What physics has to do with India’s medieval history? Physics is a modern science which had evolved in the hands of Europeans at the Age of Reasons, and to some extent in Classical Greece and Rome. My perception was proved wrong when I recently visited Golconda in Hyderabad.
Being a student of archaeology, I had some understanding about Golconda, the fort from where the Qutb Shahies ruled for 200 years in the 17th and 18thcenturies AD. Still I hired a guide, not for education, but for fun to experience the rhythm of the fort with a local person. The first thing he told me to clap inside a domed structure. I followed. I was told that it would be heard a kilometre away at the top of Golconda Hill. My first impression was not to believe. But after listening to others I accepted. He was right. The acoustics of Golconda was far ahead of time.
The fort made of mud and rocks had been built in the hands of Iranian architects who were well versed in acoustic technology (a concept of sound physics). The arches of the fort were the medium through which acoustic was created. These helped an army commander to know what the sentry was doing.
The architects knew the facet of sound echo as well as amplification. They use material such as clay pots and pans for construction of the fort. These had been blended with hardcore building material, such as stone. The next thing they did was the use of compression and amplification.
The clapping portico in Golconda Fort is a series of arches on one side, each smaller than the preceding one. So a sound wave generated under the dome would get compression and then bounce back amplified enough to reach a considerable distance.
After experiencing myself, I started pondering – how this can be exposed to school kids. A problem as I have been pointing out often is the over emphasis on dynastic history in school curriculum. If we prioritise on such ideas that blended physics with history and culture it will certainly generate more interest. On top of it, if the kids are exposed to such ideas in a monument like this, it would certainly add as a bonus.
By Jitu Mishra – Educational Specialist
I am passionate about anthropology, archaeology and linking them with school education.