Acoustic tasks of the architect: solutions of the past and present

What do the walls of ancient amphitheaters hide and why do modern theater actors not need microphones? Let’s see how architects achieve good sound without the help of modern technology.

Ancient amphitheaters are credited with wonderful acoustic abilities. If you believe the legends, then in the Coliseum the emperor heard the whisper of people sitting in the upper places of the arena. In fact, ancient architects had almost no knowledge of architectural acoustics, but experimentally or intuitively achieved good results.

The walls of the Coliseum are built of travertine. Stone blocks were connected by steel mounts. For the internal parts used tuff and brick.

The shape of the ancient amphitheaters still pays off. It resembles a bowl or well with stone walls. The sound does not fly away anywhere, it fills the space, finds the listener, regardless of whether it is closer or further from the scene. Amphoras served as original amplifiers of sound – they were often placed on opposite sides of the stage or walled directly into the walls.

The ancient Greek theater in Epidaurus (Epidaurus) seats 15 thousand spectators. At the same time, even on the last rows, everything that happens on stage is perfectly audible. The fact is that the rows of seats are made of mountain limestone. The material serves as a wall from external sounds and a good reflector of the actors’ voices from the stage towards the audience.



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