Reconstruction Of 3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy’s Voice

Reconstruction Of 3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy’s Voice

In a first, researchers have reconstructed the sound produced by a 3,000-year-old mummified Egyptian priest by 3D printing his unbroken vocal tracts is a proceed towards the new ways of listening to the vocalisations of ancient humans.

The researchers, consist of those from the University of London in the UK, believe the Egyptian mummy, Nesyamun, lived during the politically eruptive reign of pharaoh Ramses XI between 1099 and 1069 BC, over 3000 years ago.

According to the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, Nesyamun worked as a secretary or scribe and priest at the state temple of Karnak in Thebes — modern-day Luxor — and his voice was an important part of his ritual duties which comprise spoken as well as sung elements 

The scientists used an X-ray tool called a computed tomography (CT) scan to carry out a detailed analysis of Nesyamun’s undamaged mouth and throat.

They then re-developed the mummy’s voice box, or larynx, using 3D printing — a process which creates a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design model, usually by adding material layer by layer.

When the researchers used the 3D printed setup with an artificial larynx commonly used in speech synthesis, they could reproduce a single sound, falling between the vowels in the English word’s ‘bed’ and ‘bad’, the study said.

“The precise dimensions of an individual’s vocal tract produce a sound unique to them. If the tract dimensions can be scientifically established, vocal sounds can be synthesised by using an electronic larynx sound source, and a 3-D printed vocal tract,” the scientists wrote in the study.

However, they added that the audile output is a single sound and does not give the basis for synthesising running speech. According to the researchers, their proof-of-concept redevelopment of a vocal tract preserved over three millennia may pave the way for new ways of presenting the past to the public.