The question of acoustic pots imbedded into the vaults and walls of many churches in Europe has for a long time divided the searchers, both in archeology and acoustic. Their efficacy is very difficult to prove, even with the technical means of today. As a consequence, many searchers were and are still skeptical about the use of these potteries as an acoustic device.
As there was nothing certain about the aim of the devices, these potteries were underestimated during the restoration works of the churches and buildings: thus many cases from the 19th century don’t exist anymore today.
Toward this observation, we gathered a multidisciplinary team of searchers in order to instigate the question through historiography with the University of Poitiers (ACI) and to work on the intention of the builders which inserted the pots. Our researches, apart from the acoustic use, brought us to other possible uses, as a thermal device, the evacuation of humidity, or the lightening of the vaults.
However our researches always brought us back to the acoustic hypothesis, according to the archeological tradition. We need now to support this hypothesis thanks to scientific convincing evidences.
We managed to instore a systematic research in French buildings in order to have an inventory. Foreign correspondents working on the same topic, are also sharing with us their own data and inventories. In total, we have now 350 churches in Europe and 200 in France which contain acoustic pots but we know there are much more than this. Among the 200 churches in France, we visited nearly fifty of them and measured resonance frequencies of acoustic pots in 20 of them, in total 600 potteries.
We are recording architectural and archeological data from religious buildings in order to confront them and to try to find some implantation rules which connect the different pots devices. The confrontation of antique acoustic theories with medieval and modern theories is also very important for us, especially the relationship with the famous Vitruvian “vases”.
All these researches were published in the work “Archeology of Sound: Acoustic pots devices in ancient buildings”. On this site are also available the slides and texts from the conferences we are giving and our studies reports.
Translation : S. Palazzo