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 ? 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.
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.