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Underground Maze of Eerie Echoes

The Chavín may have used acoustic design in their architecture to manipulate sound and confuse visitors beneath the Chavín de Huántar. Underneath this ancient site in the Peruvian Andes lies a stony underground maze that could possibly have been designed not only to amplify sound, but to disorient minds. This 3,000-year-old structure served as a ceremonial center with all of its underground rooms connected by air ducts and twisted passageways.

During an excavation at Chavín, researchers noticed that the long, twisty corridors played acoustic tricks with the human voice and with sounds made by instruments found at the site, including marine-shell trumpets, which produce sounds similar to a roar when blown. Standing in the ceremonial site is like being in a labyrinth. The way the rooms echo makes it seem as if a sound is coming from every direction at once.

"If you walk and talk in the galleries, you hear your voice changing as you go through," said archaeologist John Rick of Stanford University.

This revelation of strange sounds and a complicated floor plan leads researchers to believe the Chavín de Huántar was purposefully built this way to disorient people. Based on these clues at the site, Rick and his team think the maze was used as part of an initiation rite into the Chavín religion.

Text Source: Than, Ker. "Ancient Maya Temples Were Giant Loudspeakers?" National Geographic News Dec. 2010.
Photo Credit:
  • Design Pics Inc/National Geographic Creative