A deer antler discovered in Vietnam may be one of the oldest stringed instruments ever unearthed in Southeast Asia.
The 2,000-year-old instrument, discovered in a region along the Mekong River, is thought to look like a single-stringed harp.
Researchers believe that this interesting find could be the ancestor of the complex musical instruments that people in Vietnam still play today.
Archaeologists from the Australian National University and the Long An Museum in Vietnam analysed more than 600 bone artefacts found in the region to better understand the musical culture of ancient Vietnam.
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The artefacts were unearthed at the Gò Ô Chùa archaeological site in Vietnam’s Long An province. Three identical bronze bells were found with them. Researchers say they were probably part of a funeral ceremony.
According to the analysis published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Antiquity, the deer antler instrument bridges the gap between the region’s oldest known musical instruments, stone percussion, and more modern instruments.
It consists of a 35-centimetre-long piece of deer antler with a hole at one end.
Researchers say that this hole is the slot for a nail used to tune the strings on guitars and other instruments.
The team named this stringed instrument a cordophone.
“The cordophone is one of the oldest examples of this type of instrument in Southeast Asia,” said researcher Fredeliza Campos of the Australian National University.
Meanwhile, the team also considered the possibility that the deer antler could have been used for other purposes.
“No other explanation for its use makes sense,” Campos said:
Stone percussion instruments, the oldest known musical instruments in the region, are called lithophones. The chordophone bridges the gap between these and more modern instruments.