Using Science to Hear an Ancient Mummy Speak

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Using Science to Hear an Ancient Mummy Speak

Daisy Hernandez

Quote:Scientists from the Royal Holloway-University of London used CT scans to create a 3D model of a 3,000-year-old mummy’s vocal tract. The mummy, Nesyamun, lived during the reign of Ramses XI (1107-1078 BCE) and worked at a temple in Thebes along the Nile. Today, he’s more commonly known as the Leeds Mummy, named after London's Leeds City Museum where it's on display. Science reports he “likely sang and spoke to the gods as part of his ritual duties.”

According to D.M. Howard, professor of electrical engineering at Royal Holloway-University of London, and lead author of a paper published in Scientific Reports, the voice reconstruction was made possible by measuring “the precise dimensions of [Nesyamun’s] extant vocal tract following (CT) scanning.”

The researchers noted that Nesyamun’s vocal tract soft tissue was “reasonably intact”—which is more common in mummified corpses. This level of preservation helped scientists create the 3D model. There was, however, a caveat; given the available soft tissue, the researchers were only able to synthesize what Nesyamun’s voice sounded like when pronouncing a vowel.

“This acoustic output is for the single sound for the extant vocal tract shape; it does not provide a basis for synthesizing running speech,” according to the paper.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

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I came across that topic elsewhere:

Mummy returns: Voice of 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest brought to life
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