The voice of an Egyptian priest who died 3,000 years ago has been heard for the first time thanks to a detailed reconstruction made by British scientists from his mummy using computed tomography, 3D printing, an electronic larynx and a speaker.
"What we have done is to create the sound of Nesyamun as it is in his sarcophagus," Professor David Howard of the University of London explained to The Guardian, "it is not a sound of his speech as such, since in reality is not talking. "
The results of the experiment, started in 2013, were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The mummy, which was in the Museum of the City of Leeds, was taken to a hospital where she was subjected to a series of CT scans . From these, the digital reconstruction of the vocal tract of Nesyamun was performed and reproduced through 3D printing.
However, an important element was missing: the soft palate, which had to be reproduced virtually by scientists. Then they coupled this with an electronic larynx and a speaker.
The result is that of an electronic voice, specifically that of Nesyamun lying in his coffin after mummification.
The team analyzed data and recordings of modern men and said that the sound of the mummy - like "eeuuughhh" - is similar to that of the vowels in the English words "bad" and "bed" (bed).
This is the sound:
Howard explained that the dimensions of Nesyamun's larynx and vocal tract suggest that his voice would have been slightly sharper than that of today's average man.
Nesyamun lived during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses XI (1099-1069 BC) and was a priest at the Karnak temple in Thebes (now Luxor). His voice would have been essential for his work, because besides speaking, he had to sing as part of his duties.
After being found, the mummy was moved to the British city of Leeds, where it was first opened in 1824. At that time it was determined that at death the man would have been about 50 years old.
In 1941, the coffin survived the Nazi bombing of the English city. Its decorative exterior is painted with scenes from the famous Book of the Dead, which represent Nesyamun making offerings to the deities, while the text prays for success and beyond and contact with the gods.
Initially it was thought his death was due to strangulation, but then it was considered to have been caused by an allergic reaction , such as the bite of an insect on the tongue, which would explain why the mummy had it out of the mouth.
"All the Egyptians hoped that after death their soul could speak, so that they could recite the so-called negative confession, telling the gods that they had led a good life," said study co-author Professor Joann Fletcher of the University of York "Only if the gods agreed, the deceased soul could go into eternity; if they failed the test, they died a second permanent death," he added.
Fletcher added that those who passed the test were called "true voice", a phrase that appears in the Nesyamun coffin inscriptions next to his name.
(Edited by Ivette Leyva)