Sunday, March 28, 2004

Tom Corbett, Space Geek

Rock music - literally - is not a new thing.
Archaeologists have rediscovered a huge rock art site in southern India where ancient people used boulders to make musical sounds in rituals.

The Kupgal Hill site includes rocks with unusual depressions that were designed to be struck with the purpose of making loud, musical ringing tones. ...

The boulders which have small, groove-like impressions are called "musical stones" by locals. When struck with small granite rocks, these impressions emit deep, "gong-like notes".

These boulders may have been an important part of formalised rituals by the people who came there.

In some cultures, percussion plays a role in rituals that are intended for shamen to communicate with the supernatural world. The Antiquity work's author, Dr Nicole Boivin, of the University of Cambridge, UK, thinks this could be the purpose of the Kupgal stones.
The site was first described in 1892 but subsequent explorations couldn't find it, so this is truly a rediscovery.

However, the site is threatened by quarrying.
Modern-day commercial granite quarrying has already disturbed some sections of the hill. A rock shelter with even older rock art to the north of Kupgal Hill has been partially destroyed by quarrying.

"It is clear government intervention will be required to elicit effective protection for the majority of the sites in the [area] if these are not to be erased completely over the course of future years," writes Dr Boivin in Antiquity.
The song says "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." Slowly, slowly, we seem to be learning the lesson of valuing what is past, the better to understand how we got to be where we are and who we are. UNESCO's World Heritage sites program is an example of an organized effort toward that end. If you haven't heard of it, check it out.

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