A MAGICAL AEROPHONE FROM THE OLMEC INFRAWORLD?
Roberto Velázquez Cabrera
Virtual Research InstituteTlapitzcalzin
First version March 8, 2001. Last version April 21, 2004
A short version of this essay, with additional acoustical measurements was presented in the 143rd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 2 - 7, 2002.
The purpose of this work is to update a previous study [Velazquez, 2000-d] on a multi-drilled black stone artefact that was accidentally found in the office of the deceased anthropologist Francisco Beverido Pereau. Information on the device or data of its origin, material, description or classification were not located. They loaned it to me to do the first direct analysis of an ancient aerophone, taking advantage of tools and procedures proven in investigations made on experimental models, inspired by the rich heritage discovered in Mexican archaeology [Velázquez, 1999 - a, - b , 2000 - a - b and f]. The original essay is now amplified and augmented by the findings of recent consultations and experiments.
When I saw the structure of the multi-drilled device, I identified the black stone as a possible aerophone. When it was played, it was verified that with an air flow it could generate a very special sound (in Wav format). This is the main characteristic of an aerophone. The produced sound, is not musical in the Western sense. The ancient name and use of this stone whistle is unknown, although it belongs to an extraordinary Pre-Columbian family of aerophones that generated unique sounds, similar to those produced by the wind and some animals. It seems that these whistles were named Ehekachiktli, in Náhuatl, the language of Mexicas or Aztecs. The component of frequencies of their sounds and their mechanisms of generation are very similar to those of experimental models of that family of noisy devices that I have analyzed using digital spectrograms. Its special sonorous configuration - Integrated with three conical holes located in the same plane is the necessary condition for its efficient operation. These three conical holes, are difficult to emulate with a conventional drill.
There are evidences that in Ancient Mexico whistles were made with similar sonic systems, using a single piece of solid material. The Florentine Codex includes a sonorous device of this type and family, which is in the left superior corner of Photo 2, which has already has been recognized [Contreras, 1988]. In a book on sonorous devices of the West of Mexico [Dajer, 1995] a very similar "ocarina" of bone is included (Photo 3). Even recently, very similar aerophones were used by the children of my home town: similar whistles made with "corcholatas" (metal bottle-tops) of soda or beer bottles, flattened, perforated and folded Photo 4 as it is described in the study of my first whistle [Velázquez, 2000, f]. This is its sound, in "Wav" format.
In several other areas [Armengaud, 1984] similar whistles have been found: one made of soft stone (gypsum) in France, bone in Greenland, ceramics in South America and one of metal used by the children in Turkey, identical to my first whistle. There are similar whistles in other zones (see notes 1 & 2).
Few museums and collectors have old noise generators of this type, but they have not been accessible for my studies. The first investigator who analyzed such Pre-Columbian aerophones, that have been called "of spring or diaphragm of air" or "whistles of the death", was the engineer Jose Luis Franco. He also studied the aerophones of the Gulf Coast Zone [Franco, 1962 and 1971]. There are other publications of national investigators [Marti, 1968 and Castellanos, 1970] which include photographs, drawings and commentaries (based on studies of Franco) of existing aerophones of this type in museums, but have not yet included the use of digital, acoustic, signals analysis techniques of the sounds compared to experimental models and analyses of methods of construction, or conjectures upon their uses. Such devices also have been analyzed directly by international investigators who have had access to them, like Susan [Rawcliffe, 1986] who includes between her"sonorous sculptures" drawings and commentaries of "flutes" of this type, as the "chamberduct flute" the Gamitadera, also analyzed by the author.
For experimental purposes, I made and have examined more than two hundred aerophones of wind (it seems a cacophony, but with air they produce wind sounds), but not exactly like that black little stone. In a previous paper [Velázquez, 2001 - b] some "disected" aerophones of this kind are included to show their sounding mechanism.
In Santa Cruz de Arriba, Municipality of Texcoco, State of Mexico, there are some clay artisans, like the brothers Gregorio and Mario Cortés and musicians from other places, like the groups "Tribu" and " Mezme ", Antonio Zepeda, Jorge Reyes and some others, that know how to process or play some wind devices with similar principles or method of playing although of different design.
After consulting the biography of the collector of the black stone Beverido anthropologist [UNAM] and other books related to his work and the Olmec culture, some hypothesis on the origin of the analyzed stone artifact were considered [Velázquez, 2000-c].
