Aztec Death Whistle Must Have Terrified The Empire’s Enemies
There are myriad aspects of ancient cultures that are utterly fascinating to me, but perhaps the most exciting is experiencing sounds that you'd think would have been lost in the pre-audio recording days.
We have plenty of paintings, carvings, and writings from ancient civilizations, and while we can count on many things to sound exactly as they did centuries ago, imagine how many styles of music, speech, or unique soundscapes we may likely never hear again, or be able to fully experience as the people back then did.
That line of thinking, along with some late-night Googling, led me to a fantastic article at lazerhorse.org titled 'Aztec Death Whistle: Mysterious, Creepy and Ancient'.
When I came across the video above in the article, I couldn't help but imagine an army of rebels or conquistadors marching on Tenochtitlan, only to be treated to the sound of a thousand hellish screams as they approached the walls.
I don't know about you, but I'd probably soil my armor.
However, it's not exactly clear how the instruments were used by the primary Aztec cultures or their subjects. Quijas Yxayotl, who reconstructs and plays ancient Native American instruments, says warriors may have used the whistles to intimidate invaders. While that may have been true, Roberto Velazquez with The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America believes they served a divine purpose and were used in death ceremonies, including human sacrifices and funerals.
Whatever their use, they must have sent chills down the spine of anyone who heard them, even those NOT on the receiving end of a sacrifice or Aztec military strike.
The video below was also included in the Lazer Horse article, and I can easily imagine this guy scaring the crap out of trick-or-treaters with that thing!