Above: Chavín site, Plaza Mayor, from North-East.
Photo: José Luis Cruzado Coronel
OPEN ACCESS in ECOS Volume 3, Number 1 (2022):
NÚMERO ESPECIAL del Simposio Regional de Acústica y Expoacústica 2021
Estudios arqueoacústicos basados en experimentos hecho en los sitios arqueológicos Chavín de Huántar y Huánuco Pampa, Perú hacen posible la preservación de información pertinente en entender las posibilidades de la comunicación sonora en estos sitios de gran importancia a la historia Andina. Para la interpretación arqueológica, relacionamos la dimensión física del sonido con sus potencialidades perceptivas humanas, haciendo nuevos descubrimientos antropológicos. Las metodologías nuevas por documentar, preservar y reconstruir el patrimonio auditivo se aplican en diversos sitios incluyendo trabajos en sitios históricos en los EE.UU. y en cuevas decoradas del Paleolítico superior en Francia – todo importante al record de patrimonio auditivo, un termino que estamos desarrollando en práctica y publicaciones.
Archaeoacoustical studies based in experiments made in the archaeological sites of Chavín de Huántar and Huánuco Pampa, Perú make possible the preservation of information pertinent to understanding the sonic communication possible in these sites of great Andean importance. For archaeological interpretation, we relate the physical dimension of sound with its human perceptual affordances, to make new archaeological discoveries. The new methodologies to document, preserve, and reconstruct aural heritage are applied in diverse sites including work in historical sites in the United States and in decorated caves from the Upper Paleolithic in France –– all important to the "aural heritage" record, a term that we are developing in practice and publications.
"Experimentos acústicos y estudios de actuación con los pututus de Chavín de Huántar: Evidencias de su expresividad en relaciones entre seres diversos en un centro ceremonial del periodo Formativo"
Miriam A. Kolar, Riemann Ramírez Rodríguez, Ricardo Guerrero de Luna Rueda, Obert Silva Espinoza, Ronald San Miguel Fernández
Presentation at the Primer Congreso Internacional de Etno y Arqueomusicología, July 2021
SUMILLAExpresiones musicales en el sentido de la producción de una diversidad de sonidos y gestos sonoros no son típicamente asociado con pututus o bocinas de concha marina, que son más conocido como instrumentos de toque, para hacer señales a través de largas distancias. Los 21 pututus de Titanostrombus galeatus excavado del complejo monumental Chavín de Huántar, de contextos asociados del medio milenio a.e.c. y de su Plaza Circular, ofrecen una oportunidad de medir su acústica, documentar una larga gama de sus posibilidades sonoras y probar su similitud con las réplicas que usamos en experimentos de actuación en el sitio arqueológico. Ofrecemos un resumen de nuestra investigación reciente con estos instrumentos, que documenta sus características actuales y que animan las representaciones de actuación de pututus en el arte lítico del sitio. ABSTRACT
Musical expressions in the sense of the production of a diversity of sounds and sonic gestures are not typically associateed with pututus or sounding conch shells, which are better known as instruments for signaling across long distances. The 21 Titanostrombus galeatus pututus excavated at the Chavín de Huántar monumental complex, from contexts associated with the mid-millenium B.C.E. and the Circular Plaza, offer an opportunity to measure their acoustics, document a large range of sonic possibilities, and test their similarity to the replicas that we use in performance experiments in the archaeological site. We offer a summary of our recent investigations with these instruments, that document their actual characteristics and animate the representations of pututu performance in the lithic art of the site.
Presentation and Panelist at the VII Congreso Nacional de la Arqueología de Perú, October 2020
SUMILLADesde las primeras investigaciones arqueoacústicas en Chavín de Huántar en 2008, hasta nuestros trabajos de campo en 2019, hemos producido datos basado en la activación experimental de materiales, y preguntas nuevas sobre un sustrato de comunicación: el sonido. Documentamos las ínter-dinámicas acústicas entre materiales arqueológicas, arquitectura y contextos ambientales, con observaciones sensoriales. Durante este breve resumen, presentaré una síntesis de resultados de varios años de estudios acústicos en la Plaza Circular, el canal Rocas debajo y desde las conexiones físicas y materiales con la galería del Lanzón. Mediciones acústicas y pruebas con pututus Strombus como réplicas de los instrumentos excavado del sitio revelaron mecanismos acústico-arquitectónico para mensajería multimodal. ABSTRACT
Since the first archaeoacoustical investigations in Chavín de Huántar in 2008, through our 2019 fieldwork, we have produced data based in the experimental activation of materials, and new questions regarding a communication substrate: sound. We document the acoustical interdynamics between archaeological materials, architecture, and environmental contexts, also with sensorial observations. During this brief summary, I will present a synthesis of results from several years of acoustical studies in the Plaza Circular, the Rocas Canal below it, and with physical and material connections with the Lanzón Gallery. Acoustical measurements and tests with Strombus pututus that are replicas of the instruments excavated on the site revealed architectural-acoustic mechanisms for multimodal messaging.
