The crust was largely overlooked when it was found in the Marsolas Cave in the Pyrenees in 1931, but researchers from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS); Toulouse Museum. University of Toulouse – Jean Jauris; And the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac released an audio recording as part of a new study published Wednesday.
It is possible that the people who made this machine were Hunters. credit: © Carol Fritz et al. 2021 / Jill Tosilo
The tip of the periwinkle shell (Charonia lampas) has broken off, forming a 1.4-inch diameter aperture. The researchers said in a press release that the limb is the hardest part of the cortex, so the fracture is not accidental.
There is also evidence of cutting, perforation, and decoration with hematite, a red pigment used in cave paintings that makes Marsola Cave so famous.
The researchers worked with a trumpeter to verify their hypothesis that the cortex was used to produce sounds, with the musician being able to produce sounds close to C, C-Sharp, and D.
The fact that the orifice was irregular and covered in an organic layer led researchers to believe that the mouthpiece was to have originally stuck.
Gilles Tosilo, co-author of the study and archaeologist at the University of Toulouse, said the presence of trumpets on other oyster shells from around the world adds weight to this interpretation.
According to the researchers, carbon dating was made on charcoal and bear bones from the same archaeological layer as oysters show that the bodies date back to 18,000 years. This makes the projectile the oldest blow molding machine of its kind.
However, Tosilo told CNN that the people who made it didn’t necessarily use the peel to make what we think of as music.
“It could have been used as a communication tool,” he said, explaining that it may have been used in rituals related to art inside the cave.
The researchers also found similarities with the materials found in caves along the Atlantic coast in northern Spain, Tosilo said, which lends weight to the idea that these people were nomadic hunter-gatherers moving between the Atlantic coast and the Pyrenees.
He explained that they would have had to move because the animals would have run out of hunting if they had stayed in one place for too long.
Tosilo told CNN that researchers will now work on an accurate 3D replica of the shell in order to learn more about a small, 0.4-inch-diameter hole in its body. They will also investigate the extent to which the sound produced by the jacket can travel.