Hear the Musical Sounds of an 18,000-Year-Old Giant Conch | History | Smithsonian Magazine

“…When Walter placed the conch into a CT scan, he indeed found many curious human touches. Not only did the ancient artists deliberately cut off the tip, but they also punctured or drilled round holes through the shell’s coils, through which they likely inserted a small tube-like mouthpiece. To keep the mouthpiece in place, the Magdalenians are believed to have used some sort of sticky organic material, which could have been clay or wax, but the team couldn’t determine exactly what. “There just wasn’t enough material to tell what it was,” Walter says. What he could tell was that the seashell’s horn had been decorated with traces of red pigment. Painted as series of red dots the size and shape of fingerprints, the touches covered the opening of the shell. Moreover, artistically, that red dot style was strikingly similar to the large image of a bison that the Magdalenian artists had painted on the cave’s wall. (The paintings in the cave were discovered in 1897, Walter says, and described in the 1932 article in Nature.) These stylistic similarities can be indicative of some special ceremonial practice where the seashell horn was sounded near to the bison’s picture for spiritual, celebratory or other reasons….”

Hear the Musical Sounds of an 18,000-Year-Old Giant Conch | History | Smithsonian Magazine

from Smithsonianmag.com

Artist’s rendering of a prehistoric human playing the ancient conch instrument (G. Tosello)

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