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Music Archaeology: The Flute in the North America

Music Archaeology: The Flute in the North America
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Music archaeology has uncovered a lot of flute history. Although archaeological flute remnants have been found in Germany dating to 33,000 to 38,000 years ago, the instrument didn’t appear in North America until approximately 7,500 years ago (thus far). It was located on the northeast coast of Newfoundland, on the portion facing Labrador. It rested in a child’s burial within a constructed mound. The child was not buried with the bone flute alone, but also with an antler paint pestle, a harpoon, a walrus tusk, and several other items (Jelsma 1961:15).

The reason why I say this is the oldest flute known in North America, thus far, is because work in music archaeology has only occurred on a small portion of the landscape. In addition, items have been removed, or never deposited (family heirlooms), or have just plain decomposed. There are a lot of acidic soils in North America.

Brief timeline: Flute in North America:

  • ~7,500 years ago: L’Anse Amour bone flute (discussed above [Jelsma 1961:15])
  • ~ 7,000 to 4,000 years ago: bird bone flute in east Texas (Goss 2011a)
  • ~1,800 to 1,450 years ago: Hopewell tradition panpipes throughout the eastern, northern and southern United States(Goss 2011b)
  • ~1,400 years ago: flutes in northeastern Arizona – the oldest extant flutes crafted from wood (Goss 2011c)

Of course, numerous other flutes have been found throughout North America. Their timelines extend to current times. These dates discussed above reflect the first known in their large regions.

Music Archaeology and Anthropology posts within this website:

Outside Websites about Flutes in the Americas:

  • Goss 2011 (Flute Timeline): This link will take you to a different page than the reference above, but it is easy to navigate the site’s numerous pages on the flute.
  • Native Flutes Walking: This site describes native flutes throughout the Americas, with maps and people playing them.

References

Goss, Clint
2011a   The East Texas Flute. In The Development of Flutes in North America. In Flutopedia: an Encyclopedia for the Native American Flute. Electronic document, http://www.flutopedia.com/dev_flutes_northamerica.htm#East_Texas_Flute, accessed January 1, 2012.
2011b   Hopewell Tradition Panpipes. In The Development of Flutes in North America. In Flutopedia: an Encyclopedia for the Native American Flute. Electronic document, http://www.flutopedia.com/dev_flutes_northamerica.htm#Hopewell_Tradition_Panpipes, accessed January 1, 2012.
2011c   Anasazi Flutes from the Broken Flute Cave. In The Development of Flutes in North America. In Flutopedia: an Encyclopedia for the Native American Flute. Electronic document, http://www.flutopedia.com/dev_flutes_northamerica.htm#Broken_Flute_Cave_Flutes, accessed January 1, 2012.
Jelsma, Johan
1961   A Bed of Ochre: Mortuary Practices and Social Structure of a Maritime Archaic Indian Society at Port au Choix, Newfoundland. Rijksuniversitiet Groningen dissertation. Electronic document, http://dissertations.ub.rug.nl/faculties/arts/2000/j.jelsma/, accessed January 1, 2012.

 

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Music Archaeology: The Flute in the North America by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

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One Comment

  1. Crazy Weekend: arsonist on the loose in LA and a park ranger killed at Mt. Rainier. I know from experience how dangerous ranger work can be.

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