Clapping at this Mayan temple echoes back as a quetzal bird call

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What if the birds had a different call, and after the pyramid was built, they emulated the sound of the clap echo in honor of who ever the temple was to?


Tour guides do this all day. Makes for an odd environment. Fortunately it’s a big site.

The serpent shadows are cool too. Couple of very beautiful cenotes nearby also. Well worth the visit.


My major takeaway (besides awesome photos) from the a trip to Chichen Itza was the complete lack of shade and about 90+ degree heat. It was wonderful to see Meso-American ruins accessible to the public, but it was definitely a one time thing.

I loved the cenotes so much that I made a return trip to Yucatan to do snorkeling in them near Tulum.


Definitely a good site to visit early in the day, not just to avoid the heat but also to enjoy the site before the crowds and countless tchotchke vendors show up.


Unfortunately I did it as part of an all day tour. The morning was spent at a cenote, then lunch, then the ruins by mid afternoon. The worst time possible to be there.

On the upside, I had no problem napping on the bus going back to the hotel. Sun poisoning/heat exhaustion always induces the best naps. :slight_smile:


We were lucky; the two times my family toured the Yucatan we did most stuff on our own instead of as part of a group and were able to tailor our schedule pretty well.

One thing that tickled me about touring all those temples was learning that Palenque once had a ruler named “Snake Jaguar II,” which is an amazing arcade fighting game character name if I ever heard one.


“Snake Jaguar II” would totally be be the name of my custom painted van.

After that trip, my wife vowed that we would take mostly aquatic based excursions on our own or through small private companies or using the ADO bus system (which is crazy cheap and comfortable). Kept going back every year: cenotes, swimming with whale sharks, reef snorkeling, sport fishing…


There was a time they had to stay outside the entrance. It was much more enjoyable then.


Yeah, I get that selling crap to tourists is a huge part of the local economy but I wish they had a little more buffer between the stalls and the archeological sites.

By contrast Uxmal had more shade, no trinket sellers on site and orders of magnitude fewer tourists. Can definitely recommend.


Super sweet that the aliens that built that site thought of this cool acoustic feature. /s

(because you know, there’s no way that primitive brown people could ever make anything cool before the white man showed up… <- the premise of pretty much every “History” channel show).


Yeah but prove that room up top isn’t just full of birds.


mind, as they say, blown.


It’s cool, but experts on acoustics are not particularly mystified – any staircase will make a similar echo:


Also just about any ecology probably has a bird species that sounds a bit like that, especially when you’ve been primed to hear it by the tour guide. It’s hardly an unusual cadence for birdsong.

This whole thing feels like post-hoc Noble Savage fallacy storytelling to me.


Here’s also a proper paper about it:


Came here to say this. Can’t read the link where I am, but I know it’s called an echelon echo: the periodic steps preferentially reflect particular frequencies and the frequency drops by a bit towards the top of the stairs, so the sound is reflecting at an angle to the stairs. Unfortunately, the term “echelon echo” seems to have been taken over by makers of a guitar reverb unit, but you can still find it on a search.


Indeed. Yet it does add a certain intriguing mythology to the place that is palpable to us present inhabitants. The site, as are all Mayan sites, is amazingly tantalizing for the imagination. Pyramids, observatories, ball courts, alters with skulls and countless other dwellings left to the imagination are all enough to entertain the brain about what it must have been like back then. A little audio backdrop that sounds like a bird adds some spirit to the place. Although the spirit really does get annoying after the first ten attempts.


Yah, but I find real history a lot more interesting than mythology. What’s the evidence for this hypothesis that they built it specifically with the feature to create the song of a local bird? Or is it perhaps more likely that staircases have repeating echos and they built stepped pyramids because that’s an easy way to build tall with the tools they had?

I think undermining peoples’ ability to think critically about our world and separate fact from story is always the wrong move.

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Roger that, but this is a tourist trap we are talking about.