EpISODE 33 THe Dawn of Music

HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips


TYPE- History




BUMPER MUSIC- "The Dawn of Music" (Area 47 Music)

ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe


In the beginning, before written history, our ancestors left artifacts and paintings that gave us clues as to how they once lived. This being a few million years ago, one can only speculate on how or why they began to experiment with sound and eventually music!



The period of time we will be covering is known as the prehistoric era (pre-written history). Our ancestors were making tools with stones. These ancestors were referred to as homo habilis or

"handy man".


-Old Stone Age (Paleolithic Era)

c. 2,000,000 BCE - 8000 BCE.

During this time our ancestors were hunting and gathering. Within the earlier part of this period, homo erectus (man who walks upright) emerged.


-60,000 B.C.E. - 30,000 B.C.E.

People began to take an interest in art (cave paintings, clay figures). They may have also began to experiment with sound.


-New Stone Age (Neolithic Era)

c. 8000 B.C.E. - 3500 B.C.E.

During this time our ancestors had finally learned to settle down via agriculture! The first civilizations began to make permanent settlement on the fertile land surrounding some of the rivers (such as the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia). This was happening all over the world. Now that man has settled, they can develop community and possibly some form or notion of entertainment. Now, perhaps they are making sounds for their enjoyment.


In 2008, archaeologists in the Ach Valley of South Germany, made a remarkable discovery in the Hohle Fels Caves. In this cave they found an almost complete flute made from a bone. This was the radius (forearm equivalent) of the griffon vulture.

The 12 pieces of the whistle were all found within a little over a square ft area. It was 22 cm in length and 8mm in diameter. It had five holes and there were two V shaped notches carved into the part of the instrument that appears to be the mouth piece.


The same excavations revealed what appeared to be two smaller ivory flutes. This was a much more complicated process than that of the bone whistle. This involved carving a cylindrical shape out of a naturally curved tusk, splitting it and carving out the center. Dating methods have determined these finds to be over 35,000 years old. This occurred way before the dawn of agriculture and finally civilization.


Some scientist suggest that at the music played a role in improving social cohesion and communication which led to the expansion of the modern human civilizations, compared to Neanderthal populations.





Ancient Music


Middle Ages Music


Renaissance Music


The Baroque Period


The Classical Period


The Romantic Period


20th Century Music


For the National Geographic article on the one of the oldest known instruments, found in the Hohle Fels caves, click HERE


For the National Public Radio article on how Neanderthal genes help shape how many modern humans look, click HERE