'Scariest sound in the world': Scientists recreate ancient 'scream of a thousand corpses' using 3D printer

The sound first originated from a skull-shaped whistle found with a skeleton during a late 1990s excavation in Mexico


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Published: Thu 28 Sep 2023, 1:54 PM

Last updated: Thu 28 Sep 2023, 2:00 PM

Scientists have recreated what's been described as "the scream of a thousand corpses", the Aztec Death Whistle, using the latest version of the instrument made with a 3D printer.

Known as the "scariest sound in the world", the sound first originated from a skull-shaped whistle found with a skeleton during a late 1990s excavation in Mexico.

Experts say the Aztecs may have used the whistle before being killed in ceremonies to honour Ehecatl, the god of wind. The original instrument was discovered during the 1999 excavation at the Aztec temple in Mexico City.

In a video posted by The Action Lab, the narrator said that archaeologists' first thought about the whistle was a toy.

However, 15 years later, the narrator added, "For some reason, a scientist blew into the hole in the top of it" and out came the scariest noise sound known to humans.

"It was a startling discovery because it sounded like a screaming human," the narrator further said in the video.

In visuals from the time of excavation, the skeleton was seen holding the death whistle and experts believe it may have been buried with it to scare away evil spirits.

However, the narrator, in The Action Lab video, also claimed that the warriors may have also used the whistle to instil "fear in the hearts of the enemies" when the battle began.

The whistle resembles a human larynx, said the expert, testing the modern-day versions of the Aztec Death Whistle prepared using a 3D printer.

Depending on their sizes and where exactly they're placed on the lips when blown into, the object or the whistle produces different sounds as demonstrated in the video.

Aztecs likely used the noise to help people's souls travel to the afterlife when they were sacrificed, according to some experts.

"For some reason the effect of making it sound like a scream is stronger when you don't actually watch the person blowing into the whistle," added the narrator in The Action Lab video.


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