After Nesyamun, an Egyptian priest, died, his body was preserved and made ready for the after-life. The Egyptians made sure that his gift of melody would be immortalized. Thus, they put an inscription on his coffin that reads, “Nesyamun, true of voice.” He was known for singing praises of worship at the Karnak temple in Thebes, reciting words to Egyptian gods like Nut, the ancient goddess of the sky and heavens.
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Eager to hear Nesyamun’s voice again, the scientists launched a project that aims to rebuild the priest’s vocal tract. Since his throat and mouth were kept largely intact, the process was much easier for them. The researchers scanned the mummy using a CT scanner to produce a 3D image of the inside of his throat. Author David Howard, a speech scientist at Royal Holloway in London, stated that they reconstructed “the sound that would come out of his vocal tract if he was in his coffin and his larynx came to life again” after combining the images printed from a 3D printer and an electronic larynx.
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According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, the results were a success since the researchers were able to resurrect Nesyamun’s vocal tract. However, Howard clarified that the mummy can’t speak, but it might be possible for them to make the reconstructed vocal tract produce sounds of words that might have sounded like they did in the past.
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Joann Fletcher, an Egyptologist at the England’s University of York and the paper’s co-author, stated that the actual mummification process was key in the resurrection of Nesyamun’s vocal tract. “The superb quality of preservation achieved by the ancient embalmers meant that Nesyamun’s vocal tract is still in excellent shape,” she explained.