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EU JPI-CH PHE : The Past Has Ears (2020-2023)

PHE is a collaborative research project. Partners in the project include researchers from a wide range of disciplines focusing on room acoustics as an important aspect of cultural heritage. Funding has been provided by the EU JPI Cultural Heritage project PHE (20-JPIC-0002-FS).


  • University of York, York, UK
  • University of Parma, Parma, Italy
  • Sorbonne Université, Paris, France
  • Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH) Lyon St-Etienne, Lyon, France
  • Direction régionale des affaires culturelles d'Île-de-France (Notre Dame), Paris, France
  • PRISM, CNRS, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France
  • Houses of Parliament, London, UK
  • Parco Archeologico di Tindari (Tindari Theatre), Tindari, Italy


When we think about great architectural achievements in European history, such as ancient amphitheatres or gothic cathedrals, their importance is strongly tied to their acoustic environment. The acoustics of a site is an intangible consequence of the space’s tangible construction and furnishings. It is ephemeral, while also a concrete result of the physical nature of the environment. Through the “Past Has Ears” project (the PHE project), we will explore how via measurements, research, and virtual reconstructions the acoustics of heritage spaces can be documented, reconstructed, and experienced for spaces both existing and in various altered states. Inspired by the project’s namesake (Phé, for the constellation Phoenix), and the recent fires at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (2019) and Teatro La Fenice opera hall (1996, also meaning Phoenix), PHE focuses on the preservation, conservation, and reconstruction of heritage sites, bringing them back from the ashes for use by researchers, stake holders, cultural institutions, and the general public. Comprising research teams with experience in acoustic reconstructions and historical research, paired with national heritage monuments of acoustic importance, the consortium will develop a joint methodology for addressing relevant archaeological acoustics issues across Europe with historians of different disciplines. Specialists in tangible/intangible cultural heritage legal issues ensure the viability and longevity of the methodology guidelines. The consortium will prototype next generation exploration tools for presenting digital acoustic reconstructions to scientists and museum visitors alike. Results will be evaluated with associated test heritage sites, created in partnership with stakeholders and experienced content producers. Presentation methods provide first-person in-situ or offsite explorations, with the ability to experience various historical periods. For deteriorated sites, this approach provides access to situations impossible to experience onsite.


In the Press

  • S. Magny, “Les cloches sonnent pour Notre-Dame”, L'Yonne Républicaine, p.13, 22-03-2023 (url), (extract).
  • M. Schwartz, M. Khurana, M. Gröndahl & Y. Parshina-Kottas, “A Cathedral of Sound”, New York Times Magazine, 05-03-2023, (url).

Go to the PHE Presentations and Publications page

A kind of mission statement : B. F. G. Katz, D. Murphy, and A. Farina, “Exploring cultural heritage through acoustic digital reconstructions,” Physics Today, vol. 73, pp. 32–37, dec 2020, doi:10.1063/pt.3.4633.

Conference / Colloque

Gothic Resonances 2023 international colloquium, organized by the PHE project.


If you have any question or comments, please contact

phe.txt · Last modified: 2023/03/23 17:56 by katz