In this article, I will introduce the subject of archaeoacoustics and ancient “musical instruments”. As we will see, these can be used in conjunction with a number of ancient sites from around the world.
The Archaeoacoustics Field of Study
Archaeoacoustics is the use of acoustical study within the wider scientific field of archaeology. This includes the study of the acoustics at archaeological sites, and the study of acoustics in archaeological artifacts. Over the last 40 years it has become increasingly obvious that studying the sonic nature of certain areas of archaeology can help us understand ancient cultures. Archaeoacoustics is an interdisciplinary field, it includes various fields of research including: archaeology, ethnomusicology, acoustics and digital modelling. These form the larger field of music archaeology.
One of the leading research groups publishing new papers on archaeoacoustics is SB Research Group (SBRG). SBRG is a multidisciplinary university project supported by University of Trieste, Italy “that aims to study from 2010 the architecture, geometry, shape and materials of ancient structures in Europe”.
“Archaeoacoustics is an interesting new method for re-analyzing ancient sites, it uses different study parameters to re-discover forgotten technology which operates on the human emotional sphere.” (SBRG).
Engraved pututo (conch) Strombus shell, Chavin 1000-500 BC ( CC BY 3.0 )
Research over the last few decades is starting to shed light on the connection between ancient instruments and ancient sites. At Chavín de Huántar, Peru, Miriam Kolar of Stanford University reports in her article, “The Code of the Conch – How the science of sound explained an ancient Peruvian oracle”:
“Archaeoacoustic research—sonic science applied to archaeological evidence—has revealed secrets built into Chavín’s architecture, unlocked by the sound of conch shells that were buried for millennia.”
“Performing a replica shell…