British researchers have created a mini-model of one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world to understand its acoustics. They built a replica of Stonehenge and performed a series of tests to understand the behavior of the sounds in the megalith. They determined that the acoustics of the Neolithic monument was excellent, which helped them better understand the famous circle of stones.
Academics from the University of Salford collaborated with English Heritage experts on the project. The creation of the ancient megalith was an unusual challenge. It was originally 157 stones set in a circle, but there are only 100 today. The researchers had to rely on the knowledge of archaeologists to help them reconstruct the "prehistoric monument, as it was built 4000 years ago." including missing stones now, "according to The Guardian. They also used the laser scanning data obtained from the original site to make their work more realistic.
A miniature Stonehenge
The model created at the University of Salford is 1/12 th the size of the original megalith. To replicate the stone monument, experts used 3D printers to make replicas of the stones. After the manufacture of 3D models, silicon molds were manufactured. The molds were then used to mold stones made from a plaster mixed with a polymer. To make authentic imitations, they were spray painted with the help of a gray automotive paint.
The Stonehenge model with the sun's position for the winter solstice. ( Trevor Cox / University of Salford )
A megalith with a range of 2.3 meters (7.5 feet) was built. This reproduction "has an advantage over other replicas of Stonehenge, such as that reproduced on the actual scale near Maryhill, in the state of Washington, because it relies on data laser scanning, "according to The Guardian. In addition, many of the stones used on the Maryhill monument are not of good shape because they have been hand carved and are not accurate reproductions.
The sound environment of Stonehenge
In order to examine the acoustics of the model, the team placed it in the acoustic chamber of the University of Salford and tested it over a period of seven days. They used a method "used in the video game and the creation of sound in virtual reality, called" auralization ", reports the Daily Mail.
To make sure that the sound was correctly recorded, the researchers had to multiply by 12 the frequency, which is in a range that can not be heard by the human ear. It was to simulate the sonic environment of the original megalith and in full size.
Sound test at 12 times the frequency of the scale model 1/12 Stonehenge. ( Trevor Cox / University of Salford )
Then the sounds, usually recordings, were measured as they went through the megalith model. New technology was used to determine how sounds behaved in the stone monument and also allowed researchers to hear the sounds.
The Daily Mail quotes Professor Trevor Cox, Project Leader: "It's the sound equivalent of visualization. We can virtually place a source of sound in a space.
The RT results from the Stonehenge model for 12 measured positions. The photo also shows the source and receiver used for the ultrasound test. ( Trevor Cox / University of Salford )
Researchers now believe they understand the acoustic environment of the megalith around 2200 BC. It seems that Stonehenge would have been not only a visual marvel, but also a sound wonder for prehistoric peoples.
Cox, quoted by the BBC News, said: "Since the herring does not have a roof and there are a lot of spaces between the stones, the acoustics is no longer a closed room that an outside space ". The findings from the Salford University study were also compared to those of the full Maryhill replica and the results were very similar.
The mystery of Stonehenge
Stonehenge was built in southwestern England for many years. The first hangar was probably built about 5000 years ago. Successive groups of people came together to build this remarkable stone megalith. It is thought that they used a simple pulley technology to move massive blocks of granite in place, which was a remarkable technical feat.
The role of Stonehenge is a subject of debate. Some think that it was a political or religious site and others that it was a prehistoric astronomical observatory. The extraordinary auditory qualities of the stone circle would have been ideal for mysterious rites and ceremonies. This would seem to support those who argue that the stone circle was used for religious purposes.
Top Image: Scale 1:12 scale to explore how Stonehenge's acoustics would have been in 2200 BC. Source: Trevor Cox / University of Salford
By Ed Whelan