A noisy history of the world
David Hendy is presenting a BBC Radio 4 series on the history of humans' relationship with sound. Here he tells Spencer Mizen why exploring what our ancestors heard, as well as saw, is crucial to gaining a better understanding of what it was like to live in the past
How important is sound to understanding the human experience through history?
It’s absolutely critical. A visual history is only half a history – trying to uncover the noises our ancestors made, what they heard, is key to building a picture of what their lives were really like. How can we begin to understand how it felt to live in a tenement in New York’s Lower East Side without appreciating the noise that filled one of the most overcrowded places on Earth – the kind of unrelenting din that sent people mad through lack of sleep?