I think that the black stone whistle could have originated in the Olmec culture, near the Gulf Coast of Mexico - perhaps in San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan, since some works and important discoveries of the anthropologist were made in that site, [Beverido, 1970]. That site is well known as one of the best old lapidary centers and the simplicity of the design indicates that its possible origin is a Pre-classic one, of more than 3,000 years ago, when it is likely that Olmecs arose in that zone as one of the first great civilizations of the American continent.
This sonic device also is unique for the material used, since it constitutes the first known aerophone of this type carved in hard stone. Considering its physical characteristics and a Manual of minerals consulted [Kurin,1976], the perforated stone seems to be ilmenite, an oxide of titanium and iron (FeTiO3). The stone (ilmenite) is a natural source of titanium and is of hardness near 5.5 - 6 in the scale of Mohs. Its color is black and its lustre is metallic. Its density is of 4.5 g/cm3. Its point of fusion is 500 degrees C. It can be diluted with sulphuric acid. One does not know how those lapidary works of art could have been made. Even at the present time the hard stone perforation is not easy, without having very hard abrasives and the proper mechanical tools. I have confirmed this with my practical experience with both ancient and modern techniques [Sinkankas, 1962] with materials of similar hardness to the black stone.
From the point of view of its organologic design, the multi-drilled ilmenite is also most unusual. The aerophone shows with clarity its internal structure, an important factor, since an x-ray is not required. It is now believed to be the smallest of this type discovered. Configuration of this type may be created using any rigid material in a single piece. No reference to aerophones of this kind are in the international systems of musical instrument classification.
Its design and structure in detail is shown in the sketch (Figure 1) with the main views and sections of the whistling artefact. The front view shows the part where sound is emitted. The section A-A´ shows the detail of its resonating central cavity and exit, as well as one of the lateral holes. The lateral view and its hole or channel is equal to that of the opposite side (4 mm in diameter). The cutting B-B´ shows the detail of the cuts of the lateral cavities of the superior and inferior part, as well as the resonating cavity and exit channel with its corresponding hole placed to the left and its closing hole placed to the right. This section is used to illustrate the form to play it, as it is in Figure 2. The three short channels and holes are centred horizontally. The front view shows the front diameter (9 mm) of the central cavity or the exit hole. It is larger than the one in the back (5 mm).
This simple sketch is relevant, since with this information it is possible to construct accurate replicas of the original (I did not find a similar sketch or drawing in the literature, among the thousands of old aerophones that have been discovered). In the best drawings, there is only one view of a cutting without the dimensions, information insufficient for accurate reproduction.
Experimental models in several materials like clay and wood were tested earlier (Photo 5), that could produce sounds similar to the original one. With this test I was satisfied that I have had enough experience to duplicate ancient aerophones and the systems to measure and analyze their sounds. Figure 2 shows the elements and scheme of functioning of the mouth-aerophone system, to produce the three millennia old sound. It should be played as shown in cutting of Figure 1, with cut B-B´, placed within the mouth, between the inner part of the lips and the tongue, which covers the back hole. The parts of the mouth-aerophone system are:
- Mouth Channel 1, formed between palate and tongue, to generate the air flow (shown with the arrow).
- Stone with the main resonating chamber B (that works like an open tube) and two holes (tubes A and C), located face to face, in a vertical axis. The inner circle of these holes can be two special circular edges, where the sound is generated.
- Mouth Cavity 2 (that can act like a Helmholtz's irregular resonator).
In principle, the sonorous mechanism can work as follows:
1. The strong airflow (coming from and showed by the arrow) flows through the upper channel A, of the stone.
2. At the exit hole A, the compressed air flow is expanded, because the main chamber B is open and has smaller pressure and diffraction occurs, because the opening is small.
3. The expanded waves go backwards to the other side of chamber B and towards the circular edge C, generating reflections to the back.
4. The strong main air flow, that comes from hole A, past throw hole C and backwards toward the mouth cavity 2, which acts like a mass-spring system, generating other reflections.
5. When those reflections cross hole C more refractions within the main chamber B are generated.
6. In few milliseconds, the combination of reflections, refraction and expansions, in both directions, with two circular edges in a reduced space, can generate a complex and turbulent dynamics of waves, pressures and sounds, producing the noise shown with virgules (Mexican pictogram or graphical symbol for all classes of beings and waving phenomena, such as the sounds).
7. The two resonating chambers amplify two groups of components of frequencies, as it is possible to be seen both in ample peaks of the spectrograms (Figures 3, 4, 5 and 6).
