Saturday, December 21, 2013


Six tombs built 6,000 years have just been excavated in Bac Kan Province in Northeast Vietnam, about 180 kilometers north of Hanoi. Local archaeologists used the absolute dating method on snail shells found inside the tomb to determine that the remains dated back to more than 6,000 years ago.

The items, of which four have been exposed to the open air, were found together with broken skeletons with missing skulls and teeth, said excavation team leader Professor Trinh Nang Chung of the Hanoi-based Institute of Archaeology. As the team didn't find any trace of human skulls and teeth at the site raised the hypothesis among the scientists that the corpses were victim to 'headhunting' practices in which the early peoples of Southeast Asia would steal skulls to get the power from the dead.

Two skeletons among the six were buried with cutting tools made of stone as burial belongings. The tombs were made of stones. According to researchers and scientists, the first residents of the cave were of the Hoa Binh - Bac Son culture (4,000 BCE - 5,000 BCE), whereas the last ones had lived there during the early Iron Age.

Aside from the cutting tools, hundreds of artifacts made of ceramic and stone, including jewelry, tools, ochre (a soil of yellow color, mixed with water to decorate the bodies of both the dead and the living) that represent the two cultures have been unearthed at the site.

Edited from Thanh Nien News (20 December 2013)
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Archaeo-acoustics is establishing itself as a research area within archaeology, and acoustic mapping becoming acknowledged as a valued aspect of archaeological fieldwork. In 2006, Paul Devereux and Jon Wozencroft initiated the Landscape & Perception project, a pilot study of raw visual and acoustic elements mainly on and around the Carn Menyn ridge, Mynydd Preseli, south-west Wales - the source area of some of the Stonehenge bluestones. The project asked: "What might Stone Age eyes and ears have perceived in this landscape, and what made it important to the builders of Stonehenge?".

We had a strong suspicion there would be ringing or musical rocks on Mynydd Preseli, because of early comments by 'rock gong' pioneer Bernard Fagg, and place-name clues such as Maenclochog (Welsh for ringing or bell stones), and Bellstone Quarry. According to our sampling, there is a 5 to 10 percent average incidence of ringing rocks on Carn Menyn, which in places rises to 15 to 20 percent, with small "hotspots" up to double that again.

The ringing rocks identified at Carn Menyn and the surrounding carns issue a range of metallic sounds, from pure bell-like tones to tin drum noises to deeper gong-like resonances. They can be any shape, the only common denominator being sufficient air space around them to resonate. It can be shown that the sonic properties of the Preseli stones would have been known to Stone Age ears. Whoever made those indentations on stones could not have failed to notice the stone's acoustic properties, and the cup marks may even be a consequence of repeated percussion to elicit sounds.

Many of the bluestones at Stonehenge have been struck at some point in the past - either before they were transported, prior to their erection at Stonehenge, or during their presence at the monument. A key question of the project relates to how the sonic properties of the Carn Menyn bluestones might have been a factor in their selection for the building of Stonehenge, and in July 2013 the fieldwork part of the project extended to acoustic tests of the bluestones at Stonehenge - the first time this had been done. The project team tested all the extant bluestones at the monument. Some made distinctive if muted sounds, indicating that they would have probably been full "ringers", were they not set in the ground. Two in particular were noted for such telltale sounds.

In much of the ancient world, echoes from rocks, cliffs or inside caves, rocks that made musical or metallic sounds when struck, or locations that produced unusual noises were regarded as sacred or special in some way. The ancient Chinese had "resonant rocks" which they thought contained supernatural force, and some American Indians used them for rites of passage. On the Indian subcontinent, Neolithic rock art was carved on ringing rocks, and many centuries later sophisticated musical stones were installed in Indian temples. The builders of Stonehenge may well have held similar beliefs.

Visit the Landscape & Perception project web site at

Edited from Time & Mind (2013)
[19 pages, 4 drawings, 30 images]