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Which were the first ancient cultures to make music? © Getty Images

Which were the first ancient cultures to make music?

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Music plays an important role in modern society, for entertainment and communication, but who were the first people to make music?

Asked by: Caroline Jones, London

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In 1996, two teams of archaeologists claimed to have found fragments of simple flute-like instruments at Neanderthal sites in Slovenia and the Neander Valley in Germany.

Both were made from bone - a cave bear's femur and a mastodon's tusk - in which rows of holes had been drilled at intervals that would allow the bones to make musical notes. If confirmed, this would mean that these early humans were making music at least 50,000 years ago, and possibly longer.

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Authors

Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.

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