Scottish scientists using special software have managed to reconstruct an ancient brass instrument called the lituus.

The trumpet-like instrument, which had been played in Ancient Roman times, fell out of use more than 300 years ago.

Now, researchers at the University of Edinburgh along with the U.K.'s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have collaborated to produce the instrument.

Alistair Braden, a PhD student at the university, and his supervisor Prof. Murray Campbell, had been approached by the Swiss-based Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (SCB) to recreate the lituus. The SCB is a conservatory that focuses on early music.

Braden had developed a piece of software to improve the design of brass instruments. Using his software, the engineering research council was able to design the lituus based on expert guesses as to what it may have looked and sounded like.

The SCB provided ideas about the instrument's possible tonal quality, how it might have been played and diagrams of instruments that are likely similar to it.

"The key was to ensure that the design we generated would not only sound right but look right as well," Campbell told BBC News.

The end result is a 2.4 metre trumpet-like instrument with a flared bell at the end.  It's described has having a piercing sound and a limited tonal range.

Two examples of the lituus were produced.

With them, the SCB was able to perform O Jesu Christ, meins lebens licht earlier this year.  Written by Bach in the 1730s, the composition is the only piece of music in existence that requires the use of the lituus.

"The final design produced by the software could have been made by a manufacturer in Bach's time," noted Campbell.