Stonehenge may have been the place to rock out at trippy Neolithic concerts of sorts — and that may explain why the mysterious circle of stones was erected.
A U.S. researcher suggests that the architects of Stonehenge were inspired by magical "auditory illusions" the stones could produce, according to a Live Science report.
Steven Waller, a researcher who specializes in the sound properties of ancient sites, is challenging common Stonehenge theories that the site was intended for spiritual worship and ceremonial burials.
He suggests that the stones were arranged to create a special sound phenomena that baffled participants of ritual piper dancing, and they may have thought the effect was supernatural.
These gatherings usually consisted of two pipers playing music with dancers encircling them.
Waller attributes this sound illusion to something called an "interference pattern." This occurs when two sound waves clash and results in people hearing a louder or softer noise depending on their location from the source.
Waller offered his speculations at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Thursday. His theory suggests that during ritual dances people would have experienced this noise cancellation and most likely attributed it to something otherworldly.
"I think they were experiencing this illusion, thinking it was magic pillars, and then constructed the actual structure," said Waller.
The scientific community is not expected to accept the largely speculative theory with open arms.
"There is no question its main axis is aligned along the mid-summer sunrise and mid-winter sunset and there is widespread agreement that it was used for cremation burials," said Mike Pitts, a leading expert on Stonehenge, to the Telegraph.
But Maller does not expect to settle this seemingly primordial mystery. Instead he simply wishes to emphasize the acoustics of archaeology in rock art like Stonehenge.
"Nobody has been paying attention to sound," Waller said to LiveScience "We've been destroying sound. In some of the French caves, they've widened the tunnels to build little train tracks to take the tourists back - thereby ruining the acoustics that could have been the whole motivation in the first place."
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