Such aerophone can produce other sounds, by changing of the breath and the embouchure. For example, rotated 90 degrees and placed outside and in front of the lips with the air introduced by the back hole, and closing with a finger the frontal hole, their lateral holes become the exits of the sound.
The analysis of the sound (recorded with the microphone of a personal computer with sound card type "Sound Blaster" in "Wav" format, used for "MS Windows") was made with their spectrograms. Figures 3 and 4 show the spectrograms (in 2 and 3 dimensions) of a noisy sound (1 second), played in very simple form. The spectrograms were obtained using programs downloaded from Internet [Volkner] and [Horne], same that use a routine to calculate the Fast Fourier Transformed (FFT) of the recorded signal.
The graphs show that complex components of frequency and relative intensities (in dB) are generated. The maximum levels of their tips or crests occur around 2 kHz and 6 kHz, but the generated frequencies cover an ample span from less than 20 Hertz to more than 10 kHz. As these spectrograms had previously looked like similar to those of other aerophones or of control analysis samples of bellows or wind, in both the intensity and the range of frequency. [Velázquez, 2000 - b]. It is very probable that that black little stone is an old wind device of that type. In Figure 4 it is also observed that the components of the low frequencies also have audible magnitudes. In order to see more in detail the characteristics of the signal, is the spectrogram for a given time, that is called power spectrum (Figure 5). It is interesting, that in these graphs the scale of frequencies are not linear, since they are duplicated in each eighth, as it happens in music. This must be because the used program was a tuner of musical instruments. As the intensities occur in dB, in a logarithmic scale, representation near the properties of audibility, they do not represent a linear scale either.
Using another program [Liansong], used frequently in technical analysis of signals, another graph (Figure 6) with the frequencies and amplitude in linear scales was produced. With this scale and the use of other units of amplitude (EU**2 instead of dB), notice with greater clarity the large components of frequencies of greater intensity or their tips, since the low levels are reduced considerably. Notice that the 4 peaks correspond to the 4 resonating chambers of the system mouth-stone (A, C, B and 2 of Figure 2). The greatest peak corresponds to the main chamber B.
Recently, a very interesting article was consulted on "The multi-drilled devices of ilmenite of San Lorenzo " [Cyphers and Castro, 1995] (see note 3). Its content supports the previous hypothesis on the culture, area of origin, antiquity and material of the analyzed device, as they are similar. The authors mention the discoveries of other similar devices of ilmenite in structure. The most relevant are: a) 6 complete stones and one incomplete were found to the north of Monument 17, a Colossal Head located to the east of the South center of the peninsula of San Lorenzo [Coe and Diehl, 1980] (see notes 4 & 5); b) 10.000 complete stones almost all were found in the "hinderland" of San Lorenzo, nearly 4 km to the south of the central region, in the secondary Loma Zapote site, at a side of the sedimentary river, possibly of inferior Pre-classic Inferior; c) Nearly 150,000 or more than 4.5 tons of devices were found in the site "ilmenites A4", in three concentrations. The previous sites are Olmeca zones and; d). 2,000 black stones without holes, including 24 broken stones with holes and one complete with three holes were found in Plumajillo, Chiapas [Agrinier,1989].
The authors provide some descriptive data of the multi-perforated devices in ilmenite of San Lorenzo. The little black stones have four coarse regular faces and in their ends two irregular square faces. The pieces vary in their size and weight, from 1.5 cm by 1.8 cm to 5.4 cm by 2.5 or and 9 g to 110 g. the so large average is of 2-3 cm by 1.5 cm. Each ilmenite has three perforations that go from 0.5 cm to 1.5 cm in diameter. In all, the sequence of the perforations is the same and ilmenites without perforations were not found.
In addition, they provide relevant opinions, among which the following ones are included. The raw material could have been transported from other zones, like Chiapas [Agrinier, 1989]. The finished stones may have been used by select groups of the elite and made using specialized technology. They mention that in previous articles the found ilmenites had been commented but that they had not been analyzed. Among the previous hypothesis of the old uses of the ilmenites the following ones are mentioned: pendants for personal adornment, drill stones for making fire, weights for fishing nets or counterbalances of átlatl and as a hammer. The authors provide their own hypothesis: they think that the stones were used as manual supports for drills or other applications that require rotation like spinning processes and the making of ropes. Several holes were made because multi-perforated and broken stones are reused and discarded devices.
