Time travellers no longer need a TARDIS to venture into the dim and distant past ... they can use their mobile phones.
That’s the claim from a team of scientists, technicians and academics at the University of Huddersfield who have devised the Soundgate app to recreate the sights and sounds of prehistoric caves, Roman ruins and Stonehenge.
“Sound archaeologist” Rupert Till, the university’s Reader in Music, has acquired a reputation for investigating the acoustics of ancient spaces and for recreating the music and instruments of early civilisations.
The latest stage in his ground-breaking research has seen him delving into the sound properties and original acoustics of a range of World Heritage sites: Paleolithic era decorated caves near Altamira in Northern Spain, the Roman theatre at Paphos in Cyprus and the Neolithic monuments of Stonehenge in Wiltshire.
Dr Till says his free app allows users to interactively explore a number of archaeological sites as they might have looked in the ancient past.
He added: “As well as seeing what they look like, you can also hear what they sounded like.”
App users will have the choice of visualising the site in daylight, dusk or after dark, with appropriate natural sounds.
And Dr Till points out that since full physical access to the sites can be restricted – visitors are rarely allowed to enter the centre of Stonehenge – the app can enrich an actual visit.
He adds: “What you see today at Stonehenge is a remnant of what used to be there so it will be very interesting for visitors to have this app showing what it used to look like at different periods, from the beginning of its development through to its completion about 4,000 years ago.”
The app’s sound bank will also feature relevant ancient musical instruments. Dr Till has recently been involved with the European Musical Archaeology Project and has recorded Viking age music such as sounds made by bone flutes.
He says the sonic dimension of the app is the most significant innovation. By integrating “acoustic modelling” the app goes beyond standard computer game-like walkarounds of historic sites.
New sites may be added to future releases and there are also plans to adapt the app for virtual reality headsets.
EMAP Soundgate can be downloaded for PC, Mac, Android and iOS operating systems. It can be downloaded at: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/31721/ (for PC and Mac) and for Mac via App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/emap-soundgate/id1207880655?mt=12