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Stonehenge may just be a giant musical instrument!

Mar 05 2014, 17:03 IST
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Stonehenge may have been the home of early rock music, according to a new study which suggests that the prehistoric monument was built as a giant musical instrument. (Reuters) Stonehenge may have been the home of early rock music, according to a new study which suggests that the prehistoric monument was built as a giant musical instrument. (Reuters)
SummaryResearchers in the UK bashed more than 1,000 types of rock and found that the bluestones, which formed the earliest stone circle, produce a unique sound.

Stonehenge may have been the home of early rock music, according to a new study which suggests that the prehistoric monument was built as a giant musical instrument.

Researchers in the UK bashed more than 1,000 types of rock and found that the bluestones, which formed the earliest stone circle, produce a unique sound.

While most rocks make a dull thud, the bluestones 'sing', researchers said.

This unique sonic property could be why neolithic men dragged the huge stones 321 km from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, to Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, 'The Times' reported.

The theory could also explain why the stones were arranged in a circle — so that the sound they made resonated.

The researchers, from the Royal College of Art, were granted access to Stonehenge by English Heritage and allowed to 'play' the structure.

"We found it was a noteworthy soundscape, with a significant percentage of the actual rocks making metallic sounds like bells, gongs, tin drums, etc, when tapped with small, handheld 'hammerstones'," said Paul Devereux, one of the leaders of the study.

"There had to be something special about these rocks otherwise why would you take them from Wales all the way to Salisbury Plain?

"The stones may have been thought to have magical qualities because of their exceptional sonic nature. We have percussionists who have been able to get proper tunes out of the rocks. This is real rock music," Devereux said.

According to Rupert Till, from the University of Huddersfield, who has made a separate study of the sounds of Stonehenge, the monument's acoustics were well known to the Victorians.

The research is published in the archaeological journal Time and Mind.

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