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Most of us think of our ears only as of the portals through which we hear the sound—two oddly shaped bits of cartilage that allow us to process speech, to experience music, and to enjoy (and sometimes suffer through) all the other clangs of the day.

To some, however, ears hold a much greater significance. We already learned about some of the things you never knew about your ears, now read on to discover some of the more obscure facts about those things on the sides of your head and what they mean to and do for various groups, individuals, and even animals.


Ancient Egypt and Ears: Hearing in History

“Ear stelae” are a staple of ancient Egyptian art.  In these scenes, which were carved into stone, both left and right ears are depicted alongside images of devout worshipers. The purpose of these stelae was to enable Egyptian Gods to hear the prayers of their people.



Stelarc and His Perception of the Ear: Obsolete Artwork

This Australian-born performance artist, who regards the human body as “obsolete,” has used his art as a platform to challenge the physical capabilities of the human body. His projects include suspending himself with hooks attached to his skin, and perhaps most notably, having a polyethylene prosthetic ear implanted under the skin of his left forearm.

Stelarc hopes to complete the ear with a Wi-Fi-enabled microphone, which will allow anyone to go online and hear the sounds his ear picks up. In an article in The New York Times, Stelarc said of his ear: “The ear visualizes that idea that we can now engineer additional organs, Internet-enabled, to better function in the technical terrain that we now inhabit.”


Ancient Mayans and Their Ears (More Specifically, Their Earlobes!)

In modern American society, if you have gauged earlobes, one might assume that you have an edgy sense of style. To Mayans, ears held much greater significance as the passageway through which spiritual energy traveled.

To honor that belief, the Maya stretched their ears and adorned them with ear flares. While flares made out of materials like Jade were indicative of wealth, those made out of lesser materials, such as bone, suggested that their wearers belonged to a lower class.


Ears on Parrots: Animals That Superhear

Much like moths and bats, parrots have an incredible sense of hearing. During World War I, Parrots were stationed on the Eiffel tower to warn citizens of coming attacks.

by Leah Sininsky, Updates in 2021