French researchers from the Sorbonne University have conceived an intriguing experiment - they want to test how a horn from a 17, 000-year-old shell would sound in a cave where ancient people lived. The musical instrument has very unusual sound qualities, it was created purposefully, but for what purposes it is a mystery. There is a version that he will reveal his secret when he will sound under the arches of the cave.
Initially, archaeologists did not pay attention to the large shell found in 1931 in the Marsoulas Cave in the Pyrenees, they considered it a kind of ancient bowl. Together with other artifacts of the Madeleine culture, which existed 18-12 thousand years ago, it was placed in a museum and forgotten for many decades. The shell is unremarkable, such can be found today near the Atlantic, if not for two "buts".
Firstly, from the cave of Marsoulas to the sea is now 200 km, and it is unlikely that ancient people would have carried it so far. This means that before the coast passed somewhere nearby, and the life of this people could be connected with the sea more than we know. Secondly, the broken off tip turned out to be the strongest part of the shell, it is almost impossible to do it by accident. As the tomography showed, they worked hard over the sink, it was not only converted into a horn, but also fasteners for the mouthpiece were made.
The shell horn is quite different from the ancient flutes carved from the hollow bones of large birds. With it, you can play three different notes: C, C sharp and D, and the sound is so powerful that at a distance of a meter from the sink, the volume exceeds 100 dB. The people of the Madeleine culture are known for their skillful processing of flint and bones, but the musical instrument made from the shell is something special. It is currently the oldest functional wind instrument of its kind.