Ancient Pottery Recorded Audio

Status: Hoax
image The Raw Feed has linked to a video (in French) in which Belgian archaeologists discuss how they were able to "use computer scans of the grooves in 6,500-year-old pottery to extract sounds -- including talking and laughter -- made by the vibrations of the tools used to make the pottery." The video is fairly good quality and would lead you to believe that it might be real, if it weren't for the premise being pretty farfetched (and not reported anywhere else in the news). Make Magazine reports that the video was created last year as an April Fool's Day hoax, and point out that "This site - 'Poisson d'avril de journal televise', translates to: 'April fools newscast'." (However, I can't find any mention of Poisson d'avril in the site they link to.) Other Make readers point out that the premise (audio extracted from ancient pottery) was ripped off (pun intentional) from a story by Gregory Benford, Time Shards. (Thanks to Schmawy for the link)

History Technology

Posted on Mon Feb 20, 2006


Thats pretty cool 😊
Posted by davetolomy  on  Mon Feb 20, 2006  at  11:30 AM
There was an X-files episode about this. Some old pot "caught" Jesus saying a word that brought Lazarus back to life, while the pot was being formed. So the idea was that if you could play back Jesus you could ressurect anyone within the sound of the pot. Seems like it is kind of related to EVP.
Posted by Lonewatchman  on  Mon Feb 20, 2006  at  11:33 AM
such a shame. would be sooo cool.
Posted by schmawy  on  Mon Feb 20, 2006  at  12:34 PM
It was on an episode of CSI too.. a mentally disturbed kid was making a pot while he was arguing with a nurse about some killing.
Posted by FlintJ  in  Florida  on  Mon Feb 20, 2006  at  02:38 PM
I like this theory very much.
It reminds me of the "you can hear radio programs on your tooth fillings" theory, and the "you can see the last image someone saw preserved on the dead person's retina" theory.
Posted by Big Gary, on another quail hunt  on  Mon Feb 20, 2006  at  05:14 PM
I remember hearing voices recorded on a pot in the balboa park science museum; I thought I remembered a true story about an ancient pot which recorded voices. I guess it's alleged that this could be done some day, but the pottery has to be destroyed in the process.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Mon Feb 20, 2006  at  05:52 PM
Hi, if you go to the "Vases sonores" site, and view the source of that page (right-click view source), you will see that the string "Poisson d'avril de journal televise" is hidden in the source a few times.
Personally I've never heard *this* "Belgian" version, but I remember the story being on our news several years ago. But hey, on April Fool's Day, any story can be on the news over here...
Posted by Robert Wood  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  03:55 AM
When I read the title I thought "I
Posted by Beasjt  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  12:52 PM
The idea of materials being able to hold thoughts also reminds me of "The Stone Tape", a classic old BBC television play by Nigel Kneale. Fifty years from now it will have to have a caption at the beginning to explain that magnetic tape was once used to store sounds.

Is it feasible to cut accurate, 200hz-ish waveforms in setting pottery? Is it feasible to cut an accurate spiral groove in pottery that can hold audio frequencies? With old-fashioned technology? At three o'clock in the morning? With my reputation? Bingo!

I am also reminded of the glass armonica, a musical instrument that consists of tuned bowls rotating around an axle that you play by putting your finger on the edge of them.

It would be possible with modern technology to make a bowl or piece of pottery that has an audio groove in it, perhaps playing a drum loop endlessly as it spins around; you could spin several on poles and mix between them. Such a thing would make a nice novelty gift.
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  02:10 PM
The concept is very feasible. It fact the concept is the basis for vinyl records. You take a spinning medium and scratch a track of grooves into the surface. Place a needle into the tracke with an amplifing device on the end and it plays back the sounds recorded by the grooves. Very simple concept.

But has anyone played back sounds from pottery I don't think so. However, a new technique is being used to recover old vinyl recording using lasers to amplify the grooves left in the records.
Posted by blackomne  on  Tue Feb 21, 2006  at  02:24 PM
The concept dates from at least the early 1960s. It was mentioned by Arthur C. Clarke in an essay that was included in his book "Profiles of the Future: An Inquirey into the Limits of the Possible," published in 1962. I recall Clarke mentioning that the sound heard most clearly was that of the potter's wheel, although I can't recall if he heard a recording himself or was told about by someone. I don't recall if he cited a reference, but that should be easy enough to check...
Posted by James L. Heckman  on  Fri Feb 24, 2006  at  08:40 PM

It reminds me of the "you can hear radio programs on your tooth fillings" theory

End quote:


This part is actually true for people with metal fillings in their mouth, who live near high power AM radio stations. By the magic of Amplitude Modulation, (AM Radio) the sounds brodcast can resonate in people's teeth. Check out this story involving Lucille Ball of all people

and of course, somebody is working on making this into a commercial product:
Posted by Ema Zee  on  Sat Feb 25, 2006  at  02:36 PM
Such an intriguing concept. I was roped in until I realised-

The medium would be far too porous to produce such a noise to decibel level.

The mechanics to uniformly sweep a scribe across non-uniform geometry would be a bit complex just to smooth the surface of a pot! Especially if the maker wished to make anything other than the same darn pot shape over and over! 😊

I also considered that the scribe, as illustrated in the images, doesn't provide a "resonator" of any sort. Some sort of material acting similar to the sound-boards of some acoustic musical instruments, operating in reverse, would be needed to amplify ambient audio into lateral motion at the tip of the scribe.

Hooray! I love geek stuff! I caught this one- It didn't catch me! hehehe...
Posted by Ed Newman  on  Sat Feb 25, 2006  at  06:16 PM
Haha!..the last thing the guy says in the end is: (french)so while we're all waiting for the CD to come out, (/french)(latin)I believe in the absurd(/latin)"
Posted by Elea  on  Fri Mar 17, 2006  at  07:18 PM
The newscast was bull, no doubt. But not so much. Perhaps if the right compound of material was used, or if it was glazed. It could be that the ancients understood sound technology and could deliberately record audio. If the tool used in the groove making was rigged on a rigid type of "arm" that was set up correctly, they could get the perfect spiral they needed. The play back may have worked in similar ways. Like the record player...
Posted by withheld  on  Sat Jun 03, 2006  at  07:45 PM
Its a fake.
Posted by Houdini  on  Sun Sep 30, 2007  at  06:09 AM
They concluded it plausible on MythBusters.
Posted by Jonathan  on  Tue Oct 16, 2007  at  02:23 AM
I mean busted.
Posted by Jonathan  on  Tue Oct 16, 2007  at  02:31 AM
Yeah, you can see the "Poisson d'avril" in the source code; you can even Ctrl+F from your browser, and it will highlight the very top of the page on the black background (using Firefox, anyway). I wasn't sure about the whole thing from the beginning, but I guess I was kinda hoping it was true. Woulda' been neat.
Posted by Gabe  on  Tue Oct 23, 2007  at  11:14 PM
Has anyone actually tried it?
Posted by stellamojo  on  Thu Apr 02, 2009  at  11:09 AM

wow.. really great post.

thanks a lot.
Posted by Used Video Equipment  on  Thu May 28, 2009  at  11:02 AM
It is very interest, and I think this may be true. But today is 1-st of April, All Fool's Day, and it is most likely just a joke 😊
Posted by Anyura  on  Thu Apr 01, 2010  at  12:51 PM
Is this an hoax ??? The concept is very possible. But who knows.
Posted by D.A. Castillo  on  Sat Sep 11, 2010  at  10:32 PM
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