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Culture & Religion

Power of the Pre-Incan Conch

This incredible culture that seemed to be able to control the senses in a way through the architecture, through the features of Chavín, and these Strombus shell trumpets.

Archaeologists and acousticians have struck an unusual partnership to understand the mesmerizing role of conches in the temple culture around Peru’s Chavín. What did it mean when, three millennia ago, the pre-Incan residents of Chavín de Huántar raised those ornately decorated conch shells to their lips in the underground corridors of their temple? A few Stanford researchers are determined to find out. “My chest was rattled, and I was nauseated for the rest of the day,” said Abel, who first heard Rick play a conch as he was standing in a stairwell. “Serious subharmonics were involved.”


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