Home Sci-TechScience Hear the voice of an ancient Egyptian priest – reproduced thanks to 3D printing


Hear the voice of an ancient Egyptian priest – reproduced thanks to 3D printing

by Ace Damon
Hear the voice of an ancient Egyptian priest - reproduced thanks to 3D printing

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Forget movies like "The Mummy" or "X-Men: Apocalypse". The audio is the result of research in the United Kingdom, with one of the best preserved specimens in the country.

By Carolina Fioratti


23 Jan 2020, 17h52 – Published 23 Jan 2020, 17h25

(Leeds Teaching Hospitals / Leeds Museums and Galleries / Reproduction)

One new search, released on Thursday (23), made it possible to reproduce the voice of the mummy Nesyamun, who died three thousand years ago. It is located in Leeds City Museum and is considered one of the best preserved in the UK.

The sound obtained is something between the vowels of the English words “bad” and “bed” 一 “mal” and “cama”, in translation. When you hear it, you are likely to hear something close to the sound of sheep – or a groan. Check out the video below, released by the newspaper The Guardian.

To obtain the audio, researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London, took the mummy to Leeds' general ward, where they did CT scans. With that, they were able to reconstruct, through 3D printing, the vocal tract of the mummy. That's right: the laryngeal, pharyngeal, oral and nasal cavities were digitally recreated and then printed:

Hear the voice of an ancient Egyptian priest - reproduced thanks to 3D printing

– (Leeds Teaching Hospitals / Leeds Museums and Galleries / Reproduction)

The good preservation of the mummy facilitated the researchers' work, but not all parts of Nesyamun were in perfect condition. Your tongue, for example, has lost part of its muscle volume due to the past years. The soft palate (tissue from the back of the roof of the mouth) has not been found, and is believed to have been removed during the mummification process itself.

To make this possible, the researchers developed an electronic larynx capable of generating sound. Reproduction takes into account the position of the mummy in the sarcophagus 一 reclined and with the head back 一, and not the joint that the man used in his daily life. These small details can compromise the accuracy of the voice, but by changing the vocal tract, other sounds may be obtained in the future.

Who was Nesyamun?

This was not the first research done with Nesyamun. In 1824, the mummy had already been removed from its deep sleep. At the time, they found that the man died at around 50 years of age due to an allergic reaction, caused by a bite on the tongue.

Nesyamun was a priest (religious minister) and scribe, responsible for reading and interpreting laws. He lived in Thebes, an ancient Egyptian city, during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses XI, in the early 11th century BC.

The Egyptians believed in life after death. For them, there was a kind of ordeal when they died, in which they would have to recite a confession to the gods. "Only if the gods agreed, would the deceased soul pass to eternity," explains Professor Joann Fletcher, from the archeology department at York University, in an interview with The Guardian. "If they failed the test, they would have a second death – permanent."

In this casp, Nesyamun was lucky: next to his name on the sarcophagus, there are the inscriptions “true voice”, a value attributed to those who passed the test. He was a waab priest, which meant having a certain level of purification and some religious advantages.

But what no priest could have imagined was that, three thousand years later, one of them would speak again in the land of the living – an important posthumous contribution to the rescue of history.

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