The first-ever scale model of Stonehenge that lets researchers explore how the monument would have sounded in its heyday has been created by UK researchers.
The model was made using 3D printing and custom modelling techniques, and represents how the monument would have originally looked and sounded.
Researchers hope that sound tests with the 157-stone model will reveal how the acoustics of the stone formation may have supported ceremonies back in 2200 BC.
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The first-ever scale model of Stonehenge that lets researchers explore how the monument would have sounded in its heyday has been created by UK researchers
The 1:12 scale model Stonehenge was created by researchers from the University of Salford, led by acoustic engineer Trevor Cox, in collaboration with Historic England, who oversee the famous Wiltshire-based archaeological site.
Creating an acoustic model is necessary to understand exactly how sound would have behaved around Stonehenge at the time of its original use, as it is believed that many of the original stones that made up the monument are now missing.
'There have been very few studies into the sounds created at Stonehenge,' said Professor Cox.
'We know, for example, that within Stonehenge the reflections from the stones should have helped to reinforce speech. But by how much?'
'With so many stones missing now, visiting the current site gives a false impression of the acoustic in the past.'
'This to-scale model, which incorporates archaeological mapping techniques to better understand the layout of the original site, will allow us to access brand new insights into what our ancestors would have heard in the stone circles,' he added.
'To understand a space we need to not only know how it looked but also how it sounded. Think of any modern ceremony and it involves sound, and it is a reasonable guess that people would have talked and made music inside or around the henge.'
To recreate the original shapes and positions of the stones, researchers began by using laser scanning data of Stonehenge's modern-day configuration, which was taken by Historic England in 2011.
They combined this information with a synthesis of the latest archaeological research into the history of the ancient monument.
'There are clues to where the stones were, such as filled in holes where they were stood,' Professor Cox said.
To manufacture the models themselves, the team used a mixture of both 3D printing and specialised molding techniques.
The model was made using 3D printing and custom modelling techniques, and represents how the monument would have originally looked — with all 157 stones
Researchers combined laser scanning data with a synthesis of the latest archaeological research into the history of the ancient monument
'The model the University of Salford has helped us to develop is undergoing tests within the university’s acoustic chamber all this week,' said Paul Bryan, Historic England's Geospatial Imaging Manager.
Having placed the model in a special acoustic chamber, the researchers are using a technique used in video game and VR sound creation, one dubbed 'auralisation'.
'It is the sound equivalent of visualisation. We can virtually place a source of sound in a space,' said Professor Cox.
'To do this we need a recording of the source, my voice for example, and a measurement of how sound changes as it moves through the space, which comes from the model.'
'Combine those and I’m transported back to Stonehenge in 2,200 BC!'
When Professor Cox put his voice into the scale model, it gained a majestic and reverberant quality through the acoustics of the monument.
'Surprisingly, considering the Stonehenge has no roof and there are lots of spaces between