Presentation at the 60th Annual Meeting of The Institute of Andean Studies, January 2020
Sonic communication facilitated ideological transmission and cosmological projections at monumental Chavín. Materials, objects and places transform sound that can be reconstructed, measured, and quantified archaeoacoustically. Graphically portrayed and site excavated, the Chavín pututus marine conch shell horns whose performance potential exceeds normative definitions convey anthropic-ecological relationships with wind and water, beyond their elemental associations. Interdynamical use-function explorations of these ritual instruments in well-preserved site settings reveal anthropological evidence corroborated yet subsumed in non-sonic analyses. My study leverages iconographical and situational evidence in an exploration of the role of pututus in the positioning of humans and the ordering of human-environmental relations at Chavín.
OPEN ACCESS in the Yale Journal of Music & Religion Article 4, Volume 5, Number 2 (2019): Music, Sound, and the Aurality of the Environment in the Anthropocene: Spiritual and Religious Perspectives
Pututus (conch-shell musical horns) are known in the Andes as annunciatory devices enabling their players to call across long distances. However, the sonic and gestural versatility possible in pututu performance constitutes dynamical evidence for nuanced archaeological interpretations of these multifaceted and ritually associated instruments. Pututus were documented in texts with drawings created during the Spanish conquest and colonization of the Andes, and intact shell horns have been excavated from monumental architecture in Perú preceding the Inca by more than two millennia. At the Andean Formative center at Chavín de Huántar, Perú, whose well-preserved ceremonial complex was active during the first millennium BCE, pututus were depicted in stone and on decorated ceramics. To date, 21 intact shell horns have been excavated at this UNESCO World Heritage site. The use-worn, identity-projecting, and symbolically notched Chavín pututus provide physical and acoustical evidence for functional interpretations of a multimodal ritual communication technology. In this article, I take a cross-disciplinary approach to examine the Chavín pututus with respect to site archaeology and its particular Andean highland setting, exploring the intersection of their materiality and dynamical potential, in context.
Chavín’s built environment and associated materials evince past strategies for environmental negotiations that foreshadow present-day discourse regarding the Anthropocene. I argue that Chavín’s site-excavated Strombus pututus were tools for ritual communication that link diverse ecologies with human interventions toward environmental control. Intrinsic to site ritual, the Chavín pututus were pivotal in the expression of human-ecological (re)positionings. Archaeological engagement of both sonic and environmental concerns is at stake in my exploration of human-environmental interdynamics and their conceptualization, rooted in the material culture of monumental Chavín and its setting. The human-environmental positionality of Chavín’s monumental architecture relates to the ecological materiality of pututus in their anthropic transposition from marine animal to (super)human vocal transformer and proxy: a technology of air transformation and wind interaction as well as sound production. Environmental interventions via Chavín architecture and performance using these multimodal instruments manifest strategic realizations of human dominance while communicating negotiation within its flow-directing ritualscape. The Chavín pututus harbor cosmological significance whose details are mired in the uncertainty of archaeology, yet whose materiality conveys reference and function: they are communication instruments that interrelate humans and ecosystems. In the ancient Andes, the Chavín pututus functioned as ritual technologies for humans asserting agency in ordering their cosmos.
