A reconstructed rattle…and a question

The reconstructed musical instruments are arriving thick and fast! We are now in possession of a number of items: 3D printed and craft reconstructions of panpipes and a double flute, pottery rattles of various forms, and carved wooden clappers, with just the metal bells and cymbals yet to be finished. (We will discuss all of these in more detail in a future post!). In particular, one of the rattles has been through several stages in its reconstruction process.

The remains of a Roman rattle in the Petrie museum, which forms the basis of one of our reconstructed instruments. Photo: Petrie Museum

UC71557 is thought to be a fragment of a Roman rattle, with only one half of the original object still extant. The first step was to laser scan the artefact to produce a digital 3D model. This was then used to create a 3D printed replica.

Our 3D printed copy of the rattle fragment. Photo: Jo Stoner

The next stage was for our colleagues in the School of Music and Fine Art to use this 3D print to create a complete mould, replicating the missing section by using the other surviving half. This mould was then used to produce a complete replica of the rattle, filled with ceramic pellets as we have identified from other more complete rattle examples in the Petrie.

The 3D printed model alongside the finished clay craft replica. Photo: Jo Stoner.

So now we have a complete rattle that fits nicely into the palm of the hand, and makes a pleasing noise when shaken. It does however raise another question – what does it represent?

What kind of fruit or nut is this? Tell us your suggestions! Photo: Jo Stoner

This Roman rattle is clearly in the form of a kind of fruit, nut or seed – but we aren’t clear as to what kind. We have been looking to plants native to Roman Egypt, with the most obvious candidate being a date – however at around 6cm in length, our rattle seems too big for this (as well as rounder in shape). So we are slightly stumped – please let us know if you think you recognise what kind of fruit, nut, or seed this is!

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