| 8 December 2009
Sound waves and ancient Maltese temples
Emerging archaeology in a new study highlighted by the Old Temples Study Foundation suggests that sound and a desire to harness its effects may have been equally important as vision in the design of humankind's earliest ancient temples and monumental buildings in Malta.
"We may be hitting on one of those 'lost secrets'," says Linda Eneix, President of The OTS Foundation, dedicated to archaeology research and education related to the ancient temples of Mediterranean Malta. Science Officer at the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum (a multi-leveled complex of caves and ritual chambers), Joseph Farrugia describes unusual sound effects in the UNESCO World Heritage Site: "There is a small niche in what we call 'The Oracle Chamber', and if someone with a deep voice speaks inside, the voice echoes all over the hypogeum. The resonance in the ancient temple is something exceptional. You can hear the voice rumbling all over."
As anyone who sings in the shower knows, sound echoing back and amplifying itself from hard walls can do unusual things. That effect is magnified several times over in the stone chambers. "Standing in the Hypogeum is like being inside a giant bell," says Eneix. "You feel the sound in your bones as much as you hear it with your ears. It's really thrilling!"
A consortium called The PEAR Proposition: Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research are pioneers in the field of archaeo-acoustics, merging archaeology and sound science. Directed by Physicist Dr. Robert Jahn, the PEAR group set out in 1994 to test acoustic behavior in megalithic sites such as Newgrange and Wayland's Smithy in the UK. They found that the ancient chambers all sustained a strong resonance at a sound frequency between 95 and 120 hertz: well within the range of a low male voice. In subsequent OTSF testing, stone rooms in ancient temples in Malta were found to match the same pattern of resonance, registering at the frequency of 110 or 111 hz. This turns out to be a significant level for the human brain. Whether it was deliberate or not, the people who spent time in such an environment were exposing themselves to vibrations that impacted their minds.
Sound scientist, Prof. Daniel Talma of the University of Malta explains: "At certain frequencies you have standing waves that emphasize each and other waves that de-emphasize each other. The idea that it was used thousands of years ago to create a certain trance - that's what fascinates me."
Dr. Ian A. Cook of UCLA and colleagues published findings in 2008 of an experiment in which regional brain activity in a number of healthy volunteers was monitored by EEG through different resonance frequencies. Findings indicated that people regularly exposed to resonant sound in the frequency of 110 or 111 hz would have been 'turning on' an area of the brain that bio-behavioral scientists believe relates to mood, empathy and social behavior. "It's logical that the ancient temple builders observed the echoes and sound characteristics in the caves and came up with the idea of recreating the same environment in a more controlled way. Were they doing it intentionally to facilitate an altered state of consciousness? There is a lot that we are never going to know," Eneix observes.
Research about Malta's Temple Culture has been documented on a DVD available from the foundation at http://www.otsf.org/Legacy.htm.
Source: PRWeb (1 December 2009)
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