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Ancient acoustic engineers used stucco, drugs, and architecture to rock and confuse audiences

Trent Wolbe

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It's always fun when scientists discover new stuff about really old cultures, especially when it has to do with getting weird and rocking out. Recent research suggests temples built around 600 A.D. in Palenque, Mexico were designed with projection rooms that shot the sound of voices and instruments 300 feet away with the help of stucco-coated surfaces. 1600 years before that, in the Peruvian Andes, a pre-Incan society in Chavín was constructing a nightmarish Gallery of Labyrinths to play "strange acoustic tricks" during cult initiations: animal-like roars from horns, disorienting echoes, and maybe even choirs designed to produce otherworldly effects. And all of this while the poor inductees were being fed psychedelic San Pedro cacti. Yikes! To a certain extent this is all speculation, but we can tell you that if we were ancient priests with this kind of gear at our disposal we'd be using it for mind-controlling purposes too. Just because!

[Photo adapted from Jenny Pansing's flickr]

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