@beezlebroxxxxxx 4d
The connection between artistic expression and "spiritual beings" is also odd. What if they were just playing some songs around a fire? What if the flutes were for emulating bird songs? Maybe it was a kid's toy. The presence of artistic expression need not require some complex or even simplistic spiritualism, only a kind of basic aesthetics, a desire for creative expression.
@mandmandam 4d
Let's assume the thing is a flute. It's been reconstructed and plays beautifully. The odds of a hyena making such a thing with its teeth are in silly territory; and we have other similar flutes that are nearly as old (relatively speaking).

Given that, the fact that they use a scale so resonant with humans that it is still in very popular use sixty thousand years later - that's incredible. I felt the article drastically undersold the awesomeness of that, showing far too much restraint.

Have you seen the video where Bobby McFerrin leads a whole crowd to sync perfectly with each other, without rehearsal, thanks to the pentatonic scale [0]? That's spiritual stuff; it's 'sophisticated artistic expression'. That's the same scale that was (almost certainly) intentionally used to make this flute.

Here's a great comment from that video:

> What Bobby is doing here is transcendent. He gives an audience four notes of a five note scale, with no context, with no explanation, and the audience is intuitively able to grasp what the 5th note of the scale is. Not only that, the audience is able to intuitively understand the way the scale continues, above and below the range they were given. The fact that Bobby says this works with audience anywhere in the world speaks to a deep cross-cultural piece of the human experience and how we understand music and ourselves. Something is happening at the fundamental level here and I think it's lost on some people how truly profound this is.

Neanderthals intentionally crafted sophisticated flutes to play this precise scale 60,000 years ago? That's profound alright.

0 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ne6tB2KiZuk

@nomel 4d
> I am just wondering how you would confidently conclude that from the existence of (a thing which is probably) a flute.

It’s not just the flute. It’s the burial rituals, the art, the tools, the anatomy, the crossbreeding, etc. See any introduction to the topic.

@tptacek 4d
It's an interesting question, right? Arguably, orcas also do musical expression.
@masswerk 4d
There is a (now rather dated) theory of an hierarchy of arts, where music, being the most abstract and at the same time the most intimate and sensual (AKA spiritual) one taking the crown. If you adhere to this idea to some degree, there may be no way around this kind of conclusion, short of abandoning said theory, since music is supposed to encompass the virtues of all the other arts.