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The Dead Speaks After 3000 Years

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Scientists have recreated the sound of a 3000 year-old mummy. The mummy was of Nesyamun, an Egyptian priest who sang and chanted words of worship at the Karnak temple in Thebes. The voice was recreated using a 3-D printer, medical scanners and an electronic larynx.

The tongue of the mummy has lost its bulk over the millennia, so is unlikely to be a precise reflection of the speech of Egyptian priest. The sound produced was somewhere between the vowels in ‘bed’ and ‘bad.’ The paper was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“We have made a faithful sound for his tract in its current position, but we would not expect an exact speech match given his tongue state,” said co-author David M. Howard of London’s Royal Holloway college.

Co-author John Schofield, an archaeologist at the University of York, said “When visitors encounter the past, it is usually a visual encounter. With this voice we can change that, and make the encounter more multidimensional. There is nothing more personal than someone’s voice, so we think that hearing a voice from so long ago will be an unforgettable experience, making heritage places like Karnak, Nesyamun’s temple, come alive.”

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