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It Makes Music

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GEORGES GOBET—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A conch shell was discovered 90 years ago in France. It’s now thought to be the oldest instrument of its kind. Researchers say it’s about 18,000 years old.

The shell was found in a cave in 1931 in France’s Pyrenees region. At first, archaeologists thought it was an ancient cup. It sat in a museum for decades decade PW decade COOPERPHOTO—GETTY IMAGES a period of ten years (noun) Our family listened to the best music from that decade. .

This 18,000-year-old horn was made from a seashell. It can still make sounds.

GEORGES GOBET—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

But researchers took a fresh look at the shell. They saw the tip was broken off. You can blow into it. And sound holes had been added. The shell can still play three clear notes.

A Piece of the Past

The conch shell is decorated with faded red dots. They match some of the markings found on the cave walls. This shell might have been played during ceremonies. Or it might have been used to summon summon PW SUMMON SOLSTOCK—GETTY IMAGES to ask someone to come (verb) Our teacher blew the whistle to summon us inside from recess. people for gatherings.

Rasoul Morteza is a composer composer PW COMPOSER GLOWIMAGES—GETTY IMAGES a person who writes music (noun) The symphony was written by a famous composer. in Canada. He has studied the sounds made by shells. “It’s amazing when there’s an object forgotten somewhere,” he says. “And suddenly, it comes again into the light.”

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