on some of the
literature [d'Errico et al] for the bone as a natural
Listing of Evidence
for the Divje
babe I bone
being a flute:
It looks like a nearly complete flute, and is similar to other known flutes
from the about the same period (Upper Pleistocene).
Four holes are in line (at least three);
Diameters of the holes are equivalent;
Spacings between holes match a very unique set of spacings found
within a known traditional scale (do-re-mi-fa);
Holes are found on a cylindrical hollow femur, a bone type commonly used
for making flutes in history and prehistory;
is a possible thumb-hole -- exactly where a thumb hole would be: Namely,
the entire hole structure fits a human hand. (See Otte,Current Anthropology, Volume 41, #2, April, 2000);
The bone was found in the vicinity of Mousterian fireplace;
Hole diameters are in a circular shape, a good fit to finger tips;
There are striations or furrowed depressions reported going horizontally
around the rim of the hole, rather than vertically from the top to the
inside as in marks made by teeth. (1)
Responds to blowing -- able to produce musical sounds, even including
traditional scale notes.
The middle two holes are found on thickest part of femur, an unusual location
for carnivore chewing, especially two such holes on the same bone;
of the many bones in the same cave were without holes; few were chewed
[only about 4.5% of the juvenile bones were chewed or had holes, according
to Turk], and most were chewed at the ends where the bone is thinner. This
bone was unique in the attention given to it if carnivores were responsible.
Wolves, bears, and hyenas are unlikely suggested candidates for producing
the central holes because:
Hyena & wolf teeth do not have big
size diameters nor would their oval shape or taper match the nearly circular
holes found in the assumed flute. 3)
spans of the
suggested carnivores do not match any two or more holes in the hole pattern
found on the bone, which precludes more than one hole being punctured at
once by any animal. The 4-hole line-up had to be 4 separate events. (4)
Circular holes might be made by canines
these are not usual for chewing and do not have bite-strength enough to
pierce the thickest part of the bone; (5)
There is an unexpected absence of marks
a counterbite took place if a carnivore punctured the bone; (6)
The bone was remarkably not
shattereddespite the presumed heavy chewing and despite several holes presumed
punctured by powerful carnivore teeth. This is also very rare. See note
Turk & Kunej point out that if the presumed thumb-hole represents only
an anterior counter-bite of the posterior hole made at one end, why was
the posterior hole bitten at the other end -- with what would have been
enough force to penetrate -- not likewise endowed with a second counterbite
on the anterior side of the bone? Both these holes Turk & Kunej believe
were made at the same time.
Further, they point out that animals placing their teeth, for holes to
result being in line, is difficult. That is, the slight flatness of one
side of the bone may seem likelier to sustain holes there, and thus be
more in line, but holding the bone to puncture them in line with separate
bites is actually harder for a carnivore to do. (8)
Finally, the odds of all the above happening by natural or random or even
semi-random processes are very tiny. An analogous or hypothetical probability
study done to find out how many
a bone shape (like a casino wheel) can get a 4-item lineup provides an
order or magnitude of these odds. While the study is based on how many
ways to arrange a set of 4 holes somewhere on such a bone's surface (and
also matching a known scale's hole spacings), note that natural
processes are not necessarily the same as hypothetical random processes.
But in the absence of knowing the natural processes (if any) that are able
to produce a non-chance lineup, the hypothetical estimated calculations
of odds come to 1 in 7 million (or more, up to 16 million) chance to occur.
This seems to be the only such bone with a 4-hole line-up claimed to be
naturally produced, as all others have been (so far) classified as flutes.
If some natural processes capable of producing a line-up are not entirely
random, then these odds would not be so small, but would surely remain
within an order of magnitude of 1 chance in millions or in many thousands.
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& RELATED MATERIAL
Turk Ivan, Ed.,
Mousterian Bone Flute, (Znanstvenoraziskovalni Center Sazu, Ljubljana,
of Music, Ed: Wallin, Merker, & Brown... (MIT Press, Cambridge
/ London, UK, 2ooo).
tool also more or less furrows the edge of a hole (illus. below). Traces
of such furrows (depressions) are present on the edges of both complete
holes, and are difficult to explain if we opt for the hypothesis that the
holes were made by a carnivore with teeth and subsequently enlarged by
weathering (see Chase and Nowell 1998)."... "In chipping holes,
specific damage, including breakage, occurred on the ventral side of pointed
or tongued tools [ed.: tools used by Turk et al to make experimental
holes in fresh bear bone], similar to damage to numerous similar
tools from the site...." Further, Turk and Kunej wrote: "Tools
suitable for chipping holes have a number of irregular sharp edges on the
sides, whereas the teeth of carnivores do not. Because of this, the outline
of holes that have been chipped with stone tools are not completely circular
and have at least one or more corners. " -- Turk & Kunej, in
(left) in the presumed flute from Divje babe I site, and experimentally
chipped & punctured holes produced with a stone tool (right)
(fromTurk & Kunej, in
Notes in white letters added
Fink, who thinks he can see the striations/furrows even though he's not
a trained taphonomic archaeologist. Quality of original photo much clearer
than reproduction here.)