The mentioned uses are possible, but they would have to be confirmed by experimentation. Nevertheless, I think that to make those utilitarian functions only one hole in the stone is required and their special structure of three holes and its alignment in a plane are not necessary. As the stone perforated more than once consumes vastly more time in the process of construction of that device, it is improbable that they made non necessary holes.
In order to make holes in hard stone several procedures exist, that could be used in the antiquity. One, is to use a rotating cutter of some suitable material (as hard wood, bone, metal or stone) with stone sand or abrasive grain and some agent (like water or oily or greasy material) to be used like lubricant, coolant and agglutinate of the abrasive material. Another one, is to use a cutter of stone or solid crystal of equal or greater hardness to the material to be cut. In this last case it is not required the grain abrasive. In both cases a drill is needed to drive the cutter and the abrasive on the stone to perforate. There have been manual drills of several designs that were adapted to make and to control the perforation process. In my opinion, they could make fine lapidary works, among other reasons, because the careful and slow work was one of the main attributes of the technologies used by Pre-Columbian artisans.
Since it is not advisable (and could be a criminal offence!) to make lapidary experiments in the original piece and it was not practicable to obtain pieces of ilmenite in the rough, I selected a stone available with some similar physical characteristics. iztete or ixtete (as it is called in Jalisco) was selected, obsidian (it is black and of hardness 5 - 5,5). A copy of the obsidian whistle was made (Photo 6) to estimate the time required in the perforation process of its three holes, I used an electrical drill to accelerate the work, an iron rod as cutter, silicon carbide as abrasive, water as lubricant and coolant, a container for the water and the abrasive and a press to fix and to align the stone. It took nearly 8 careful working hours in the first perforation process of the obsidian. This indicates that for the manual perforation weeks or months of work may be required, depending on the tools and the abrasives, as well as the ability of the operator.
The same material was used to analyze the hypothesis that the device could be drilled manually using a string bow and stick with abrasives. The stone must be of a suitable size (near 5 x 5 x 1 cm) to be held by hand with comfort for a prolonged time of operation. (Photo 7). The real size of the analyzed ilmenite (3 x 2 x 1 cm) is not conveniently held by hand. In one hour of operation, using an electrical drill, the friction between obsidian and the wood smoothed and polished the internal surface of the hole of the stone. Like the internal surface of the ilmenite is not very polished, it can be deduced that it was not processed in that way.
Also, I experienced with other soft stones, like marble. It was proven that the copies can produce similar sounds and the required time to make a hole in those materials with the same procedures and tools, is only of minutes. That raises the doubt on the possible reason to have selected a hard stone and resistant to natural phenomena. A possible reason of the old use of hard stones is that they wanted the devices to last long time or for always. It is thought that the hard stones were considered of great value and required to process essential utilitarian, ceremonial, ritual or sacred objects.
The control of the perforation work must be done with great care, since several pieces in that process were broken (Photo 8) when a little pressure with the cutter was applied. The design of the structure of the device makes it very fragile in the axis plane of its holes. An internal pressure, a blow or the heat can break the piece in the part near that plane. The fragility of its structure could explain the existence of many stones perforated or semi perforated rejects. The fragile structure also makes it improbable they were made for uses other than as sonic devices.
Conclusions and recommendations.
The most relevant work to be done is to ascertain whether the ilmenites of San Lorenzo have sonic properties. I think that it is feasible, at least, for most of the perforated and non broken stones of San Lorenzo, since the description of their internal structure seems to agree with the analyzed ilmenite that has sonorous properties. The discovery of massive number of similar devices gives more importance to the studies on their properties and the possible cultural dispersion of the aerophones. When it is practicable to investigate samples of the found ilmenites and to record their sounds, they are then available for the analysis of groups of complex signals, for instance, the characterization of sounds or curve fitting, as it was used in the last Virtual Study of Mayan Whistles [Velázquez 2001 - a].
It is recommended that all the techniques of micro analyses are available in order to find small mechanical traces or marks indicating the possible use or methods of manufacture of the ilmenite artefacts [McDonald Institute]. It seems that studies of stone aerophones have not previously existed in the literature, it is important to examine the surfaces of the ilmenites and to make abrasive experiments with diverse methods and materials for purposes of comparison. The simple visual analysis of the ilmenites with perforation signs can serve to obtain information on their construction or use. For example, if the broken ilmenites show that they do not have the three finished holes, it means that they were broken during the perforation process. In that case are the stones broken during the lapidary experiments of the author mentioned previously and the "Fragment samples of pieces worked in ilmenite and magnetite, originating from the archaeological site of Plumajillo " shown in Photo 4 of the reference study [Agrimier, 1989, p 25].
