Friday, 04 Jul, 2008 Science

Caves With Stone Age Paintings Have Better Acoustics


The new research of the Paleolithic cave located in France, revealed that people, who lived in prehistoric times, preferred to draw their famous cave sketches in locations that have a natural resonant sound.

Researchers found at least 10 places with the prehistoric pictures of horses, bison and mammoths in which the sound of human voices, as well as the sound of musical instruments could be focused, amplified and transformed.

"In the cave of Niaux in Ariege, most of the remarkable paintings are situated in the resonant Salon Noir, which sounds like a Romanesque chapel," said Iegor Reznikoff, an expert in the acoustics of 11th and 12th century European churches, who works at the University of Paris. He was the one to lead the research. Presumably these caves were considered to be places of natural power. This brings evidence to the theory that decorated caves represented an environment were ancient people performed religious and magical rituals.

A very interesting theory, though hard to prove, is linked with the fact that the acoustic features of a cave could depend of the animals that were drawn on its walls. "Maybe horses are related to spaces that sound a certain way," exampled Mr. Reznikoff. His latest results are going to be presented at the Acoustics Society of America in Paris.

It is worth mentioning that for the first time the researcher identified the strategic positioning of the ancient drawings when he paid a visit to a paleolitic cave in Le Portel, France in 1983. When entering a cave, Mr. Reznikoff hums to himself in order to feel the sounds of the cave. He was very impressed after noticing that the humming he produced was louder and clearer in caves that featured images of animals painted by ancient people.

"Immediately the idea came. Would there be a relationship between the location of the painting and the quality of the resonance in these locations?", said the scientist.

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