Scientists have recovered the voice of an Egyptian mummy more than 3,000 years old

Using tomography (CT) and 3D printing technology, UK scientists have reconstructed the voice of Nesyamun, an Egyptian mummy more than 3,000 years old.

The 3,000-year-old mummy of an Egyptian priest has just been researched and successfully recreated by Royal Holloway University (London). Research by Royal Holloway University uses parameters when measuring the size of the mummy’s vocal cords, thereby calculating and reconstructing the previous voice of this priest.

Nesyamun mummy. (Photo: Leeds Museum and Library).

The mummy of a priest named Nesyamun (according to the inscriptions on the coffin) is said to hold the position of high priest (waab – High Priest) who lived during the reign of pharaoh Ramses XI (1099-1069 BC). Original). This priest worshiped at the temple of Karnak in Thebes.

The mummy of the ancient Egyptian priest Nesyamun is put into a CT scanner to examine the respiratory tract. (Photo: Scientific Reports).

As with today’s clerics, the voice was a very important part of Nesyamun’s daily work, which included reciting vows and singing prayers.

Scientists at Leeds General Hospital measured, calculated and 3D printed the mummy’s larynx, thereby recreating the voice with the highest match with the real voice of the mummy when she was alive. The process of research and measurement went through many difficulties because the mummy had lost most of its soft tissues, but in the end scientists succeeded.

Next, the replica is connected to an artificial larynx and specialized speakers to create an electronic voice. Over time, the mummy’s tongue atrophied and lost its soft mouth ring, so researchers had to replenish it.

Imhotep – The famous priest of ancient Egypt. Illustration

If true in theory, Nesyamun’s acquired voice before death would be “ao” or “argh”, while the acquired voice would be “eh”.

Upon further investigation, Professor David Howard, study co-author and dean of the Royal Holloway School of Electronic Engineering, University of London, learned that it was the sound of Nesyamun in the coffin and after mummification, not the sound of Nesyamun. Realistic voice when he was alive.

Given the size of the larynx and airways, Nesyamun’s voice had a higher tone than today’s average male.

According to Joann Fletcher, Professor of Archeology at York University and co-researcher of the project, the desire of the priests was to “continue to evangelize in the afterlife”, and above all else It also clearly states that this is what the priest Nesyamun wants. Professor Joann Fletcher also said that she will continue to work to reconstruct short words and then complete sentences to match the newly reconstructed voice.

A 3D printed replica of the respiratory tract of the mummy Nesyamun. (Photo: Scientific Reports).

As a priest, Nesyamun’s voice was important because he had to talk, sing and chant during ceremonies in addition to carrying incense and taking notes at the temple of Karnak in Thebes. After his death, a voice with him was also essential.

“The Egyptians hoped that after death, their souls could speak to read the Negative Confession, reporting to the gods that they had had a good life. Only when the gods agreed would the deceased’s souls be. go to eternity. Otherwise, they will die a second time and that is eternal death,” said archaeologist Joann Fletcher, co-author of the study.

Fletcher added that those accepted by the god would be called “true of voice” (a phrase inscribed in Nesyamun’s coffin).

The priests were also the guardians of the temple

Prof John Schofield, co-author of the study, said the method could be applied to other mummies, such as those from the Iron Age in Denmark.

Howard revealed that his team is looking to develop a computer model that would allow the airways to be moved to make different sounds, even a meaningful word spoken while alive.

Nesyamun’s mummy voice reconstruction offers insight into antiquity, a breakthrough in how we connect with the past.

The priests are listening to the orders of Pharaoh

The study also said that Nesyamun died at the age of about 50, suffering from gingivitis and severe tooth decay. The mummy is currently on display at the Leeds City Museum (Yorkshire, England).