With Halloween coming tomorrow, what better time than now to delve into the eerie world of archaeoacoustics? In the Acoustics Today article, “Archaeoacoustics: Re-Sounding Material Culture,” author Miriam A. Kolar delves into the sonic secrets of archaeological materials, unearthing long-forgotten forms of communication, and reanimating the silenced voices of the past.

Archaeoacoustics is an emerging field that transcends disciplines, allowing people to explore the significance of sound across time and cultures. It goes beyond mere acoustics and harnesses science, engineering, and the humanities to interpret archaeological findings. With a focus on experimentation, analytical models, and computational reconstructions, archaeoacousticians aim to unlock the sensory implications of ancient materials.

Imagine yourself atop a 3,000-year-old stone structure, towering above ancient plazas, listening to the haunting echoes of giant conch shell horns known as pututus. It’s not a ghostly apparition; it’s archaeoacoustics in action. In a spine-tingling experiment at Chavín de Huántar, Peru, researchers set out to measure sound transmission through these prehistoric sound devices. As they perceived the echoes “swirling around from all directions,” they recorded the sound and its return, revealing an auditory landscape we can scarcely imagine.

Archaeoacoustics is all about mapping the potential for sonic communication, assessing what could be heard and from where. By employing scientific methodologies and integrating information from site archaeology, researchers can test historical claims and offer empirical evidence for sound dynamics. Whether exploring pututus in the Andes or the enigmatic carnyx in ancient Scotland, archaeoacoustics reveals the extraordinary potential of sound to bridge the gap between past and present.

AT winter 2018 Cover Archaeoacoustics

As we prepare for Halloween’s eerie nights, remember that the mysteries of archaeoacoustics are just one example of how science can unveil the spectral sounds of the past. This field offers us a fascinating journey into the world of archaeology, combining the haunting echoes of history with the precision of acoustic science.

Intrigued by archaeoacoustics? Venture further into the realm of sound in archaeology in another Acoustics Today article “Acoustics in Music Archaeology: Re-Sounding the Marsoulas Conch and Its Cave.” Unearth the past through a different dimension—one that’s both bone-chilling and scientifically enchanting. Happy Halloween!


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