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Archaeology News

This was also posted in my other blog, The Art of Science:

First news item: the cave paintings at Lascaux (France) are currently being threatened by mold. One of the possible causes: bright lights. The caves have a history of threats, all directly or indirectly caused by humans. This case exemplifies the hard challenges faced with old artifacts – or just limited natural resources in general – and weighing the benefits of preservation/isolation, scientific intervention and study, and public access to knowledge and such resources.

Next up: The re-creation of musical instruments from Central America. The story discusses Roberto Velazquez, a musical historian/archaeologist/mechanical engineer who studies ancient musical instruments found in archaeological sites all over Central America and recreates them and experiments with their sounds. What is not mentioned but inferred is the spectral analysis done on these instruments in order to determine what they are made out of – clay mostly, but also feathers, reeds, frog bones? – and how to recreate them. Velazquez will also experiment with making sounds with the flutes and whistles, and some of them are really eery; there is a sound clip with samples of all the different sounds, and I was not prepared for the first sounds that they played. It was from the appropriately-named Whistle of Death, and it is creepy to put it mildly.

*Edit*: exclusive only to Complex Interplay and MSNBC: Archaeologists have determined when Odysseus finally made it home.

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