"Archaeoacoustics Fieldwork for Aural Heritage Conservation: Collaborative Distributed Sound-Sensing at Chavín de Huántar, Perú"
Miriam A. Kolar, Annie Goh, Elías Gálvez-Arango, Brian Morris, Alexa Romano, Samantha Turley, Sophia Colello, William Penniman, Jack Boffa, Celine Wang, Gregory Depaul, Kevin Keene
In Change Over Time: An International Journal of Conservation and the Built Environment Volume 9, Number 2 (2019): Sounding Heritage
Although sound has been featured in archaeological narratives about the UNESCO World Heritage Centre archaeological site at Chavín de Huántar, Perú since 1976, aural heritage preservation has not yet been incorporated in its conservation plan beyond the formal inclusion of archaeoacoustics in the research program since 2008. Our research framework situates sound as fundamental to human communication and the social functionality of places; sonic concerns are pertinent to heritage conservation more broadly than currently addressed. In this article, we present a theoretical framework and methodology for aural heritage research, engagement, and conservation. Our case-study discussion of 2018 fieldwork at Chavín builds on a decade of site-responsive archaeoacoustics research that has documented acoustical dynamics as well as perceptual and performance affordances of the extant architecture and site-excavated conch-shell horns (Strombus pututus) preserved since the mid-first-millennium BCE. The aural heritage fieldwork method we introduce here, “collaborative distributed sound-sensing,” employs both human observers and digital technologies to explore, document, measure, and map sound transmission and reception at Chavín, via reconstructive “performance auralizations” of archaeologically appropriate sound sources, Strombus shell replicas of the Chavín pututus.
Presentation at Music Archaeology of Latin America a special two-day seminar
Senate House, University of London, November 2019
Conch shell horns, known as pututus in the Peruvian Andes, are delimited throughout archaeological and heritage discourse as signaling instruments. Powerful acoustical interdynamics with Andean settings have overshadowed their flexibility as expressive sound producers. Pututus drive experimental music archaeology research at the UNESCO World Heritage site at Chavín de Huántar, Perú, a monumental center active during the first millennium BCE. More than 20 engraved and playable Strombus pututus have been excavated at Chavín along with depictions of their performance. Archaeoacoustical, performative explorations with pututus at Chavín reveal diverse ritual functionality through their activation of built environmental acoustics. Dynamical study explicates material evidence for pututus' pivotal role in linking the diverse ecologies represented within Chavín's flow-directing ritualscape. In their anthropic transposition from marine animal to (super)human vocal transformer and proxy as ritual communication tools for air transformation and wind interaction the Chavín pututus harbor cosmological significance; instruments of human-environmental relations, sounding across time.
Presentation at the Britsh Forum for Ethnomusicology and Societe francaise d’ethnomusicologie
Joint Autumn Conference 2019
Music, Sound, Space and Place: Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies
Department of Music, City, University of London
Re-animating archaeological materials via sonic performance inspires novel investigatory processes and interpretative techniques, leveraging and re-situating theoretical and practical tools from diverse disciplines. Sound studies, ethnomusicology, archaeology, anthropology, and acoustical, auditory, and soundscape sciences meet performance studies and audio engineering, among other transdisciplinary adoptions for integrative archaeoacoustics research at the UNESCO World Heritage site at Chavín de Huántar, Perú. A highland gathering center whose monumental architecture was developed during the first millennium BCE, Chavín's reputation as the "sounding temple" derives from built acoustical features, dynamically activated in reconstructive performance experiments via replicas and auralizations of its site-excavated and depicted Strombus pututus (conch shell horns) that provide acoustically and performatively specific evidence for ancient sound production. Post-disciplinary, perhaps, yet fundamentally ethno-archaeomusicological, site-responsive sonic-reconstructive explorations of Chavín's well-preserved built environment and its Andean setting bolster an archaeometric approach with tools, techniques, and ideas adapted from non-archaeological fields, renovated in sonic archaeological fieldwork. Whereas musical definitions and assumptions have systematically circumscribed the exploration and valuation of sonic concerns in archaeological contexts, especially where there is evidence for sound-producing/musical instruments, Chavín's material archaeology challenges facile assertions about conch shell horns, especially their normative delimitation as signaling instruments. The Chavín pututus would have facilitated nuanced and multimodal human-performed/human-proxying (musical?) expression, optimized to, and informed by a diversity of sonic environments. Re-sounding pututus at Chavín with attention to related archaeological materials and to material dynamics within both the constructed environment and its Andean highland setting engages archaeological, sonic, musical, and human concerns beyond the bounds of disciplinary strictures.
