Scientists Reproduced the Voice of an Ancient Egyptian Mummy
Scientists from the University of London recreated the voice of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy. In order to do so, they 3D printed the mummy’s throat, tongue and vocal tract and then plugged them to an artificial larynx, as the related report in Scientific Reports reads.
The mummy in question is supposed to be a mummified body of a high-rank Egyptian priest Nesyamun, who lived 3,100 years ago.
The researchers scanned the mummified body by means of computer tomography (CT) and 3D scanner first. Thanks to the excellent state of preservation of the mummy’s vocal cords, larynx and other vocal tract elements, they could then recreate 3D-printed models of these organs and wire them to electronic larynx.
The resulting eerie tone is, of course, unlikely to be a precise reflection of Nesyamun’s speech. However, the voice was accurately reproduced as a vowel-like sound based on measurements of precise dimensions of the corpse’s vocal organs.
This single vowel result isn’t enough to synthesise running speech, the authors explain in their paper; to do that, they would need more knowledge of the specific vocal tract articulations, and the phonetics and timing of this ancient priest’s language.