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PREHISTORIC ACOUSTICS

PREHISTORIC ACOUSTICS

The December 1996 edition of Antiquity, the archaeological establishment’s flagship journal, carried another article by Paul Devereux. This centred on the acoustic resonance experiments undertaken in 1994 by Paul and Robert Jahn (of Princeton University’s PEAR lab) at megalithic chamber and fogou sites in Britain and Ireland. A version of the paper appeared in TLH123 The old stones speak, the preliminary results of which suggested that the chambers might have been utilised for male ritual chanting as the range of resonant frequencies measured in the chambers matched the male vocal range. The publication of this paper is an important development as it questions conservative opinion on the function of fogous in the very heart of the archaeological establishment, "If one accepts the usefulness of the .... results, it can be seen that they have particular significance for the Iron Age site of Carn Euny, for there has been some debate concerning the function of such souterrains. Suggestions have centred on storage, refuge and ritual uses, with conservative opinion favouring the first one or two options. The acoustical evidence, however, as it stands, would support the third option, in the case of Carn Euny at least. This provides just one example of the international potential of this acoustic approach, should it be validated in future tests in archaeological contexts."

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