My kids sometimes wonder what it is about history that fascinates me so much, and I have almost no ability to provide an answer that satisfies. So instead I turn to demonstration. Every now and then I learn something that, once it sinks in, nearly takes my breath away, and my next thought is usually to communicate it to them so that I might prompt some flowering of interest. But it hasn’t worked yet. Today’s New York Times provided me with such a piece of information, which I may email them. It’s always worth another try.
The story concerns one of the earliest musical instruments ever discovered intact: a flute carved from a piece of bone nearly 35,000 years ago. Go ahead and click on the link. There’s a picture. The instrument in question is thin, graceful, gently curved, and bears every resemblance to a modern woodwind in form and function. It was created in a past so distant that all of recorded history could have occured in the interrim seven times over. Everything we know about civilized humanity spans a mere 5000 years or so, and yet seven times that long ago humans were carving instruments and playing music. If the very idea doesn’t awaken in you an appreciation for ancient history then I think we can safely assume nothing will.