In SF#86/43*, we reviewed R. Waller's acoustical measurements
at ancient rock-art sites in Europe, North America, and Australia.
Waller claimed that some rock art was intentionally placed where
echos from the walls are not only exceptionally loud but are also
qualitatively related to the art's subject matter, such as running
The Newgrange chamber, with acoustical nodes and antinodes. Antinode occur at the chamber's stone walls.
In a similar venture, R.G. Jahn et al have taken sound generators
and meters into the chambers of six ancient structures and measured
their acoustical properties. The sites selected were: Wayland's
Smithy, Chun Quoit, and Cairn Euny, all in the U.K.; Newgrange,
and Cairns L and I, Carbane West, all in Ireland. All of these
sites date back to about 3,500 BC. The chambers were all bounded
by roughly hewn stones, but they had very different configurations.
Newgrange was cruciform (see sketch); others were rectangular,
beehive, and petalshaped. Quoting the abstract from the Princeton
report, here is what the acoustical surveys found:
"Rudimentary acoustical measurements performed inside six
diverse Neolithic and Iron Age structures revealed that each sustained
a strong resonance at a frequency between 95 and 120 Hz (wavelength
about 3m). Despite major differences in chamber shapes and sizes,
the resonant modal patterns all featured strong antinodes at the
outer walls, with appropriately configured nodes and antinodes
interspersed toward the central source. In some cases, internal
and exterior rock drawings resembled these acoustical patterns.
Since the resonant frequencies are well within the adult male
voice range, one may speculate that some forms of human chanting,
enhanced by the cavity resonance, were invoked for ritual purpose."
In a few cases, it appeared that some of the standing stones had
beeen intentionally positioned to enhance the chamber's acoustical
properties. (Jahn, Robert G., et al; "Acoustical Resonances
of Assorted Ancient Structures," Technical Report PEAR
95002, Princeton University, March 1995. Devereux, Paul, et
al; "Acoustical Properties of Ancient Ceremonial Sites,"
Journal of Scientific Exploration, 9:438, 1995.)
Comment. Apparently, humans living over 5,000 years ago
were rather sophisticated in their ability to manipulate sound
to impress audiences. This talent has not been lost; for example,
*We will cross-reference SF items with both issue number (#00)
and page number (/00) in the book Science Frontiers,
which collects the first 86 issues of SF. For orders of the latter,
"A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980
"An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
"..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983
"Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987