I was hugely flattered by an email communique last week from Linda Eneix, the chair and motivating force behind the Old Temples Study Foundation and the last 3 international Arcahaeoacoustics conferences. I was emailing Linda a link to my website and blog. A day later Linda responded asking me why archaeoacoustics was ahead of the curve in this field and did she think I had anything to do with! I was very flattered but my humble response being that while I am an advocate for this subject area of research, I can not be help responsible for an parent nationwide upturn in research interest.
Having said that of 3 papers all being presented at the next international conference, my own among them. I have consulted with Michelle Walker, an archaeology student on her PHD project regarding field recording methodologies, another paper presentation comes from one of my own undergraduate students who undertook a mammoth research project recording in nearly all of the cathedrals on the UK mainland. As well as these I am consulting with another PHD student Shona McGill, University of Glasgow, regarding her proposed field recording of IRs in Fingal's Cave.
Linda discussed in her email that she was hoping that towards the end of the next conference that an approach towards a standardised methodology can be discussed and that my own experience, research and practices are presented. Linda and I also discussed our love of the island archipelago of Malta and the fact that it was through the first conference that I discovered and fell in love with this tiny mediterranean island and have returned 3 times since. Linda has been going and conducting tours nearly annually since the mid nineties!
A few thoughts regarding the field of archaeoacoustics. Having conjectured about this recently I believe that the study of archaeological soundscapes and acoustics has emerged from a pseudo science into a fully fledged field of study going hand in hand with the emergence of digital technologies. When author Paul Devereux coined the term in the 70's the subject was of niche interest and a footnote to archaeology based more on physical artifacts and visual observations. However as digital processing technologies have advanced and become ever more complex and sophisticated the potential we now find and the possible emergence of VR technologies is and will continue to advance this into a serious field of scientific analysis. Creativity and imagination still play a large part in our re-imagining of our past and the multi-sensory experiences of their environment our ancestors enjoyed. Indeed I once wrote in a paper that early paleolithic cave dwellers in caves such as those found at Chauvet in the South of France may have been the equivalent of the modern day i-Max cinema. As fires illuminated the cave art they created of various indigenous animals and made them "dance" one can imagine chanting and if not drumming in a conventional sense, then percussion and chanting may have played an equally important part in creating a multi-sensory experience of transcendence.
The rambling thoughts and musings of an audio engineer/sound designer turned archaeoacoustician