Chichen Itza Chirp – Clapping at Base of Ancient Pyramid Echoes the Call of Sacred Bird

Chichen Itza, the pre-Colombian archaeological site built by the Mayans in northern Yucatan, Mexico, is home to many architectural and cultural wonders, one of which has baffled acoustics experts for decades.

The Temple of Kukulkan is one of the most visually-striking structures at Chichen Itza, but perhaps its most intriguing characteristic is acoustic, not visual. Clapping at the base of the Mayan pyramid causes an echo that closely resembles a bird’s chirp. Do it repeatedly, or in a group, and the echos will sound like a chorus of ghostly chirps rolling down the steps of the impressive structures. It’s one of those tricks tour guides use to impress visitors, but it’s actually no gimmick. Acoustic experts have been fascinated by the “Chichen Itza Chirp” ever since it was documented by an acoustic engineer in the late 90’s, but so far no one has been able to demonstrate if the architects of the pyramid designed it with the specific echo in mind, or if it was accidental.

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