Research Highlights | Published:


Cultural wellspring

Nature volume 486, page 161 (14 June 2012) | Download Citation

Certain forms of art and music might have emerged among ancient humans living in southern Germany and then spread through Europe along the Danube River.


The Aurignacian culture, which is characterized by innovations such as figurative art and musical instruments (mammoth-ivory flute pictured), originated in Europe more than 40,000 years ago. However, imprecision in carbon dating has made it difficult to determine precisely where the culture arose. Thomas Higham at the University of Oxford, UK, Nicholas Conard at the University of Tübingen, Germany, and their team used improved sample preparation techniques for carbon dating to study Aurignacian remains from Geißenklösterle cave in southern Germany's Swabian Jura region.

The analysis revealed that the artefacts at Geißenklösterle are about 42,500 years old. This pre-dates other recently dated Aurignacian sites in Europe.

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