Thursday, January 7, 2021

Creation of Functional Replica Roman and Late Antique Musical Instruments through 3D Scanning and Printing Technology, and their use in research and museum education

Ellen Swift and Lloyd Bosworth, with David Creese, George Morris, April Pudsey, Justin Richardson, Jo Stoner, Frank Walker, and Georgia Wright


Replica artefacts are a well-established feature of Roman archaeology, particularly as used in experimental archaeology, by re-enactors, and in museum education. 3D scanning offers a new methodology for the accurate production of such artefacts, which can then be used both in scholarly research and in public engagement activities. This article describes methodologies for 3D scanning and 3D printing, together with appropriate craft techniques, in the creation of replica musical instruments from the collection of UCL's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London.

Replica of bell on bracelet (UC58536). Image credit: Lloyd Bosworth
Replica of bell on bracelet (UC58536). Image credit: Lloyd Bosworth

While there were some challenges in replica creation, discussed in further detail, 'functional replicas' were successfully made, that, we argue, replicate sufficiently accurately those features of the objects under investigation from a research perspective. These were the decibel levels (sound power levels), and, for some objects, frequency (pitch) ranges produced, and the variety of sounds that they could produce. This evidence makes an important contribution to our understanding of the contexts of use of the original instruments. Sound recordings virtually modelled in a likely use location, the courtyard of a typical house from Roman-period Egypt, were also produced and assist in our conceptualisation of the wider acoustic environment. Sound recordings and replicas were additionally used for public engagement purposes in a temporary exhibition at the Petrie Museum, and their contribution to museum education is assessed. 3D scanning and printing technology are demonstrated to be valuable techniques for the production of accurate replicas, which can be used successfully to contribute to scholarly research and museum education in new ways. Appendices include .stl files that may be downloaded and 3D printed, to make copies of the replicas for use in new research and education projects. 



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