American University of Beirut


​​​​Flutes made of animal bone or mammoth ivory are among the earliest evidence of the existence of music in ancient societies. In 1995, archaeologists found an approximately 43,400-year-old carved bone with four holes which could have been used to play notes. It was discovered in a cave in Slovenia that was associated with the Neanderthal culture. In Germany, archaeologists have found mammoth and swan bone flutes dating back 37,000-30,000 years.

The earliest written mention of a flute comes from a cuneiform tablet written in about 2600-2500 BC in Sumer, South Mesopotamian valley, and refers to the “gu-di" or “gi-di" a type of flute.

At the AUB Museum, a showcase features two molded male flute players (pic 1-2: Inv.# 83.4 & Inv.# 84.1) dating back to the Hellenistic period. They are both dressed with a chiton tied at the waist and their hair parted in the middle and falling on their shoulders.

 Stay tuned to discover more artifacts from the AUB Museum.

     Male flute player (Inv.# 83.4)
                                   Hellenistic Period                        
            Height: 9.4cm
            Width: 5.2cm
             Th.: 4.1cm​
​Male flute player (Inv.# 84.1)
                                  Hellenistic Period                                       Height: 10.5cm
            Width: 5.2cm
             Th.: 4.5cm

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