Friday, July 04, 2008

Turns out, cavemen loved to sing, says an article headline on How, one wonders, do the modern scientists figure out such things? This article is interesting not just in that it reveals specifics of life of prehistoric civilizations, but also that it shows how scientists reach conclusions about things as nebulous as leisure preferences of long-gone civilizations. Namely,

Ancient hunters painted the sections of their cave dwellings where singing, humming and music sounded best, a new study suggests.

Analyzing the famous, ochre-splashed cave walls of France, scientists found that the most densely painted areas were also those with the best acoustics. Humming into some bends in the wall even produced sounds mimicking the animals painted there.

They did it not just for their amusement. Cave dwellers used echolocation to map out the properties of the caves, the article says.

With only dull light available from a torch, which couldn't be carried into very narrow passages, the ancient hunters had to use their voices like sonar to explore the crooks and crannies of a newfound cave.

As an aspiring science fiction writer, I'll certainly keep this article in mind when or if I try to invent an alien civilization for a story I'm writing. It provides enough inspiring details to fill out a picture of an ancient culture.

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