Voice of mummified ancient Egyptian priest brought back to life

According to the academics, the priest's "expressed wish" was for his voice to carry on into the afterlife.

A 2,300-year old mummy is displayed after it was found by the Sakkara pyramids south of Cairo, May 3, 2005 (photo credit: REUTERS)
A 2,300-year old mummy is displayed after it was found by the Sakkara pyramids south of Cairo, May 3, 2005
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Academics from universities across England have replicated the vocal patterns of an ancient Egyptian priest using artificial vocal cords - 3,000 years after his death.
The research was performed by academics at Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of York and Leeds Museum - published in Scientific Reports on Thursday.
The vocal structures of Nesyamun, a priest who served at the temple of Amun-Re in the Karnak Temple Complex of Thebes during the rule of Pharaoh Ramses XI (1099-1069BC), were recreated by 3D printing technology which manifested a precise vocal tract with an artificial larynx sound, according to the BBC.
For now, the reconstructed tone resembles a brief 'short-a' vowel sound - and with its creation becomes the first successful project to regenerate the voice of a deceased individual through artificial means. From here the team hopes to eventually use computer models "to generate words and string those words together to make sentences" within the priest's voice.
'[This project] has given us the unique opportunity to hear the sound of someone long dead", said professor of archaeology at the University of York Joann Fletcher.
According to the academics, the priest's "expressed wish" was for his voice to carry on into the afterlife.
"It's actually written on his coffin - it was what he wanted," archaeology professor John Schofield of the University of York said. "In a way, we've managed to make that wish come true."
What is interesting about the reconstructive process is that it is only possible if the vocal tissues remain at least partially intact. Since Nesyamun's mummified body was preserved properly and remained unsullied, the researchers were able to move forward with the endeavor.
Nesyamun was a waab priest, meaning he was authorized to walk directly up to the statue of Amun located in the holiest part of the temple.
Research reveals that Nesyamun dealt with gum disease and tooth decay during his tenure as a priest, and signs point to the spiritual leader passing away due to complications surrounding these medical issues, possibly an acute allergic reaction, according to the BBC.
Nesyamun is the only sarcophagus to date that stems from the rule of Ramses XI. His mummified remains are currently on display at the Leeds City Museum.


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