Presentation at the 59th Annual Meeting of The Institute of Andean Studies, January 2019
Conch shell horns, pututus, have engaged the human senses from Andean prehistory to the present. Systematic soundings of instruments in plausible use contexts permit both qualitative and quantitative description of instrument-setting-performer relationships. Embodied production of archaeological knowledge that can be heard and felt creating sensory opportunities as well as acoustical science connects material archaeology with various forms of understanding. In archaeoacoustical experiments with Strombus pututus throughout the monumental core at Chavín de Huántar, and on and around the central platform at the Inca administrative center Huánuco Pampa, archaeologically significant sound sources enliven site environments to demonstrate place-based dynamics and map communication potential.
"Sensing Sonically at Andean Formative Chavín de Huántar, Perú"
Miriam A. Kolar
Archaeoacoustics operationalizes non-verbal sound as means and medium for communication. In reconstructing physical, environmental features of ancient places, we infer their consistent sensory reception across the six-digit timeline of Homo sapiens, yet cognition is contextual. How can we reasonably estimate ancient sonic experiences in prehistoric archaeology? Is it possible to infer the significance of sound for past humans who have left no textual traces? Systematic auditory localization experimentation and other archaeoacoustics research within the extant architecture of the Andean Formative ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar, Perú has demonstrated specific ways in which ancient built acoustics transform humans' understandings of place and social relations. Transposing principles from information theory to explore the structuring of Chavín's sonic environment, I argue that sonic symbols that parallel in-situ visual depictions are architecturally encoded at Chavín, constituting multi-channel messaging. For example, the plausible evocation of a roaring cayman through hydraulic-sonic enactment of Chavín's so-called 'acoustic canal' creates a sonic incarnation of that visually depicted crocodilian. Chavín symbols, delivered redundantly and repetitively via multiple, simultaneous sensory channels, would ensure assimilation by ritual participants. If, as evidence suggests, Chavín drew visitors from diverse polities, messaging to a multi-lingual population would necessitate non-linguistic communication, through sensory manipulation in its unique 'ritualscape'.
Presentation in Session 4pAAa:
"Architectural Acoustics and Speech Communication: Acoustic Trick-or-Treat: Eerie Noises, Spooky Speech, and Creative Masking", at the Acoustical Society of America 168th Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, 30 October 2014.
Acoustic wave interference produces audible effects observed and measured in archaeoacoustic research at the 3,000–year–old Andean Formative site at Chavín de Huántar, Perú. The ceremonial center’s highly–coupled network of labyrinthine interior spaces is riddled with resonances excited by the lower–frequency range of site–excavated conch shell horns. These pututus, when played together in near–unison tones, produce a distinct "beat" effect heard as the result of the amplitude variation that characterizes this linear interaction. Despite the straightforward acoustic explanation for this architecturally enhanced instrumental sound effect, the performative act reveals an intriguing perceptual complication. While playing pututus inside Chavín’s substantially intact stone–and–earthen–mortar buildings, pututu performers have reported an experience of having their instruments’ tones "guided" or "pulled" into tune with the dominant spatial resonances of particular locations. In an ancient ritual context, the recognition and understanding of such a sensory component would relate to a particular worldview beyond the reach of present–day investigators. Despite our temporal distance, an examination of the intertwined acoustic phenomena operative to this architectural–instrumental–experiential puzzle enriches the interdisciplinary research perspective, and substantiates perceptual claims.
Presentation in the Symposium: "The Ephemeral, Sensed Past: Archaeological Approaches to Sound and Human Experience", Dianne Scullin & Miriam Kolar, Co-Chairs, at the Society for American Archaeology 79th Annual Meeting, Austin, 24 April 2014.
Archaeoacoustics provides a channel through which experiential aspects of past human life might be accessed. Knowledge of physical dynamics, derived from the material remnants of past places, objects, and other artifacts of human actions, enables present-day evaluation of ephemera such as sound. Psychoacoustics, the science of sonic perception and cognition, can be employed in archaeological research to estimate human experiential implications of acoustic dynamics of environments, spaces, and objects. Experiential estimations may be made by applying findings from relevant experimental studies, or by conducting site-contextualized subjective experiments, either in situ where conditions permit testing, or in the lab using computational simulations known as auralizations. Although such sonic reconstructions are potentially useful as research tools and for knowledge sharing, as with any virtualization of reality, interpretative and presentational factors are problematically intertwined. Auralization might, therefore, be considered a mode of engagement with archaeological data. To illustrate theoretical concerns, methodologies, and applications, case-study examples are given here, based on data from acoustic measurements and auditory localization experiments conducted within the ceremonial architecture at the Andean Formative complex of Chavín de Huántar, Perú.
