Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (xvi. 581 pages) : color illustrations, color maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Sean M Rafferty

Committee Members

Christopher B Wolff, David E Witt


Archaeoacoustics, Archaeology, Chaco, Copan, GIS, Soundscape, Geographic information systems, Sound, Music archaeology, Echo, Topological spaces

Subject Categories

History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


This research presents the development and critical assessment of an Archaeoacoustics Toolbox for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology written in the Python programming language, and applies this methodology to cross cultural case studies exploring the importance of soundsheds in an anthropological-archaeological context. As counterpoint to a common critique of experiential theoretical approaches the Soundshed Analysis and Soundshed Analysis-Variable Cover tools provide a replicable means of modeling baseline estimates of the experience of sound. Testing against modern acoustical studies establishing scientific accuracy, and explanations of the sound physics calculations performed by the tools are provided. The tools are then applied to case studies situated in Ancestral Puebloan sites within Chaco Canyon; the Classic Period Maya Kingdom of Copan; and nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ireland to explore a variety of modeling techniques and culturally-derived inputs. In addition to demonstrating the use of the Archaeoacoustics Toolbox, each of the case studies represents an individual contribution to understanding the importance of what was heard in the past. By incorporating a consideration of landscape acoustics, archaeologists can more fully understand the embodied experience explored through phenomenological, perceptive, and performance-based approaches. A GIS approach to landscape scale archaeoacoustics provides a contextualizing framework by which researchers can approach auditory hypotheses, explore embodied experience, and listen to what the past is telling us.