A mummified body of an ancient Egyptian personality, like a priest, is horrifying in itself. What more if the mummy can speak?

United Kingdom scientists, historians, and archeologists made it to the headlines after replicating the voice of a 3,000-year-old priest from ancient Egypt, with the use of 3D printed vocal tract, TIME reported. 

TIME Magazine

The voice is from a priest named Nesyamun who was able to produce sounds that replicated short vowels, leading to more discoveries and perspectives as to how ancient Egyptians uttered their words. 

The scientists said, “The synthesis of his vocal function allows us to make direct contact with ancient Egypt by listening to a sound from a vocal tract that has not been heard for over 3,000 years, preserved through mummification and now restored through this new technique.”

TIME Magazine

‘Voice of the Past’ 

This study is one of the many projects called “Voices Of The Past,” in collaboration with the Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of York, Leeds General Infirmary, and Leeds Museum and Galleries, TIME added. 

The ancient Egyptian priest was also a scribe and incense-bearer during the time of King Ramses XI, one of the popular pharaohs of Egypt. The study also revealed they particularly selected this mummified body for the project because of his well-preserved throat. 

With the CT scan, the research further showed the vocal tract of Nesyamun, specifically between his lips to his larynx, and the 3D results mapping the structure. 

Opening doors to history

A priest would often have this body structure in the throat area because of public speaking, or officiating services in the ancient Egyptian religion. His mummy is the perfect choice to study how ancient Egyptians spoke. 

Moreover, the “Voices Of The Past” project held on to the belief that hearing a mummy’s voice revives his or her life in the past. 

Nesyamun’s voice

After the printing of the 3D vocal tract, University of London’s Royal Holloway electronic engineering head, Professor David Howard, created an “artificial larynx with a loudspeaker using an electronic waveform.” It’s their version of the speech synthesizers, and they played the sound in a speaker as they first heard the voice of Nesyamun. 

It further revealed who he was in the Egyptian faith, and the voice indicated he would chat or sing the daily liturgy, characterized by the falling intonation from his vocal tract. It also showed how he was an inspiring figure in society during his time. 

The research is co-authored by John Schofield, Joann Fletcher, Katherine Baxter, G.R. Iball, and Stephen Buckley.