An eerie discovery from the Aztec era has been brought back to life thanks to modern technology: In a video posted by the YouTube channel “Action Lab” James J. Orgill, an engineer at Brigham Young University, presents a 3D-printed replica of this ominous artifact.
The archaeological artifact, a skull-shaped flute of sorts, was originally found during excavations in Mexico City in 1999. It was in the hand of a skeletonized victim in a temple dedicated to the Aztec wind god Ehecatl.
As the current experiment shows, the Aztecs were able to produce sounds of oppressive, fear-inducing effect with the death whistle. The instrument is modeled on the human larynx. When the player blows into it, the air stream splits and creates oscillating sound waves in the chamber of the pipe.
We can only speculate about the purpose of the death whistle. Some experts suggest it was intended to frighten enemies in battle. Others believe it was used during sacrificial rituals to guide souls safely into the afterlife. What is clear is that the instrument was deliberately constructed to produce an eerie, scary sound.
To make the effect audible again, 3D printers were used to create faithful replicas of the Aztec death whistle. On the 3D model platform, the 3D printed template of the death whistle is available for 3 euros.