carnivores always chew a bone from the end, most such holes are created
in the region of the epiphyses and metaphyses (Brodar 1985: table 3; Turk
and Dirjec 1997) where elastic and viscoelastic trabecular bone is covered
with thin cortical shell...." -- Turk & Kunej, in Origins...
holes in the flute are too big for a wolf and their shape matches the shape
of wolf's carnassial not at all and the precarnassials of hyenas only slightly.
Precarnassial and carnassial teeth do not produce circular holes but oval
and rhomboid ones." ... "Holes in the flute could only match
the shape of canines of hyenas and large carnivores such as bears (brown
and cave bear) and lions. Except for hyenas, these animals are not interested
in bones, although they are present in cave fauna and must be considered."
-- Turk & Kunej, in Origins... op. cit.
reports (pp. 171-5) that the center-to-center distances of the holes in
the artifact are smaller than that of the tooth span of most carnivores.
The smallest tooth spans they found were 45mm, and the holes on the bone
are 35mm. -- Turk, Mousterian.... op. cit.
holes are characteristic only of canines, where the bite force is half
or less that of precarnassials and carnassial and the teeth behind them.
...A force of 1300 to 1900 Newtons is necessary to pierce thick cortical
bone (3 to 4mm) with a pointed tooth in the middle part of the diaphysis
of juvenile specimens. It is questionable whether most medium sized carnivores
(e.g., wolves, perhaps hyenas) are capable of doing this with their canines..."
-- Turk & Kunej, in Origins... op. cit. This would leave for
the wolf and hyena only their pointed teeth -- which would have left an
expected taper in the hole. -- 'If it doesn't fit, you must
origin of completely pierced holes without opposite bite marks, similar
to ours, is uncertain. ...No such damage or any macroscopic trace is seen
of the point of the opposing tooth or of other opposing teeth in suitable
places beside the complete and half-holes on the other end of bone. Opposing
and neighboring teeth should have made an impression with such a powerful
bite force as is required for the tooth to pierce the thick, compact bone
of the diaphysis." -- Turk & Kunej, in Origins... op. cit.
bone regularly splits longitudinally when a tooth penetrates this deep,
as was the case with the holes in the suspected flute. [Strength
was measured at the Laboratory of Non-linear Mechanics...using steel points
, bronze casts of wolf and hyena dentition, and fresh thigh bones of brown
bear. In widening the experimental holes to the size of those on the suspected
flute, exerting the same force as for piercing, all juvenile bones cracked.
We thank Profs. J Grum and F. Kosel for their help.]" The
ultimate goal of every bone-eating carnivore is to split a bone into two
pieces to get at the marrow. The question is why this goal was not achieved
after so many attempts, when most of the necessary energy had been invested
in piercing the cortical shell and widening the holes." -- Turk &
Kunej, in Origins... op. cit.
teeth ...have the effect of splitting the force produced by the lower jaw
into two components, axial and transverse (we owe this explanation to Dr.
Pavel Cevc, Institute "Joief Stefan," Ljubljana). The transverse
component precludes the upper canine from penetrating the arched anterior
surface of the bone. In this case it would be very difficult for
a carnivore that pierced the bone several times with abnormal chewing behavior
to place the same tooth (i.e., lower canine) each time exactly in line
with a previous hole. All holes and notches on the posterior side
are disposed in a straight line." -- Turk & Kunej, in Origins...
op. cit. (Emph. added)
probability that an undetermined carnivore [or carnivores] pierced a bone
several times and gave it the coincidental form of a flute without fragmenting
it into pieces is very small. If this probability were greater, it is likely
that there would have been more such finds, since there were at least as
many beasts of prey in the middle Paleolithic as people. In addition, such
carnivores in cave dens were at least as active on bones, if not more so,
than people in cave dwellings...." Without attempting a measure, Turk
and Kunej's general judgement results: "...it is highly probable that
the pierced bone from Divje babe I site is the product of human hands from
the invention phase of some technological and cultural process; this
is a great deal more probable than that it was heavily chewed."
[Emph. added.] Further, they wrote: "We are familiar with examples
in which indisputable bone artifacts, such as Upper Paleolithic bone points,
were greatly chewed by beasts after people ceased to use them (Turk and
Stele 1997: figure 57; Lopez Bayon et al.1997: photo 1)" -- Turk &
Kunej, in Origins... op. cit.