If it is recognized that the ilmenites are sonic devices, the next question concerns the use of its richly colored noise. The old sonorous devices had many uses [Velázquez, 2000 - f], but there are evidences [Garret and Statnekov, 1977] that the whistles could be used to generate trascendental states for religius or therapeutic intents as subsonic beats (ostinato, or interference) produced when groups of whistles are played simultaneously. Some infrasounds can be considered to be of the infra world, since the normal human being, in this world, cannot hear them. The infrasounds are those sounds whose fundamental frequencies are given in the inaudible range, lower than 20 Hertz. It is known that in some ancient cultures the infrasounds were used to improve the health of the people -such as overtone (Mongolia) and Japanese Reiki pracrice or the Chinese masters who heal with their hands. It is a well-known medicine like Qi, that now is applied with electronic devises. Patented, proven audio systems exists, like the "Semi-Sync" [Monroe Institute] and some others, that use two stereophonic signals and white or pink noise or some natural noise, to generate subsonic beats in the brain, which can help to improve the physical and mental health of the people. Those applications really seem magical.
To prove those uses, in the case of the ilmenites and those of their noisy Mexican relatives, is a matter of continuing research. It is relatively simple to make experiments with groups of those whistles, since it is only required to process similar models, but these experiments must be made with rigor and care, since the noise and the infrasound also can be dangerous to health. In addition, the noise is undesirable in many cases, as it happens in music, the output is not amenable to analysis. Incidentally, it is interesting to note that the military have investigated the death-dealing properties of high energy infrasound and the method of propagation [Vassilatos]. Powerful weapons exist that use fatal infrasound, denominated "black noise" are inaudible when they are generated but when applied to human beings cause massive damage to all the internal organs. Robots are required to handle them, to avoid harming human operators.
In order to repeat the aerophone analysis experiments the only requirements are a personal computer with a sound card and a microphone. These techniques have not even been utilized by the traditional archaeologists, the anthropologists or the ethnomusicologists, to whom I recommend this methods improve their own disciplines. Such methods may also serve to analyze less complex sounds - those of ancient and modern musical instruments - other well-known aerophones - like old whistles, ocarinas and flutes, as proven in the analyses of Tlapitzalzintli Mexica 130 and the even older musical sound, of a flute of bone of China of 9,000 years [Velázquez, 2000 - e].
The used approach, may serve to generate a methodology of analysis of ancient aerophones, since no other is known to exist. A paper was published from the point of view of the acoustics [Menchaca and Velázquez, 2000], considering as an example the data of the author's study on the extraordinary " Gamitadera " [Velázquez, 2000 - b], that has three resonating chambers and also produces colored noise. Near San Lorenzo, in Soteapan the "Gamitadera " eas found; and; in that same zone, in Catemaco even today there are some healers and shamans who use old techniques (Photo 9).
It is advisable to analyze, using a complete methodology, all the aerophones of this family, stored in various museums, to enable the generation of their monographs and to make comparisons and correlation among them and their sounds.
The detailed dynamics of the production system of sounds of this type of aerophones is not yet clear and requires further research. From the mathematical point of view, it seems that this system belongs to the field of the models of stochastic-not-linear-dynamic systems, since they operate in a wide range of vibrations, pressures and non periodic waves of sound, within three very small chambers and two special circular edges, like a chaotic and turbulent process. This class of mathematical models is in the border of several advanced fields of the knowledge of the investigators, like the generation of complex sounds, the dynamics of vortex, dynamic of turbulent flows, simulations with computers and scientific visualization. It has not been possible to pursue all these fields, in the case of the old aerophones, since I did not then discover institutions with laboratories, equipment and personnel suitable and available to undertake the recommended formal tasks of investigation.
It has been my experience that helping to investigate the rich, forbidden and forgotten mexican organology for five centuries, it can serve to rescue, to recreate, to enhance the discovery of a fine millenarian art, taking full cognizance of intricate sonic systems and sonorous designs. For example, with a little imagination and manual work several anthropomorphous and zoomorphous whistles with Olmec mechanism of sound generation, decoration and style were designed and constructed whit sandy clay of that zone (Photo 10) which emit noise from the mouth with the breath introduced through an orifice. True lapidarian sonorous jewels have been created Photo11, elaborated in pink opal, a beautiful and singular hard stone from Jalisco, México.
