Stonehenge Inspired by Sound Illusion, Archaeologist Suggests
Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 16 February 2012 Time: 05:04 PM ET
The reason for Stonehenge's construction is unknown.
CREDIT: Albo, Shutterstock
If two pipers were to play in a field, observers walking around the musicians would hear a strange effect, said Steven Waller, a doctoral researcher at Rock Art Acoustics USA, who specializes in the sound properties of ancient sites, or archaeoacoustics. At certain points, the sound waves produced by each player would cancel each other out, creating spots where the sound is dampened.
It's this pattern of quiet spots that may have inspired Stonehenge, Waller told an audience Thursday (Feb. 16) in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The theory is highly speculative, but modern-day experiments do reveal that the layout of the Stonehenge ruins and other rock circles mimics the piper illusion, with stones instead of competing sound waves blocking out sounds made in the center of the circle.
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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