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“Witchcraft” is the result of acoustic resonance at the Devil’s Church

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A team of archaeologists from the University of Eastern Finland have proposed that “witchcraft” at the Devil’s Church is the result of acoustic resonance.

The Devil’s Church, also known as Pirunkirkko, is a 34-metre-long crevice cave located in the Koli National Park, Finland. In the vicinity are several other caves referring to the devil, such as Pirunluola (“Devil’s Cave”), Pirunvaara (“Devil’s Mountain”), and Pirunkallio (“Devil’s Rock”).

For centuries, the Koli mountain range has been revered as a realm inhabited by spiritual entities. The peaks, named Ukko-Koli and Akka-Koli, pay homage to the pre-Christian thunder god and his consort, reflecting their significance in local mythology.

Archival sources from the Finnish Literature Society (SKS) tell of “mountain elves,” “invisible fairies,” and “great lords” that move in the area:

“The inhabitants of the mountain only play and yell there, and walk through the woods, and dance and play and drive with the bells along the mountain ravines. There’s a kind of crack where they play and walk. It is said that an iron road passes via the crack through the mountain of Koli, all the way from Taipale.”

Devil’s Church : Image Credit : University of Eastern Finland

According to tradition, the Devil’s Church was a meeting place for shamans known as tietäjä, velho, or noita, who came from Finnish and Karelian agricultural communities to contact the spirit world, heal the sick, and bring balance to people and nature.

The most famous shaman was Kinolainen, also called Tossavainen, who would gather “patients” in the cave to commune with the Devil to find the causes and cures of their ailments.

Modern shamans still carry on the tradition to this day, and like their historical counterparts, they use the unique acoustic properties of the cave during incantation and singing rituals. The sages also shouted, raged, jumped, kicked, and trembled, as if fighting with or intimidating invisible forces.

In a paper published in the De Gruyter Open Access journal by Riitta Rainio from the University of Helsinki, and Elina Hytönen-Ng from the University of Eastern Finland, the researchers investigate whether the cave acoustics could have played a role in the ritualisation of the Devil’s Church and the power of its rituals.

The study used an impulse response recording and spectrum analysis, revealing a distinct resonance phenomenon that amplifies and lengthens sound at a specific frequency. According to Rainio: “Acoustic measurements conducted in the corridor-like cave show a strong resonance phenomenon.”

“The phenomenon is caused by a standing wave between the smooth parallel walls, generating a tone at the natural frequency of the cave, 231 Hz, that stays audible for around one second after sharp impulses, such as clapping, drumming or loud bangs. Tones vocalised in the cave near the 231 Hz frequency are amplified and lengthened by the cave,” added Rainio.

According to the researchers, these particular acoustics and rituals are not solitary acts but are rather collaborative engagements with the physical surroundings and the natural environment. The reverberations facilitate a profound connection and exchange with a presence or entity beyond human, affirming their existence and signalling their active participation.

The study of acoustics also gives new tools for examining and understanding the religious beliefs and experiences reported in Pirunkirkko and similar places. In addition, the study illustrates how cultural frameworks of thought guide our sensory perceptions leading to different experiences and interpretations.

Header Image Credit : University of Eastern Finland

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr

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A recent study by archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Newcastle has revealed new insights into the domestic activities of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Star Carr.

Star Carr is one of the most significant and informative Mesolithic sites in Europe, which during prehistoric times was situated near the outflow at the western end of a palaeolake known as Lake Flixton.

Today, Star Carr lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.

Using microscopic evidence from the use of stone tools, the researchers found that a range of domestic activities took place in three previously excavated structures. This includes activities related to working with bone, antler, hide, meat, and fish.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, used a combination of spatial and microwear data to provide different scales of interpretation: from individual tool use to patterns of activity across the three structures.

Dr Jess Bates, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology said: “We found that there were distinct areas for different types of activity, so the messy activity involving butchery, for example, was done in what appears to be a designated space, and separate to the ‘cleaner’ tasks such as crafting bone and wooden objects, tools or jewellery.

“This was surprising as hunter-gatherers are known for being very mobile, as they would have to travel out to find food, and yet they have a very organised approach to creating not just a house but a sense of home.

“This new work, on these very early forms of houses suggests, that these dwellings didn’t just serve a practical purpose in the sense of having a shelter from the elements, but that certain social norms of a home were observed that are not massively dissimilar to how we organise our homes today.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Bates J, Milner N, Conneller C, Little A (2024) Spatial organisation within the earliest evidence of post-built structures in Britain. PLoS ONE 19(7): e0306908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0306908

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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