Discovery of the Week 27

NEWS | Published: 9.7.2010

A flute in the making

This flute, which dates back to the 15th century, was never completely finished. In addition to the finished finger holes, the flute shows marks of unfinished drilling and sketches for openings. The unfinished flute seems to be missing the specific opening required to produce a flute-like sound, which a similar bone flute would normally have had. One end of the bone is neatly cut, but the other is broken. It is possible that the opening was cut off with the broken end. In any case, the carefully chosen material for the flute is a sheep\s or a goat\s shinbone, as is typical for medieval bone flutes. A bone flute was easiest to manufacture with pipe-like bones.

Bone flutes similar to this one have had their golden age in medieval Northern and Central Europe, especially in populations on the coastlines. Previously, only two bone flutes were known in Finland, found on the isle of Aland (Ahvenanmaa). To compare, excavations on the medieval layers of the Swedish city of Lund have revealed dozens of them. Nowadays however the Turku area boasts several bone flutes, which is partly the result of the growing and developing field of urban archaeology in Finland.

Archeological excavations 2010

Excavations are taking place inside the Aboa Vetus Museum once again this summer. The museum features a part of the medieval Convent Quarter whose inhabitants were mainly rich merchants and their servants. This summer, the backyard of largest stone building in the museum area is being excavated. The building dates back to 1401-1404.

Much is being expected from the excavations of the area because the backyard has been used for various kind of activities in the Middle Ages: animal care, gardening, housework and also the household waste was thrown in a heap in the yard. Therefore, one can presume that remnants of animals and vegetables as well as pieces of various items are found in the area. The manure-rich soil layers of the yard also preserve organic material, such as leather items, better than the ordinary clayey soil layers. In earlier excavations next to the yard, the oldest wooden structures of houses and the finest luxury goods in the museum area have been found. The oldest soil layers date back to the beginning of the 14th century, that is, the earliest phase of Turku.

Each week, a new Discovery of the Week from the excavations is displayed in the museum from June 11th to August 20th.