Chirac (1 ): it is thought to be the earliest wind instrument of its type. Researchers expose how it sounds in a research study released in the journal Science Advances on 10th February 2021.
The Marsoulas Cavern, in between Haute-Garonne and Ariège, was the very first embellished cavern to be discovered in the Pyrenees. Found in 1897, the cavern attests to the start of the Magdalenian (2) culture in this area, at the end of the Last Glacial Optimum. Throughout a stock of the product from the historical excavations, the majority of which is kept in the Muséum de Toulouse, researchers analyzed a big Charonia lampas (sea snail) shell, which had actually been mainly ignored when found in 1931.
The idea of the shell is broken, forming a 3.5 cm size opening. As this is the hardest part of the shell, the break is plainly not unexpected. At the opposite end, the shell opening reveals traces of retouching (cutting) and a tomography scan has actually exposed that a person of the very first coils is perforated. Lastly, the shell has actually been embellished with a red pigment (hematite), attribute of the Marsoulas Cavern, which shows its status as a symbolic item.
To verify the hypothesis that this conch was utilized to produce noises, researchers got the assistance of a horn gamer, who handled to produce 3 noises near to the notes C, C-sharp and D. As the opening was irregular and covered with a natural covering (3 ), the scientists presume that a mouth piece was likewise connected, as holds true for more current conches in collection of the Musée du quai Branly– Jacques Chirac. 3D impressions of the conch will allow this cause be checked out and confirm whether it can be utilized to produce other notes.
The very first carbon-14 dating of the cavern, performed on a piece of charcoal and a piece of bear bone from the very same historical level as the shell, offered a date of around 18,000 years. This makes the Marsoulas conch the earliest wind instrument of its type: to date, just flutes have actually been found in earlier European Upper Palaeolithic contexts; the conches discovered outside Europe are a lot more current.
In addition to immersing us in the noises produced by our Magdalenian forefathers, this shell enhances the concept of exchanges in between the Pyrenees and the Atlantic coast, more than 200 kilometres away.
– Listen to the noise of the Marsoulas conch: https://soundcloud.com/cnrs_officiel/marsoulas-shell-conch-sound/s-234KE5bFZO1
– See the 3D design: https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/triton-700k-0bddff3405144c7b8f91f902e28bcc9b
( 1) The labs included are the Travaux et recherches archéologiques sur les cultures, les espaces et les sociétés (CNRS/Universit é Toulouse– Jean Jaurès/ Ministère de la Culture), the Maison des sciences de l’homme et de la société de Toulouse (CNRS/Universit é Fédérale de Toulouse) and the Laboratoire d’archéologie moléculaire et structurale (CNRS/Sorbonne Université).
( 2) Covering a duration in between around 21,000 and 14,000 years BP, it is characterised by worked animal bones and antlers and comprehensive exchange networks. The Altamira and Lascaux caverns are the most well-known examples.
( 3) As the amount is restricted, analyses have actually not had the ability to determine its nature.
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