I find this a fascinating potential new field and it has resonance with Archaeoacoustics...
Whilst on holiday in South West France in July 2018 I booked a cave tour of Niaux Cave, the last of the 'grand' caves left open to the public. The 'grand' caves are a collection of central European caves, most in France and Northern Spain featuring the largest concentrations of paleolithic rock art. Due to deterioration from visitors over the years the caves have been closed down to the public other than for research purposes with the exception of Niaux Cave.
As this was a public tour no research was undertaken other than the opportunity to listen and to marvel at the splendour of the paintings which are truly breath taking. Our guide did mention the acoustic properties within the cave and I was prompted to ask if any archaeoacoustic research had been done in the main painted galleries found in Niaux. Our tour guide told me that some years earlier Eigor Reznikof had made recordings of the human voice, having found nothing online so far about this I hope to be able to contact Eigor directly and ask if he has any write ups of his findings and observations. The main gallery did have a spectacular reverberation and acoustic properties and would be a space not only worthy of IR recordings, but should from a future heritage archival purposes MUST be recorded for posterity. The paintings inside Niaux have survived for over 15,000 years, there may not be the opportunity for future generations to experience these first hand. I am so pleased that my teenage boys not only saw the cave paintings but thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the caves and into the foothills of the French Pyrenees. As younger children we took them to see Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dream's, the first film Herzog shot in 3D and for good reason - a film exploration of Chauvet Cave before it was sealed to preserve the paintings within for posterity. I think my boys remembered this and made the connection realising the significance of visiting the last of the grand caves still open to the public. Incidentally no photography is allowed inside the cave in an effort to preserve the 15,000 year old paintings.
Here is a link to a research paper from the American Acoustical Society that features Niaux Cave as an example with reference to Eigor Reznikoff's research. Two of the papers authors are Rupert Till and Chris Scarre. You will find reference to their work elsewhere on the website.
Link to information on Niaux Cave.
Salon Noir, Niaux Cave. Copyright Wendell Collection, Neanderthal Museum
The Pictish drum reconstruction, played by Ronnie Goodman in Court Cave, at the Wemyss Caves site.
I have been very aware of how quiet things have been here recently, this has been due to the hours of video footage and location and studio recordings that I now have to sift through and edit into some kind of publishable copy. As a follow up to recording the Lethendy/Essendy Pictish drum in the recording studio earlier this year, July saw a group of us field recording the drum in situ. at Wemyss Caves, with rather impressive results. The finished video and audio recordings will be forthcoming hopefully by the end of the year. A journal paper around the research is also planned with a hoped for publication already in mind.
I will follow up this brief post with a few extracts from the Wemyss field trip. In the meantime I cannot thank Ronnie Goodman enough for taking the time to come and play the drum on the day, accompanied by artist wife Christine who also filmed with a second camera. Also there to assist and make their own recordings were my graduate student Keith Harvey and Hannah Rennie a member of his new archaeology research group.
The rambling thoughts and musings of an audio engineer/sound designer turned archaeoacoustician