I was searching information about drums skins made of animal hide and I thought, "has there ever been a drum made with elephant skin?".

When I googled this I keep finding multiple links that say, that the oldest drum ever was found by archeologists, trapped in the ice of Antarctica. and is supposably 37,000 years old and made of elephant skin.

Example from the book Drums by Roberta Baxter (2020). The "Look inside" preview visible on that website contains this page:

enter image description here

I see multiple sites claim this but, I cannot find any source to this and doubt that this is real. Does anyone know where this story came from?

  • @hdhondt Avery found a book which makes that claim and posted an image. I made an edit to add a link to a website where the book can be previewed. The preview contains the image posted by Avery. My edit is currently pending review.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 10:51
  • Before someone else reverse-image-searches the photo from the mentioned book which appears on the same page as the image in the question: It is not the supposed 37,000 year old drum but a stock photo of the also mentioned 2,500 year old Vietnamese bronze drum.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 11:10
  • 14
    Curious graphic. The "Vietnam" arrow points to Korea.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 12:45
  • 3
    "Enjoy this 1998 edition of our annual April Fools' Day science story!" It was just a prank. Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 14:00
  • 1
    There were not any elephants (or relatives) or humans anywhere near Antarctica at that time. Commented Jun 27, 2021 at 2:06

1 Answer 1


This claim originally came from the article 10 Earliest Known Musical Instruments which was posted to the defunct website "Smashing Lists" in 2010.

  1. Elephant Skin Drum [37,000 years ago]

The earliest known drum was 30,000 years old when man used animal hide stretched to create sound. The first discovered is from an elephant skin used since it was preserved from scavenging in Antarctica’s ice age.

As you can see, this earliest statement is not quite grammatical and contradicts itself about age. It offers no citation. The accompanying photo is of a real elephant skin drum from Vietnam, but certainly not a 30,000 year old one.

This list was cited by the book "The Musical Human" by Michael Spitzer to support the claim:

The apparent vestige of an elephant-hide drum has been dated at 37,000 years old.

  • 4
    How do you know that the top-10 list from "Smashing Lists" is the original source of the claim?
    – Schmuddi
    Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 7:57

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