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For thousands of years drums have been used in religious and social settings. They have relayed messages to neighboring tribes, set forth important celebrations, reverberated with the felicity of a birth, and pulsed a pathway for spirits to find their way home after death. In Lapland and Siberia, shamans used drums as a divination device (a system modernly known as tympana), as did gypsies in Hungary, and the Celts in Europe .
While the discovery of ancient drums appear in almost every part of the world, they first appeared in excavation from the Neolithic Era. The oldest recorded drum is thought to be from 6000 BC. Small cylindrical drums as old as 3000 BC have been found in mesopotamian ruins. Egyptian tombs have produced small drums used for ceremonies. Several caves in Peru contain wall markings depict the use of drums in various aspects of societal life. Indian drums from the Middle East are suspected to be as old as 5000 BC. The American Indians have used a series of wood and gourd drums for music, celebration, and ceremonies throughout their cultural history .
In Africa, hourglass shaped pressure drums, also called talking drums, were used by natives for group communications, usually as part of a ceremony. Far from making a similar noise each time the tightly-stretched hide was struck, the leather cords stretching the length of the drum allowed the percussionist to change the pitch by squeezing or releasing the cords. These drums are popular in West African music today .
The message drum, also called a slit gong, is made from a single log, with sounds that carry 5 miles to another tribe or village. The logs are elaborately carved or plain, emphasizing the sound. The hollowed out log contains a slit cut in it, while its length determines the pitch of the drum. Native American Indians regularly used slit gongs to communicate, too. Hollowed out logs are among some of the earliest discoveries of a type of drum used in ancient times .
Drums were used as communication devices during the Revolutionary War by troops, as well. Each camp had a drummer who played something designed to communicate their status to the other camps. Drums were used to motivate soldiers to move, to commence battle, and as the beat for the death march of the condemned .
Medicine men used drums to perform sacred healing rituals. Most ancient cultures used drums in almost every ritual from birth to marriage to burial .
One of the most powerful aspects of drumming and why it may be the oldest holy communion is that it changes people's consciousness. Through rhythmic repetition of ritual sounds, the body, brain and the nervous system are energized and transformed. When a group of people play a rhythm for an extended period of time, their brain waves become entrained to the rhythm and they have a shared brain wave state. The longer the drumming goes on, the more powerful the entrainment becomes. All of the oldest known religious rites used drumming as part of the shared religious experience .
 Sacred beat: from the heart of the drum circle. Telesco, Patricia and Don Two Eagles Waterhawk,Time's Beat: a Brief History of Drums (pg.2)
 http://www.stillwatermpc.org/dharma/dh20050217.htm 184.108.40.206 (talk) 20:45, 5 November 2010 (UTC)