Over at the New Scientist, Trevor Cox has written a splendid article about the relatively new and somewhat controversial field of acoustic archaeology. Although it is easy to see how acoustical interpretations might run amok, the basic ideas are sound (sorry but I just had to) and thought provoking. It hardly beggars the imagination to suppose that the paradoxically more quiet and rich auditory environments of prehistory were symbolically charged and had ritual or spiritual significance.
Price hits this note in several places, observing that natural features such as caves have unique acoustical properties and constructed spaces such as burial chambers and temples may have been deliberately manipulated for sound. Whether such manipulations were planned or propitious after effects is a more difficult issue.
Stonehenge apparently has such properties, as Price demonstrates in this acoustical test of the inner sanctum. While this test uses a constant and easily measurable tonal emission, it would be interesting to broadcast the prehistoric equivalent of Gregorian chanting over the speaker to hear what happens.
Although we have no way of knowing what such chanting might sound like, I imagine the effects were awe inducing. In the alternative they might try a Pink Floyd soundtrack. I think the several archaeologists and musicologists mentioned in Price’s piece have tapped into something of primal importance.