Essay for NAUTILUS: science, connected.
Ancient people are thought to have consulted an oracle at Chavín, yet until recently, few clues pointed to the nature of this oracle. Now, archaeoacoustic research--sonic science applied to archaeological evidence--has revealed secrets built into Chavín's architecture, unlocked by the sound of conch shells that were buried for millennia.
Essay for The Appendix: a new journal of narrative and experimental history.
Sound--because it's experiential--is an ephemeral artifact of spaces and objects that we can use to better understand past life. Scientific research techniques based on material evidence of the distant past give detail about the less apparent aspects of sound that are fundamental to human experience. Such findings permit reconstructions that can further illuminate elemental characteristics of ancient sound environments.
Integrative archaeoacoustics advances a methodology in which the physical dynamics of anthropogenic spaces and musical/sound-producing instruments are comparatively studied and anthropologically considered with respect to an archaeological context. Applied in ongoing research about the Andean Formative ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar, Perú, this case study examines relationships among diverse forms of evidence from an ancient ritual setting while seeking relevant ethnographic data from present-day sources. Chavín's well-preserved architecture and site-excavated instruments (Strombus galeatus conch shell horns) allow direct acoustic testing and measurement, and provide material bases for perceptual evaluation by human participants in systematic studies. Site-contextualized psychoacoustic research, implemented via on-site auditory localization experiments and in progress for testing of virtual reconstructions, constitutes a methodical approach to the study of human experiential dynamics, a problematic and frequently neglected area in archaeological inquiry. Using this approach, we pose a framework for probing the interconnections among material culture, physical dynamic processes, sensory phenomena, and human experience, here applied in the investigation of sonified ritual in ancient Chavín.
Presentation in the Symposium: "Ritual Innovation, Material Culture, and Environment in Formative Chavín de Huántar, Peru", John Rick, Chair, at the Society for American Archaeology 78th Annual Meeting, Honolulu, 5 April 2013.
Recent archaeoacoustics fieldwork at the 3,000-year-old Andean Formative Period ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar, Peru has produced new physical dynamical evidence to characterize the site's ancient sound environment. We present findings from acoustic measurements of extant architecture, site-excavated sound-producing/musical instruments, and from tests performed on replica instruments in the exterior complex and its landscape setting. Our integrative methodology explores interrelationships among instrumental and environmental acoustics, and allows us to consider and test their human auditory perceptual implications. Results substantiate a new case for architectural acoustic use and design within a ritual framework.
Presentation at the Institute of Andean Studies 53rd Annual Meeting, U.C. Berkeley, 11 January 2013.
Psychoacoustics is an experimental science that examines auditory perceptual and cognitive responses of living beings to sound. While established principles can inform research, systematic experimentation permits the site-contextualized evaluation of perception across a group of participants. Recent auditory localization experiments conducted within the Chavín galleries initiated in-situ human perceptual testing of interior architectural acoustic effects at the complex. Comparative analysis of measured acoustic data with psychoacoustic experimental evidence provides an empirical basis for reconstructing specific experiential dynamics at this Andean Formative ceremonial center. Findings support the premise of intentional and strategic manipulation of sensory experience at Chavín.
Article published in Flower World -- Music Archaeology of the Americas, Vol.1, 2012.
This study of ancient sound-producing instruments within a comprehensive archaeoacoustic investigation is greatly enhanced by an integrative methodology that explores interrelationships among instrumental and environmental acoustic dynamics, and considers their auditory perceptual implications. The 3000-year-old Andean Formative Period ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar presents both Strombus galeatus marine shell horns known as pututus and well-preserved architecture, whose acoustics can be tested, measured, and computationally modeled. Comparative acoustic measurements of site instruments and architecture, further informed by on-site psychoacoustic experimentation, provide information about the auditory environment experienced by ritual participants in ancient Chavín. We present findings that demonstrate an architectural acoustic mechanism specifically linking the Chavín pututus to the area of the Lanzón Gallery and Circular Plaza, focal in this reputed oracle center. We propose a sounding oracle, and how it could be given voice.
