It Makes Music
March 11, 2021
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 .
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 people for gatherings.
Rasoul Morteza is a 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.”