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An echea or sounding vase (literally echoer)[1] is a pot, chamber or vessel that is similar in function to a modern-day bass trap. They were originally used in ancient Greek theaters to enhance the voices of performers by resonance.[2][3] They were usually made of bronze, but could also be earthenware if necessary for economic reasons.[4]

Echea were placed with a "due regard to the laws and harmony of physics" according to the Roman writer Vitruvius. The number of echea used and their positioning depended on the size and shape of the theatre.[2] The vases operated by resonance, enhancing key frequencies of the performers' voices and absorbing those of the audience, thereby changing the sound in the theatre to make voices clearer and more lush.[3]

Similar devices have been used in early churches, and some were discovered in the vaulted ceiling of the choir of Strasbourg Cathedral, and in mosques dating back to the 11th century.[2][3]


  1. ^ Reed Business Information (21 November 1974). New Scientist. Reed Business Information. pp. 552–. ISSN 0262-4079. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c John Britton, John Le Keux, George Godwin (1838). A Dictionary of the Architecture and Archaeology of the Middle Ages. Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans. p. 118. 
  3. ^ a b c "Ready Acoustics, Acoustical Primer". Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  4. ^ Birch, Samuel (1858). History of Ancient Pottery. J Murray. p. 321. 

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