Creating a 40,000-year-old bone flute using 3D printing technology

When I was travelling in 2012, I saw a fragment of a bone flute in one of the European museums. The object was old and it piqued my interest. And it changed my understanding of music history. Before this encounter, I had associated the beginning of music history with ancient Greece and Rome. The fact is that people have played music for much longer than that.

By Ludwig Sugiri

bone flute
In 2008, Professor Nicholas Conard, an archaeologist from the University of Tübingen, excavated fragments of bone flutes in Hohle Fels in Southern Germany. The stratigraphic positions and associated radiocarbon dates suggest that one of the bone flutes dates to ca. 40,000 years ago. The finding was published in Nature in 2009 and that discovery placed a new dot at the beginning of timeline of music history. I wanted to see with my own eyes the earliest musical instrument known to mankind.


A few days ago I experimented with our 3D printer and created a replica of the Hohle Fels bone flute. I love showing it to musicians, musicologists and music enthusiasts. We learn better when we have a tangible object that we can touch and feel, especially when we are telling a story of how music has existed since at least 40,000 years ago.


3D printing technology allows us to recreate objects of the past or things that are otherwise inaccessible or invisible to the naked eye. These objects can be used as effective teaching tools and can help with communicating research outcomes, leading to greater engagement.


Library 3D printers are available to all students and staff.

For more information see


Ludwig Sugiri is an Academic Liaison Librarian, Conservatorium Library


Honi Soit – digitisation of a well-loved treasure


Honi Soit, the University of Sydney’s student newspaper, has been published by the Students’ Representative Council since 1929 and forms a rich and informative source of the cultural and social history of the University, New South Wales and Australia.

By Sten ChristensenHoniSoit2

There is now a need to preserve and sustain the older editions of the newspaper, which are deteriorating due to the age, and a need to provide alternative methods of access to the content. The Library has committed funds for the digitisation of a large portion of the back set (1929-1990) and has engaged the services of a company that specialises in this type of digitisation, DatacomIT.

This is the first phase of the project which involves the digitisation and scanning of the newspaper and the processing of a large number of digital files. The sum total of the data will be over a 1TB (1000 Gigabytes! This has been done onsite given the rare and fragile state of the material. Following on from the scanning and file processing we will move to phase two, discussing with the SRC on making the material that we have digitised available online to the public.

As the digital files are fully processed and checked we will be making samples available prior to the 1929 to 1990 back set going online.

Please direct any inquiries to Sten Christensen Associate Director, Publishing and Data (

#honisoit #sydney_library #behindthescenes

The Digital Scholarship Studio is now open


Cutting edge digital research services and technologies united in the University of Sydney Library’s Digital Scholarship Studio.

In the Studio we’ve brought together a number of cutting edge digital research services and
technologies, including data curation, digitisation, data analysis, visualisation and research data management, and have made them available in one central Library facility for all University researchers, including HDR students, to enjoy. The Studio delivers expertise in digital scholarship tools and techniques and supports you as a researcher in your exploration and use of digital technologies.

We’re constantly developing and evolving our exciting new digitDSS3al scholarship services in response to your needs in the rapidly changing digital research environment.


Contact and bookings:

Location: Fisher Library F03, Level 5


At present we offer services in:

Data Rescue

If you have data that’s stored on media or in file formats that are (or are soon to be) obsolete, we’ll make all reasonable attempts to rescue your data for you. We’ll attempt to retrieve data from storage media such as hard drives, USBs, SD and other memory cards, CDs and other optical disks, and floppy disks. The rescued data can then be transferred to safe and secure storage. We’ll also endeavour to identify formats of inaccessible files, determine what software’s needed to access those formats, and convert files into more accessible formats.

In the Studio, we’ll make every effort to work with you to safely retrieve as much of your research data as we can and get it into the best possible state for long-term preservation into the future.


Data Analysis and Visualisation

ParaView_screenshotData analysis and visualisation can be essential components of the research process. In the Studio, we can help you find the best software or tools for analysing and visualising your data. We’re also available to provide tips on how to get started using the tools, making the Studio a great place to come if you’re unsure of which tool to use, or if you just want to test-drive a new piece of software.

The data analysis and visualisation tools provided in the Studio are freely available to all University staff and students, so you’ll be able to take the tools back to your own computer to use throughout the course of your research.



Digitisation services and advice will also be offered through the Studio. We can provide digitisation of bound manuscripts, still images, and paper-based material (to A1 size) upon examination and volume constraints. We can also offer advice regarding formats such as glass negatives and transparencies, magnetic tape (1/4”, reel-to-reel), other videotape material (1”, Betamax, DAT, Hi-8, Betacam SP, Digital Betacam, Umatic), and film. As well as this, we can provide advice on the best processes to follow in digitisation projects.


Research Data Management

Good research data management practices are becoming increasingly important to secure funding and meet publisher requirements. In the Studio, we’ll offer support and advice on:

  • research data management planning
  • data collection, organisation and description
  • data retention and archiving
  • publishing and sharing data.

Through an initial consultation, we’ll identify the research data management requirements for your project, and advise and assist you in developing a strategy for managing your research data. This will include identifying suitable storage, developing file naming conventions, advising of data retention periods and recommending suitable publishing and archiving options for your data.


3D Printing and Scanning

SnowmanThe Studio’s equipped with a MakerBot Replicator 3D printer that you can use to prototype objects, create bespoke parts, or visualise 3D models for your research. We’ll assist you in setting up your 3D object file to achieve a successful print. Once your print is underway you’ll be able to leave it running and come back to pick up your finished print at a time that’s convenient for you.

The Studio also offers 3D scanning to researchers, allowing you to digitally interact with, explore and modify objects. Scanned files can then be 3D printed in the Studio.


Contact us now to make an inquiry, or book an appointment in the Digital Scholarship Studio!


#Sydney_library #DSS_usyd #digitalscholarship