3D printing brings Bronze Age music alive

Sydney, Sep 3 (IANS) An Australian archaeologist has 3D printed a replica of an Iron Age artifact to revive a rich musical culture in ancient Ireland.

Billy O Foghlu from the Australian National University (ANU) has found evidence that the artifact may have been a mouthpiece from an iron-age horn and not a spear-butt as previously thought.

When he used the replica artifact as a mouthpiece, the ancient Irish horn had a richer, more velvety tone.

“Suddenly the instrument came to life. These horns were not just hunting horns or noisemakers. They were very carefully constructed and repaired and played for hours. Music clearly had a very significant role in the culture,” Foghlu said.

Complex bronze-age and iron-age horns have been found throughout Europe, especially in Scandinavia.

However, the lack of mouthpieces in Ireland suggested the Irish music scene had drifted into a musical dark age.

Foghlu was convinced mouthpieces had existed in Ireland and was intrigued by the so-called Conical Spearbutt of Navan.

Although he could not gain access to the original bronze artifact, he used the exact measurements to produce a replica using 3D-printing and try it out with his own horn.

The addition of a mouthpiece would have given greater comfort and control to ancient horn players, and may have increased the range of their instruments.

However, few mouthpieces have been found.

“The dearth of them may be explained by evidence that the instruments were ritually dismantled and laid down as offerings when their owner died.

“A number of instruments have been found buried in bogs. The ritual killing of an instrument and depositing it in a burial site shows the full significance of it in the culture,” Foghlu pointed out in a paper published in the journal Emania.

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