Este estudio sobre instrumentos sonoros, llevado a cabo en el marco de una investigación arqueoacústica comprensiva, se beneficia de una metodología íntegra que explora las interrelaciones entre las dinámicas instrumentales y ambientales y sus implicaciones auditivas. El centro ceremonial de Chavín de Huántar, Perú, un sitio arqueológico del Periodo Formativo, con una antigüedad acerca de 3000 años, presenta tanto cuernos de caracoles marinos, Strombus galeatus, denominadas pututus, como también una arquitectura bien preservada, dos hechos que permiten realizar pruebas y mediciones y desarrollar modelos computacionales. Medidas acústicas comparativas, completadas por una experimentación psicoacústic, proveen datos sobre el ambiente auditivo experimentado por quienes participaban en los rituales del antiguo Chavín. Nuestros resultados demuestran un mecanismo acústico que relaciona los pututus de Chavín con el área de la Galería del Lanzón y la Plaza Circular, punto neurálgico en este centro considerado como un sitio de oráculo. Planteamos la idea que se trataba de un oráculo sonoro, y mostramos cómo éste posiblemente llegó a tener voz.
"A Computational Acoustic Model
of the Coupled Interior Architecture of Ancient Chavín"
Regina E. Collecchia, Miriam A. Kolar, and Jonathan S. Abel
Research presented at the Audio Engineering Society 133rd Convention, San Francisco, CA, 26-29 October 2012.
We present a computational acoustic model of the well-preserved interior architecture at the 3,000-year-old Andean ceremonial center Chavín de Huántar, Perú. Our previous model prototype [Kolar et al. 2010] translated the acoustically coupled topology of Chavín gallery forms to a model based on digital waveguides (bi-directional by definition), representing passageways, connected through reverberant scattering junctions, representing the larger room-like areas. Our new approach treats all architectural units as "reverberant" digital waveguides, with scattering junctions at the discrete planes defining the unit boundaries. In this extensible and efficient lumped-element model, we combine architectural dimensional and material data with sparsely measured impulse responses to simulate multiple and circulating arrival paths between sound sources and listeners.
Presentation at the Archaeological Sciences of the Americas Symposium (ASAS), Vanderbilt University, 5-6 October, 2012.
Recent and ongoing archaeoacoustics fieldwork at the 3,000-year-old Andean Formative Period ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar, Perú provides a framework for studying the acoustic dynamics of extant architecture, sound-producing instruments, and landforms. Examples from this comprehensive investigation at Chavín illustrate the application of acoustic principles, specification and use of equipment, and implementation of measurement and analysis techniques, via field methods including 1) spatial and instrumental acoustic impulse response measurements, 2) musical/sound-producing instrument performance and recording, 3) binaural recording, and 4) on-site auditory perceptual experiments with human participants. Our multidisciplinary approach advances comparative methods that integrate acoustic and psychoacoustic research with other archaeological data. Results illuminate plausible interrelationships between ancient sound environments and humans, and substantiate a new case for a sounding oracle at Chavín.
Presentation in Symposium "Archaeoacoustics: Did Ancient Civilizations Use Acoustic Design To Create Powerful Ritual Spaces?" at the 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting. Vancouver, Canada, February 2012.
A group of 20 spectacularly decorated, playable Strombus galeatus marine shell trumpets or "pututus" were excavated in 2001 at the 3,000 year-old Formative Period ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar, Perú, whose intact architecture gives these instruments plausible acoustic venues that can be studied today. We advance a methodology based on comparative acoustic measurements of site instruments and architecture, further informed by on-site psychoacoustic experimentation, to provide information about the auditory sensory environment experienced by ritual participants in ancient Chavín. Material evidence from this Andean site indicates foundational interest in sensory experience: iconography portrays transformed humans morphed with powerful animal forms; artifacts illustrate psychoactive plants, and include the tools used to process and ingest them; profoundly enclosed interior architecture is characterized by confined spaces connected by long corridors and staircases, which direct occupant movement through multi-level, maze-like constructions; numerous horizontal ducts interlace the complex and allow light manipulation; architectural features produce areas of strong acoustic resonance and modify sound level and quality. From this archaeological context, we present a comparative study of the acoustics of the Chavín pututus and architecture, showing how specific locations in the Chavín complex favor the frequency range and selected articulations of the pututus, which supports hypotheses regarding ritual use of site construction, as well as founds the difficult case for intention in acoustic design. This novel multidisciplinary research approach is extensible to other archaeological contexts.
