Stone Age Rolling Stones

Stone Age Rolling Stones

In 1989 a group of Russian anthropologists assembled a band of prehistoric musical instruments unearthed in various caves and other encampments. The instruments, percussion types, looked like anything but a symphony orchestra. Most consisted of hollowed bones and reinforced mammoth skulls. Doubtless the early musicians had also used hollowed—out logs, but these were unable to endure through hundreds of centuries.

One can almost picture these Stone Age musicians beating out a concert. Saturday night, 25,000 years ago, must have scared the dickens out of roving saber—toothed cats. They probably thought the heavy booming was made by some huge animal pounding on the ground. Time to seek out better hunting grounds.

For a long time scientists believed the earliest musical instruments were some sorts of drum, such as those the early Russian cave band used. But recently in the Haua Fteah Cave in Libya, scientists uncovered several fossil bones carved into whistles. These artifacts, used by Neanderthal musicians, are the oldest known musical instruments.

Life was harsh in those days, and a little music must have been very soothing to the savage soul. Scientists believe these early whistles were played occasionally for pleasure. Doubtless, however, they were used mostly for imitating the calls of birds and animals to lure them toward the hunter. The shrill notes may have been designed to drive neighbors into a frenzy, since the music produced wasn't exactly a Mozart musical masterpiece. A Stone Age musician could have been discouraged from furthering a musical career by getting his head bashed in by a neighbor crazed by the headache that high shrill notes can cause.

From the book: 
Petrified Lightning