Published: Sat, January 25, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

‘3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy’s voice recreated’

‘3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy’s voice recreated’

Using a CT scanner, scientists have created a three-dimensional model of organs of speech Nesyamun and printed them on a 3D printer.

The mummy is 3,000-years-old, and since its discovery nearly 200 years ago, the mummified priest has become one of the most well-studied mummies in the world.

Indeed, with this proof-of-concept experiment done, the researchers can now look to other possibilities, such as recreating words and even entire sentences.

"This innovative interdisciplinary collaboration has given us the unique opportunity to hear the sound of someone long dead by virtue of their soft tissue preservation combined with new developments in technology", Fletcher, a professor in York's department of archaeology, said in a statement.

In humans, the vocal tract is the passage where sound is filtered.

CT scans of Nesyamun's larynx and throat were carried out by Schofield and his team, where they discovered enough scar tissue remained for them to measure the dimensions of his airway from the larynx to the lips. The team replicated the voice of Egyptian priest Nesyamun from the Leeds City Museum in the United Kingdom using medical scanners, 3D printing, and an electronic larynx. "With this voice, we can change that and make the meeting more multidimensional". Scientific analysis of his remains has contributed to a greater understanding of ancient Egypt.

Scientists have fulfilled a mummified Egyptian priest's wish for life after death - by replicating his voice with artificial vocal cords. They were able to create a single burst of sound, a vowel-like bleat between the E in "bed" and the A in "bad".

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Prof David Howard from Royal Holloway said: "I was demonstrating the vocal tract organ in June 2013 to colleagues, with implications for providing authentic vocal sounds back to those who have lost the normal speech function of their vocal tract or larynx following an accident or surgery for laryngeal cancer".

By making use of the singing system with a fabricated throat noise, they synthesized a vowel noise implied to be comparable to the voice of Nesyamun.

Flawless preservation conditions of the body's soft tissues are a must for such a breakthrough to occur, meaning that it is quite impossible for most remains.

Another co-author of the study also at the University of York who is an archaeologist, Prof John Schofield said the team's approach could offer the public a new way to engage with the past.

Employed as a high-ranking priest and scribe at the Karnak state temple in Thebes, Nesyamun performed rituals filled with both song and speech.

As the only mummy to have been dated from the reign of Ramses XI, Nesyamun offers important insights.

Because Nesyamun's body is so exquisitely preserved, it has been the subject of much research by scientists and researchers since arriving at the Leeds Museum in 1823.

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