Sound and Ritual in Archaeological Contexts

Ritual aspects of sound production are frequently touched in music-archaeological studies, but seldom the main focus of research. Ritual behaviour is often reflected in material culture, but the individual meaning of ritual acts is difficult to deduce when it comes to ancient societies. Even more difficult is the study of the interaction of ritual activities and past sound production. In some cases, living traditions may offer hints, but ethnographical and ethnomusicological information also reveal the wide frame of possible interpretations. Archaeological contexts, the instrument symbolism, iconographical and/or textual information, and other data offer additional information. Also, the characteristic sounds and their respective effects can be analyzed and, when including all relevant information in a comparative way, a great portion of possible ritual settings reconstructed. This congress turns to ritual and religious behaviours related to musical practices of the past, including the performative dimension of rituals closely linked with musical practices, but also the ritual-like nature of performing activities involving musical behaviours. Comparable and distinctive elements between societies from different cultural areas and times, including living traditions will be discussed. It is aimed to establish a methodology of studying the interrelation of ritual behaviours and sound production in past societies.