3D printing revives Iron-age Irish music instruments

By | September 3, 2015


3D printing technology has been growing day by day. This technology is mainly used for making a precise and custom design objects, but now it is also used in paleontology and archaeology fields for studying the objects. 3D printing is now also used for creating the replica of some artifacts in the museums, which can be handled by the public.

A PhD student at the Australian National University named Billy Ó Foghlú has duplicated an Irish artifact with the help of 3D printing. The artifact was previously known as the Conical Spearbutt of Navan and was thought to be mounted on the butt of a spear. But the replica created by Billy Ó Foghlú proves that the Spearbutt was a mouthpiece like an iron-age horn.

Billy Ó Foghlú created the replica by casting it in a 3D printed mould. With the very accurate measurements of the Spearbutt, he created a 3D model and he casted the replica in bronze. He also created a 3D printed replica of more than two meter long horns. After creating the replica, he put both replicas together and blew it.

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

Many iron and Bronze-age horns had been found across Europe and Scandinavia, but number of mouthpiece found in Ireland had been very few. So, historians thought that the music in Ireland was in dark phase. Ó Foghlú thinks that the dark phase of music in Ireland was not the reason of discovery of very few mouthpieces with horns, but because it was “ritually dismantled and laid down as offerings when their owner died.”