"Acoustics, Architecture and Instruments in Ancient Chavín de Huántar, Perú"
Miriam A. Kolar, Perry R. Cook, Jonathan S. Abel, John W. Rick; with demonstration by José Luis Cruzado Coronel
Presentation at XII Congress ICTM Study Group for Music Archaeology, Sound and Ritual: Bridging Material and Living Cultures. University of Valladolid, Spain, September 2011.
A group of 20 spectacularly decorated, playable Strombus galeatus marine shell trumpets or "pututus" were excavated in 2001 at the 3,000 year-old Formative Period ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar, Perú, whose intact architecture gives these instruments plausible acoustic venues that can be studied today. The cached location of the instruments, along with examples of site iconography depicting pututus, viewed with knowledge of shell trumpets across ancient and modern contexts, suggests their ritual importance and use potential; notably, the stylistic variety in iconography engraved on these pututus evinces diversity of identity, while their similarly worked forms and collocated resting place point to unity in ritual purpose. In this new work, we advance a methodology based on comparative acoustic measurements of site instruments and architecture, informed by on-site psychoacoustic experimentation, to provide information about the auditory sensory environment experienced by ritual participants in ancient Chavín. Material evidence from this Andean site indicates foundational interest in sensory experience: iconography portrays transformed humans morphed with powerful animal forms; artifacts illustrate psychoactive plants, and include the tools used to process and ingest them; profoundly enclosed interior architecture is characterized by confined spaces connected by long corridors and staircases, which direct occupant movement through multi-level, maze-like constructions; numerous horizontal ducts interlace the complex and allow light manipulation; architectural features produce areas of strong acoustic resonance and modify sound level and quality. From this context, we introduce a comparative study of the acoustics of the Chavín pututus and architecture, and present measurement-based hypotheses regarding the sonic components of ritual in an ancient ceremonial complex.
"Acoustic Analysis of the Chavín Pututus (Strombus galeatus marine shell trumpets)"
Perry R. Cook, Jonathan S. Abel, Miriam A. Kolar, Patty Huang, Jyri Huopaniemi, John W. Rick, Chris Chafe, John M. Chowning
Invited paper presented at 2nd Pan American/Iberian Meeting on Acoustics, Cancún, México, November 2010.
In 2001, twenty Strombus galeatus marine shell trumpets were excavated at the 3,000 year-old ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar, Perú, marking the first documented contextual discovery of intact sound-producing instruments at this Formative Period site in the Andean highlands. These playable shells are decorated and crafted for musical use with well-formed mouthpieces created by cutting the small end (spire) off and grinding/polishing the resulting opening. The shells are use-polished, and additionally modified with a v-shaped cut to the outer apical lip. We present an acoustic analysis of the measured response of each instrument, to a variety of excitations, at microphones placed in the mouthpiece, player's mouth, bore, bell, and surrounding near-field. From these measurements we characterize each instrument's sounding frequencies (fundamental and 1st overtone where possible), radiation pattern, and impedance, and we estimate the bore area function of each shell. Knowledge of the specific acoustic capabilities of these pututus allows us to understand and test their potential as sound sources in the ancient Chavín context, whose architectural acoustics are simultaneously studied by our research group.
"A Modular Computational Acoustic Model of Ancient Chavín de Huántar, Perú"
Miriam A. Kolar, Jonathan S. Abel, Ritesh Y. Kolte, Patty Huang, John W. Rick, Julius O. Smith III, Chris Chafe
Invited paper presented at 2nd Pan American/Iberian Meeting on Acoustics, Cancún, México, November 2010.
First Place, Best Student Paper Award in Architectural Acoustics
Inspired by on-site observations and measurements, a computational acoustic model of the interior architecture of the 3,000 year-old ceremonial center at Chavín de Huántar, Perú is presented. The model addresses the foundational study by Lumbreras, González and Lietaer (1976) which posited an acoustic system integral to Chavín architecture involving "a network of resonance rooms connected by sound transmission tubes". We propose a translation of the topology of Chavín gallery forms to a modular computational acoustic model based on bi-directional digital waveguides, representing the corridors and ducts, connected through reverberant scattering junctions, representing the small rooms. This approach combines known architectural dimensional and material data with representative measured acoustic data, thus economizing the collection of impulse response measurements required to accurately simulate site acoustics. Applications include virtual acoustic reconstruction of inaccessible or demolished site structures, and auralizations of hypothesized architectural forms, allowing any desired sound sample to be "played back" in the modeled acoustic context.
