Scientists reconstruct ancient mummy’s bizarre ‘sound’

The dead can talk? Well, if there’s technology, it’s possible. By scanning the shape of the vocal cord, the scientists 3D printed a copy of the vocal cord and connected it to an electronic throat to recreate the “sound” of the 3,000-year-old mummy. The resulting sound has only one vowel, which may sound a little overwhelming, but it’s definitely not the sound you want to hear when you discount your flashlight to explore the grave.

Everyone has a unique sound, which is largely due to differences in channel size and shape. If all these nuances can be captured by manual replication, then in theory, people’s voices can be reconstructed.

In the new study, researchers from Britain and Germany have managed to study a 3,000-year-old mummy. Nesyamun was an Egyptian priest known throughout his life. In the 200 years since the body was found, he has become one of the most studied mummies in the world.

Scientists reconstruct ancient mummy's bizarre 'sound'

Thanks to the mummification process, even after three thousand years, the soft tissue of the channel is well preserved. The researchers performed CT scans of Nesyamun’s throat and throat, allowing them to measure all important sizes. This allowed them to create a 3D computer model of the mummy channel and then 3D to print out a realistic copy.

By connecting it to an artificial larynx commonly used for speech synthesis, the team was able to reproduce part of Nesyamun’s speech. This is just a sound, between vowels, between the words “bed” and “bad”. Listen below:

Short chants may not be particularly annoying, but they are the only sound Nesyamun can make again. This is because the shape of the vocal cords after his death determines the production of sound. The team said it was unlikely that they would reconstruct more speech through the process because other tissues of the ancient deceased, such as his tongue and soft upper jaw, had not stood the test of time.

In other words, it’s a fascinating and somewhat weird way to experience the past.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.