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27 December 2008
Acoustics unlock clues to Stonehenge, lecturer says

A British lecturer says he is slowly unravelling the truth behind Stonehenge by using an innovative approach. Dr Rupert Till, an expert in music technology and acoustics, is using cutting-edge acoustic technology to try to decode the secrets of the stones and expose aspects of Neolithic culture previously only guessed at.
His research shows certain sounds would have been more easily produced and encouraged, which could give an insight into what kind of activities took place at the site.
     Dr Till said: "There are two main theories about what Stonehenge was used for one is that it was a healing space, the other that it was a place of the dead, both implying ritual activity. Our research shows that there are particular spots in the site that produce unusual particular acoustic effects, intimating that perhaps a priest or a shaman may have stood there, leading the ritual." He also said the study may tie the two main competing theories together as rhythms were discovered that point to a place of healing and of dead. "Archaeologists have been able to gather evidence about the tools that were used and the way the stone was shaped, but everything is usually based on visual aspects of the site, and it's important to look at other elements too," he said. "Stonehenge is unique now, but at the time there would not have been anything quite like it in Europe, and it had a very unusual sound. By simulating this sound we can hope to understand more about English culture from 5000 years ago, and perhaps better understand both our ancestors and our culture today."

Source: This is Wiltshire (21 December 2008)

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