It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Complexes may have used acoustic design to broadcast—and disorient. Centuries before the first speakers and subwoofers, ancient Americans—intentionally or not—may have been turning buildings into giant sound amplifiers and distorters to enthrall or disorient audiences, archaeologists say.
Temples at the ancient Maya city of Palenque (map) in central Mexico, for example, might have formed a kind of "unplugged" public-address system, projecting sound across great distances, according to a team led by archaeologist Francisca Zalaquett of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.Zalaquett's team recently discovered that Palenque's Northern Group of public squares and temples—built around roughly A.D. 600—is especially good at projecting the human voice as well as sounds like those that would have been made by musical instruments found at the site
The Maya built many types of musical instruments, including rattling gourds filled with seeds or stones, turtle shells played with deer antlers, as well as whistles, ocarinas, modified seashells, and other wind instruments, said Zalaquett, who presented the Palenque findings at a recent meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Cancún, Mexico.
Performers and priests may have stood atop these temples or in specialized projection rooms, which still exist, to broadcast songs and chants throughout the squares. The Maya are known to have to held public rites to commemorate enthronements, births of nobles, and war victories as well as to honor deities, Zalaquett said.
Sit on the steps of Mexico’s El Castillo pyramid in Chichen Itza and you may hear a confusing sound. As other visitors climb the colossal staircase their footsteps begin to sound like raindrops falling into a bucket of water as they near the top. Were the Mayan temple builders trying to communicate with their gods?
The discovery of the raindrop “music” in another pyramid suggests that at least some of Mexico’s pyramids were deliberately built for this purpose. Some of the structures consist of a combination of steps and platforms, while others, like El Castillo, resemble the more even-stepped Egyptian pyramids.