Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Appetitive/Reasoning: Cerinthus Reports on the Theater at Epidaurus

Cerinthus' panorama from Epidaurus

So after enjoying the amazing pottery concerning theater at the Getty Villa that I have written about in my recent blogposts (#1, #2, #3), I was feeling marginally less jealous of Cerinthus' trip to Greece. That was until I saw his most recent photos.

On his trip, he visited Epidaurus. The theater is incredible. According to an article on LiveScience as well as Wikipedia, the theater was built by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BCE. Cerinthus explained that the limestone of the theater was the reason that the acoustics are so perfect. The LiveScience article explains the phenomenon. Specifically, the porous and grooved limestone absorbs the lower frequency sounds made by the audience while heightening higher frequency sounds made by the actors. Although it might seem as though the sound would be distorted by the lack of lower frequency sounds, the human brain fills in these sounds so that the sound does not seem distorted.

Earlier theaters, like that in Athens, were originally made of wood which does not have the same acoustic effect of the limestone. Even other theaters built after these period did not have the same perfect acoustics. The LiveScience article claims this is because the Greeks did not understand that the perfection of this theater came from the limestone combined with the shape and slope (LiveScience article).

More of the Theater from Cerinthus,

Correction: I mistook this picture for part of the theater because of the countryside. It is actually the Temple of Aesclepius at Epidaurus.
Temple of Aesclepius. Photo by Cerinthus.

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