Washington, July 2 : A new archaeological research in France has suggested that at least 12,000 years ago in the Stone Age, the most popular musical events might have taken place in torch-lit caves next to walls covered in art.
According to a report in Discovery News, Stone Age-era caves in France bear paintings located in the most acoustically resonant places, where sound lingers or echoes.
Researchers now theorize that the first cathedrals, theaters and concert halls, may have been inspired by musical performances held in caves.
Iegor Reznikoff of the University of Paris was the one who stumbled upon the Stone Age art and music connection.
"The first time I happened to be in a prehistoric cave, I tried the resonance in various parts of the cave, and quickly the question arose: Is there a relation between resonance and locations of the paintings?" Reznikoff explained.
To test his question, Reznikoff sang and hummed within various parts of well-known French caves containing prehistoric art. These included Niaux and Le Portel in Ariege, as well as Arcy-sur-Cure in Burgandy.
He drew three key conclusions from the "sound checks."
First, most pictures were located in, or very near to, resonant locations. Second, the density of the pictures in these areas is proportional to the intensity of that spot's resonance. Finally, resonant areas where painting would be difficult, such as narrow passageways, appear to have been marked with red lines.
The latter finding suggests that cave dwellers first scoped out caves for their musicality before any painting commenced.
Reznikoff's findings could help explain why bone flutes have been found near some caves containing the Stone Age art.
"The prehistoric tribes could make sounds with stones, pieces of wood, different types of drums and so on," said Reznikoff. "Of course the Paleolithic tribes did sing, as do all cultural groups from other regions. That they did so in the caves is shown by my studies. The ritual purpose appears very convincing," he added.
According to David Lubman of the Acoustical Society of America, future studies will support Reznikoff's theories with scientific measurements.
"It's possible that all of today's music could have resulted from an ingrained human memory of the acoustical properties of caves," he said.