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7.4.20
Dead Language

Hear an Ancient Mummy “Talk” Using a 3D-Printed Vocal Tract

January 24th 20__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Hard Science
The Telegraph via YouTube/Victor Tangermann

Voice From the Past

A mummified Egyptian priest just “spoke” for the first time in 3,000 years.

Using Computed Tomography (CT) scans of the mummy Nesyamun’s larynx and throat, a team of British researchers was able to 3D-print a replica of his vocal tract — and then use it to hear what his voice would’ve sounded like when he was alive.

Mummy’s Mouth

For their study, which was published on Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers transported the mummy from Leeds City Museum to Leeds General Infirmary where they imaged its vocal tract using a CT scanner.

The team then paired their 3D-printed recreation of Nesyamun’s vocal tract with an artificial larynx regularly used for speech synthesis.

Freedom of Speech

The sound produced by the replica vocal tract more closely resembles the bleat of a goat than human language. But the researchers believe it’s only the beginning of what may ultimately be possible using today’s technology.

“What we’d like to try to do next is develop a computer model that will allow us to move [the vocal tract] around and form different vowel sounds and hopefully, ultimately words,” researcher John Schofield told The Guardian. “This [current sound] is never a sound he would have made in life, but from it we can create sounds that would have been made during his lifetime.”

READ MORE: Talk like an Egyptian: mummy’s voice heard 3,000 years after death [The Guardian]

More on mummies: We Can Now See Individual Cells in This Mummy’s Hand