Photos of the ancient olmec black stones are shown in a page of San Lorenzo´s Archaelogical Ruins, by George And Audrey DeLange.
The essay was posted for open public consultation in several forums and some experts related with the Olmec aerophone were informed. The relevant messages and remarks were included in the following notes:
1. The paper was posted in Musical Instruments Makers Forum [MIMForum] and in [Ocariba Club from Yahoo] for open discussion and I got some comments, indicating that similar whistles were used in several zones of the world:
A). Uli Wahl from Germany, expert on [Kite aeolian musical instruments], informed of several references, (in addition to a previous reference [Armengaud, 1987]:
"Pierres chantantes" (singing stones), Gaston Tissannier, in La Nature (a magazine) no. 629, 20 juin (June) 1885. But, recently Uli told me that it is an article about a piano made of silex stones.
"Sifflets ardennais en pierre" (Stone whistles from the Ardennes), R.I., Doize; In: Bulletin de la Société Royale Belge d'Études Géologiques et Archéologiques, 1938.
It seems that such whistling artifacts, from metal or the kernels of stone fruits (Sardinia/ Italy) but also out of ceramics made by local potters, can still be found in Italy or in Spain. The ceramic objects are called "fiscaluru" in Italy. In Apulia and the Abruzze mountain, the shepherds give signals to their dogs and herds/ flocks and also "speak" from man to man.
Uli, also informed me about "The Kilmartin Sessions" CD. The sounds of ancient Scotland. The CD is from a museum [Kilmartin]. It includes the sounds of some stone whistles. They say that: These stones are entirely natural. The first, found on Skye, has a single low note made by blowing across the naturally weathered hole. The second is a remarkable stone found on the beach at Killiney in Ireland. Here the naturally formed cavity has a number of holes leading into it, with the result that it is like an ocarina and can play several notes. Nothing has been done to this stone beyond blowing the sand out of the holes. Similar, though simpler, flint flutes have been found in Jutland, slightly improved by the man's hand and dating from 2,000 BC.
B). Adrew Beals, shellac fanatic, commented: "Your sonic pink opal looks an awful lot like a Scottish/English shepherd's whistle, usually used to help with one's Border Collies. They're a folded over circle with a hole at the top and bottom with space in between the halves, just like your pink opal."
2. Ann Cyphers and Anna di Castro were informed about the paper and the related works. Ann Chypers is one of the best experts on the Olmec culture and she is in charge of the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan research project from the Instituto de Investigaciones Antropolígicas (IIA), UNAM, including the 4.5 tons. of ilmenites that they found in that archeological site. But, the acoustical analysis of those multi-drilled stones is not possible if the persons in charge of the project at the IIA are not interested.
3. Chris Morrison sent the following message:
"I very much enjoyed your papers on ancient stone whistles. My Uncle Prof. Arden Lanham is quite a collector and maker of Clay whistles. Having looked at his large collections over the years I have become very familiar with various types and how they work. I am a collector of rock minerals. Last year I found a three inch by one inch quartz stone in an area 1/4 mile from an old Indian village by San Francisco Bay This stone is out of its natural area by 20 miles so it was of interest to me to pick up. I knew right away that it was a whistle (Natural-Geo-Fact or man made?) I think it was natural and then refined as I have found natural quartz with holes inside on the coast thirty miles away. But this one is unique... It has one cavity with two internal channels encased within the stone; a left and right one longer than the other. At the mouth of the whistle is a small clear quartz crystal tooth which is a natural part of the stone. The outside area of both sides to me shows signs of wear in the spots to be held when playing. Seeing that, I knew it was a whistle right away. I took it home and washed out what was sand in the chambers, put it to my mouth at the proper angle (As my Uncle had shown me on many of his). After a few minutes I hit a certain angle and there was the sound very much like your "wave example" but much louder, enough to hurt ears close buy and to be detected from afar. If you like I can send you pictures, recording and a more detailed report for your files. Please feel free to pass this information on to others my name is Chris Morrison address P.O. Box 376 Tiburon, California 94920 Thank you for your time and wonderful educational Web sites."
As the case seems relevant and unique, because it is the first known whistles made of quarz, we produced a paper on the Tiburon Whistle.
