Egyptian Mummy “Speaks” Again After 3,000 Years, Helped by Scientists

The mummified body of an ancient Egyptian mummy named Nesyamun is the living proof that mummy’s do have a voice. A science team made it possible by scanning its body to make a copy of its voice. This experiment took place in 2018 and is the first time when the voice of an Egyptian mummy is heard again after 3000 years.

After it was found, Nesyamun’s throat and trachea were in remarkable condition, and scientists were able to reconstruct and simulate what the priest’s voice may have sounded like.

Piero Cosi, a speech scientist who in 2016 was part of a team that roughly reconstructed the voice of another widely studied mummy, Ötzi, maintained that the reconstruction was largely speculative even with Nesyamun’s almost perfectly preserved vocal tract.

Nesyamun was the only remaining mummy that was left unscathed after the Leeds Blitz bombing of 1941, which destroyed the front half of the museum. Nesyamun’s remains were intact and suffered no damage, even though the coffin had been smashed during the bombings.

Scientists Made an Ancient Egyptian Mummy to “Speak” Again

One of the things that make mummification special among internment rites is that unlike simple burial in which bodies decay relatively quickly, leaving only bones behind it preserves soft tissue.

That makes it possible to study far more of the remains and determine much about the lives the mummies led and their health before their deaths. And provided you know what you’re doing, it can also tell you how they sounded.

A relatively minor portion of Nesyamun’s vocal tract, the soft palate, about the size of a small coin, was missing, but its shape could be easily inferred and added to the model.

The tongue, while present, had lost much of its bulk, and while that does influence voice, it is a complex structure not easily reconstructed, so the researchers did not try. After they “resurrect” the mummy’s voice, the only sound heard, was like a cow’s “mooing.”

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