MadSci Network: Engineering

Re: Is it possible to playback 'recordings' made in ancient pottery?

Date: Sun Jan 16 19:05:05 2000
Posted By: Abtin Spantman, , Electrical Engineering, L. S. Research, Inc.
Area of science: Engineering
ID: 946853106.Eg

Absolutely positively YES.

Hi John:

The only question that popped into my mind was the angle that the article 
was written in - was it leading towards technology from outer space, or 
Earth-bound electrical devices, or Earth-bound mechanical devices.  My 
guess is that if (and I emphasize: if)the technology was somekind of music 
recording, then it was probably a mechanical device of some sort. 

If I were a primative Egyptian type of guy, I would perhaps come up with a 
device that had two prongs in parallel, attached to a long reed, which was 
then attached to a cup with a paper type of material on one face. 

For ease, I would place the pottery on it's side, and spin it along it's 
central axis. One of the prongs would be weighted, and would hold the 
mechanism at the right height with respect to the  surface of pottery. The 
second prong would have a sharp point that would ride inside the track 
(sound grooves)and would move back and forth along the groove, making 
vibrations. The long reed would act as a mechanical amplifier for the 
movements and vibrations, which would then get transfered to the cup and 
vibrate the paper end. The cup would act as the sound chamber.

A simple optical device, a low-tech high-resolution camera, can be made to 
read the optical heighlights from the surface of the pottery. This optical 
data can then, with a little programming, be manipulated to decipher any 
frequencies or hidden sounds that may be coded in there.

What worries me is that such attempts usually end up with results, even if 
the origianl pottery was just that - pottery.  As an example, you can take 
a stick and run it against the bricks of a house, and get a certain 
frequency out, which may be interpreted as some profound music discovery. 

Hmmm... maybe I'll call my next album "Brick-2-pack".

Ignoring the album bit, I am curious to see any pictures of this pottery.
Would you drop me a line and tell me what/where the article is so I can 
read it and learn?

Abtin Spantman

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