He waited there for some 18,000 years. In a cave in the Pyrenees. And today, researchers are telling us his secret. This shell is the oldest wind instrument of this type ever discovered. You will also be interested Experts from the past: the carnyx, a curious Gallic musical instrument The carnyx is a strange Gallic musical instrument. Only a few rare copies have survived to our time. In this episode of Experts from the Past, scientists from Inrap will try to create a reproduction. When it was discovered in 1931, in the first decorated cave unearthed in the Pyrenees in 1897 – the Marsoulas cave – no one really paid attention. But this large shell of the species Charonia lampas (humped newt) finally aroused the interest of CNRS researchers during an inventory of material from archaeological excavations at the Museum of Toulouse. Because several of its characteristics show that beyond a shell, it is a symbolic object. The oldest such wind instrument, even the researchers thought. Since the dating of the cave by the carbon 14 method gives it an age of about 18,000 years. And that, if older flutes have already been discovered, the conches found elsewhere are much more recent. An Object Shaped By Humans Researchers observed that the hardest tip of the shell was intentionally broken off, forming an opening 3.5 centimeters in diameter. At the other end, the opening of the shell also shows traces of retouching. And the shell is decorated with a red pigment. A tomography also reveals the perforation of the first turns. As for the presence of an organic coating on the opening, it suggests that men may have attached a tip. The three notes played by Jean-Michel Court on the shell of the Marsoulas cave. © CNRS 3D prints should help to learn more. But with the help of a horn player, researchers have already succeeded in producing with this shell, three sounds close to the notes C, C sharp and D. A great way to immerse ourselves in the Magdalenian culture. Interested in what you just read?