Can a pyramid chirp like a bird?

El Castillo, Chichen Itza - courtesy jimg944 - CC-BY

El Castillo, Chichen Itza - courtesy jimg944 - CC-BY

Can pyramids chirp like birds?

Sure they can chirp.  They can jump up on the fence and crow too.

Well, that second item may well not be true, but there is at least one pyramid that chirps like a bird.

It is El Castillo, the great pyramid of Chichen Itza, near CanCun on the Yucatan in Mexico. A premise that the ancient Maya built their pyramids to be giant resonators producing strange and evocative sounds has been supported by teams of scientists.

The bird-call effect, which sounds like the warble of the Mexican quetzal bird, a sacred animal in Mayan culture, was first recognized by acoustic engineer David Lubman in 1998. The ‘chirp’ is triggered by a handclap at the base of the staircase.

But these echos were probably used for much greater effect than mimicing a bird call.  One example might be that since the rain god played such an important part in Maya culture, the sound effects of the pyramid could have played a major role in worship.

Striking drums at the base of the staircase creates peals of thunder that roll over the city.  As other Maya priests tramped up the steps of the pyramid, it created a flurry of pulse-like echoes that sound just like rain falling.  El Castillo has many voices and all of these sounds have been tested.

But, such meaningful interpretations may very well be fanciful.  But with the pyramid having such ability, it would take a very dim priesthood indeed to not discover and make use of such effects.

All we know for sure, is that if you clap at El Castillo, it will warble back.

For more information about Maya civilization

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