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Seven flutes were found on the Eynan-Mallaha site, including one complete.

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Seven prehistoric sound instruments were discovered at the prehistoric site of Eynan-Mallaha in northern Israel by a French-Israeli team of archaeologists.

This discovery of aerophones made more than 12,000 years ago is extremely rare: they are the first sound instruments discovered in the Middle East, explain the researchers in a press release published by the National Center for Scientific Research of France (CNRS).

Some examples of the existence of sound instruments in the Upper Paleolithic have been described, but mainly in European cultures.

Eynan-Mallaha , which lies in the Houla Valley, has been scrutinized by archaeologists since 1955. At the time, the site bordered Lake Houleh which has since been drained to allow cultivation. Today, the valley is located 25 kilometers from the Sea of ​​Galilee.

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The Natufian civilization populated the Levant.

The Eynan-Mallaha site is therefore of capital importance for revealing the practices and habits of a culture at the crossroads between nomadic and sedentary lifestyles, note the authors of this work published in the journal Scientific Reports.

This civilization thus marks the transition between the hunter-gatherer societies of the Paleolithic and the fully-fledged agricultural societies of the Neolithic.

This change is associated with increasing social complexity which is reflected in various aspects of their material culture [for example, the appearance of cemeteries, artistic manifestations and structures durable structures built of stone], add the researchers.

The excavations made it possible to collect 1,112 bird bones. Aerophones were made from teal bones (Anas crecca) and coots (Fulica atra).

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A coot (Fulica atra).

These flutes from another time are all made up of long wing bones (a humerus, five ulna, a radius) which have been perforated one to four times to form holes where it is possible to place the fingers. Six of the instruments are incomplete, but one of them is perfectly preserved. It is one of the rare prehistoric sound instruments that has reached us in a complete state, say the researchers.

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A complete aerophone made over 12,000 years ago.

Through technological and acoustic analysis, archaeologists believe these objects were intentionally made to produce a range of sounds similar to the calls of raptors such as the European hawk and the common kestrel.

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The flutes may have been made intentionally to produce a range of sounds similar to the calls of raptors such as the common kestrel. (File photo)

They could also have been used to communicate, attract prey and even create music.

According to the researchers, the choice of bones used for making is not left to chance since larger bird bones (from which deeper sounds could have been produced) were found on the site, but they do not 'had not been worked.

The Natufians would therefore have deliberately selected smaller bones, to obtain higher-pitched sounds imitating those of birds of prey.

The seven aerophones discovered in the Levant are characterized by a unique manufacturing technique. Archaeologists believe that due to the discreet technical traces on the bones, they could find other, similar ones hidden in the collections.

In any case, we can already note that the seven aerophones of Eynan-Mallaha form the largest set of prehistoric sound instruments in the Levant, say the scientists.

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