4. Recently, the first information and fine remarks from experts on cultures of the Ancient Mexico came from Dr. [Michael D. Coe], CJ Mac Curdy Professor Emeritus Curator Emeritus, Peabody Museum, Anthropolgy at Yale Professor Coe discovered several "multi-drilled beads" at San Lorenzo and the anthropologist Beverido worked with him in San Lorenzo:
"The aerophone that you have been investigating was probably found at San Lorenzo, the great Olmec site on the Coatzacoalcos River in Veracruz that Paco Beverido and I excavated back in the 1960s. It dates to about 1200-900 BC, and is made of either magnetite, hematite, or ilmenite (all iron ores that can be polished). These are the same substances out of which the Olmec made their concave mirrors."
"I once called them "multi-drilled beads", but had little idea of their use. I found a cache of them near the Colossal Head known as Monument 17, but many, many more have been excavated more recently by Ann Cyphers for UNAM. They have also been found in sites of comparable date in Chiapas by the New World Archaeological Foundation. You can find illustrations of the San Lorenzo samples in Vol. 1 of "In the Land of the Olmec", by myself and Richard A. Diehl."
"Incidentally, they are quite magnetic."
"Your musical experiments with this object are fascinating -- and convincing."
The original report from Prof. Coe was published in a paper on "San Lorenzo and the Olmec Civilization" for the Dumbarton Oaks Conference on the Olmecs in October 28-29, 1967. Dr. Coe commented that near the Colossal Head (Monument 17) "Caches of multi-perforate, magnetite beads (we have also found fragments of these in San Lorenzo domestic rubbish) were recovered near the head, and it seems that these are the objects, connected by cords, which are depicted on the helmet of this head".
In the Fig. 14 of that report, the main radiocarbon dates for San Lorenzo are in the Early Formative period (1400 - 800 b.C.).
5. The second message came from Dr. [Diehl, Richard A.], a Mesoamerican archaeologist and co-author of the book "In The Land of the Olmec":
"I suppose my first question would have to be, Just how big was the wind section of the San Lorenzo Philharmonic? Ann Cyphers says she has uncovered tens of thousands of the enigmatic drilled iron ore "beads" or whatever. However I think your idea is one that has to be taken seriously. I would love to attend the session on ancient acoustics but will not be able to make it to the meeting. By the way, a few years ago I served as Acting Director of the University of Alabama School of Music for one year while they conducted a search for a new Director."
The question from Dr. Diehl is very important. When I read the paper from Dr. Cyphers I had a similar question. It seems that those extraordinary Olmec artefacts are the ancient similar man-made stones that were found in bigger quantity, and their sonic properties were unknown and the corresponding organlogical/acoustical abilities of the Olmec masters). I think that those Olmec aerophones could be played in big groups, because they are not very loud. Recently, we could made some acoustical measurements and calculations. To give an idea, in relation to musical instruments, the estimated radiated acoustic power is nearly 0.01 Watts, which is less than those of French horn & clarinet (0.05 W), the flute (0.06 W) and the piccolo (0.8). Even those louder modern musical instruments are well listened in orchestras or bands, when they are played alone or in a group.
The estimated power level of the Olmec aerophone is a relevant parameter, because the design can be improved. Experimental models can produce easily 0.3 Watts (similar that the Bass Saxophone), like the "Olmec" little face made of clay, included in the paper (Photo 10).
However, the Olmec aerophones can be listened at bigger distance because their pitch is in the range of maximum sensitivity of humans (1-4 kHz), like many ancient and modern whistles.
6. Baz Jennings, an expert in ocarinas [Ocarina originators] provided corrections for the last English version of the paper.
7. Dr. [Clark, E. John], Director of BYU's New World Archaeological Foundation, based in Chiapas, Mexico, Department of Anthropology, Brigham Young University (BYU), provided the following interesting information and remarks:
"Thanks for bringing your research to my attention. You have already been informed about all of the finds. A professor here at BYU did a technical analysis of these things a few years back and wrote a small piece. His name is Steve Jones in the physics department. What if these things were used more as bull-roarers? They could be tied through one of the holes, and their weight would serve well to get the rotary motion going and having the main sound come from the friction of the cord on the resin covered stick. If they would whistle at various velocities and string length, so much the better. It would be marvellous if each cube had to be played by a different person."
It is possible that those drilled stones were used as roarers or to generate other kind of biological sounds. And the chorus of those artefacts, played by big groups, may be very impressive.
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