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The Acoustic Raindrop Effect at Mexican Pyramids: The Architects' Homage to the Rain God Chac?

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Mesoamerican pyramids have been in the center of attention ever since their discovery by westerners because of their architectural beauty, their physical connection to ancient Indian cultures, their relationship to astronomy and religion or simply because of their monumental size and attractive decor for tourist pictures. An acoustic effect first encountered by Declercq (reported in J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 116(6), 3328-3335, 2004) is the raindrop effect. When visitors climb the colossal staircase of Maya pyramids, their footsteps are transformed into sound having distinct frequencies similar to raindrops falling in a bucket filled with water. The current paper reports in situ experiments followed by numerical simulations of the raindrop effect together with a physical explanation. In addition to numerical simulations, a rule of thumb formula is extracted from the calculations that enable the prediction of the acoustic raindrop frequency at any other pyramid in Mexico. If the raindrop effect is a phenomenon that was intentionally incorporated in the construction of the Maya pyramids, such as the pyramid in Chichen Itza, then it was most probably related to the rain god Chac for which there is ubiquitous archaeological evidence decorated on the pyramid itself.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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