"Impulse Response Measurements in the
Presence of Clock Drift"
Nicholas J. Bryan, Miriam A. Kolar, Jonathan S. Abel
Paper presented at the Audio Engineering Society 129th Convention, San Francisco, 4-7 November 2010.
ABSTRACTThere are many impulse response measurement scenarios in which the playback and recording devices maintain separate unsynchronized digital clocks resulting in clock drift. Clock drift is problematic for impulse response measurement techniques involving convolution, including sinusoidal sweeps and pseudo-random noise sequences. We present analysis of both a drifting record clock and playback clock, with a focus on swept sinusoids. When using a sinusoidal sweep without accounting for clock drift, the resulting impulse response is seen to be convolved with an allpass filter having the same frequency trajectory form as the input swept sinusoid with a duration proportional to the input sweep length. Two methods are proposed for estimating the clock drift and compensating for its effects in producing an impulse response measurement. Both methods are shown to effectively eliminate any clock effects in producing room impulse response measurements.
"A Configurable Microphone Array with Acoustically Transparent Omnidirectional Elements"
Jonathan S. Abel, Nicholas J. Bryan, Travis Skare, Miriam Kolar, Patty Huang, Darius Mostowfi, Julius O. Smith III
Paper presented at the Audio Engineering Society 127th Convention, New York City, 9-12 October 2009.
ABSTRACTAn acoustically transparent, configurable microphone array with omnidirectional elements, designed for room acoustics analysis and synthesis, and archaeological acoustics applications, is presented. Omnidirectional microphone elements with 2 mm-diameter capsules and 1 mm-diameter wire mounts produce a nearly acoustically transparent array, and provide a simplified mathematical framework for processing measured signals. The wire mounts are fitted onto a 1.6 cm-diameter tube forming the microphone stand, with the microphones arranged above the tube so that acoustic energy can propagate freely across the array. The wire microphone mounts have some flexibility, and the array may be configured. Detachable arms with small speakers are used to estimate the element positions with an accuracy better than the 2 mm microphone diameter.
"Auditory Implications of Gallery Acoustics at Chavín de Huántar"
Miriam A. Kolar, John W. Rick, Jonathan S. Abel, Patty Huang, Julius O. Smith, John M. Chowning, Perry R. Cook
Presentation at Institute of Andean Studies 49th Annual Meeting, Berkeley, CA, 9 January 2009.
The archaeological record provides evidence for the pivotal role of Chavín de Huántar in the Andean evolution of social inequality, in part via legitimization of authority through sensory manipulation. To understand auditory implications of site design, we are measuring, quantifying, and archiving extant acoustics, and creating computer models to enable comprehensive objective evaluation. Preliminary studies confirm that architectural features of galleries at Chavín create acoustic conditions that obscure auditory localization cues. Such indications of structure-based auditory disorientation are consistent with sensory manipulation being a factor in design, and ground inferences regarding the contextual potential of the Chavín Strombus trumpets.
"On the Acoustics of the Underground Galleries of Ancient Chavín de Huántar, Peru"
J. S. Abel, J. W. Rick, P. Huang, M. A. Kolar, J. O. Smith, J. M. Chowning
Invited paper presented at Acoustics '08, Paris, France, July 2008.
Chavín de Huántar is a monumental World Heritage archaeological site in the Peruvian highlands, predating Inca society by over 2000 years. The importance of site acoustics is suggested by distinctive architectural features, notably an extensive network of underground galleries used in part for ritual purposes. The labyrinthine galleries are stone-walled and arranged in a series of small rectangular alcoves off narrow corridors. In this work, we initiate research that seeks to understand how the acoustics at Chavín may have influenced auditory experience.
Acoustic measurements and models of a site can be used to archive site acoustics, estimate the acoustics of inaccessible or alternative site architectures, and reconstruct the acoustics of modified or damaged sectors; they may also corroborate aspects of rituals suggested by other archaeological data. Preliminary measurements at Chavín show a short reverberation time, dense and energetic early reflections, and low inter-aural cross correlation. The short reverberation time would enable rhythmically articulated playing of Strombus shell trumpets found on site. The early reflection patterns would provide strong acoustic reinforcement and resonances in gallery alcoves. The wide soundfields would provide a sense of spaciousness and envelopment, contributing to ritual experience.