Sound Postcard

Posted February 2, 2022

This month we turn our ear to the (very) distant past. Archeologists have long been fascinated by England’s famous Stonehenge Circle and similar stone structures – how they were built, how they were used, their deeper meaning and significance to ancient societies. Now scientists are analyzing the acoustics of these structures to better understand what early cultures would have experienced. Acoustic engineers at the University of Salford built a complete 1:12 scale model of Stonehenge using computer-aided design techniques and then tested the model in a sound laboratory, similar to modeling tests of concert halls and opera houses. Their studies suggested that four thousand years ago, the strong reverberations of musical instruments such as drums and horns would have been amplified when played in the monument’s inner sanctum, but these sounds would have been less audible to anyone outside the circle. To learn more: Journal of Archaeological Science.