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Egyptian 3000-Year-Old Mummy Speaks After Landmark Vocal Cord Reconstruction

NileFM logo NileFM 1/26/2020 Nile FM Staff
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Scientists were able to create a 3D replica of the vocal tract of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian high-priest Nesyamun, whose mummified body has been on display in the UK for the last 200 years.

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie and was accomplished by a team of scientists behind the “Voices of the Past” initiative, with the goal of reconstructing the voices of ancients to better understand and connect with them. With the use of electronic devices, CT scans, and 3D printing we are able to hear Nesyamun speak and hear the pitch of how he might have spoken in real life.

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(Provided by Albawaba)

Their first goal is to recreate the voice of the ancient Egyptians because their local systems are in almost perfect condition after preservation in the mummification process. They say they might get him to speak in full sentences soon.

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(Provided by: ABC News)

Nesyamun was an Egyptian priest in Thebes, modern day Luxor, and has been called one of the best preserved and most researched dead people in the world. He has been housed at the Leeds City Museum in the UK since he was unwrapped in 1824.

"Given Nesyamun's stated desire to have his voice heard in the afterlife in order to live forever, the fulfillment of his beliefs through the synthesis of his vocal function allows us to make direct contact with ancient Egypt by listening to a sound from a vocal tract that has not been heard for over 3000 years, preserved through mummification and now restored through this new technique," states the “Voices from the Past” report on the project’s results.

Despite this sounding like a lot of science, it’s not an exact science; as there are no actual recordings of Nesyamun, this was before SoundCloud, so we can never be sure if its 100% right.

Researchers have done something like this before when a team of Italian scientists were able to reconstruct the voice of Otzi, an iceman who was discovered in 1991 and is thought to be more than 5000 years old. However, they say Nesyamun’s voice reconstruction is far more accurate because the mummy is in far better condition than Otzi.

As a priest, Nesyamun chanted and sang the daily vows to the Egyptian god Amun. Perhaps now that Amun has heard his faithful servant once again, Nesyamun will sleep more peacefully in his Leeds Museum home, and not curse the researchers who dared to disturb his slumber.


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