3-D printing gives voice to a 3000-year old Egyptian priest

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on January 25, 2020

In a recent study published in Scientific Reports journal on Thursday, scientists have revealed the voice of a 3000-year old priest by 3-D printing his vocal tract.

A team of scientists imitated the vocal cord of 3000-year old priest Nesyamun, who lived in Thebes by developing an artificial vocal cord using 3-D printing.

The team was able to reproduce a single sound of the mummified priest which sounded like a “like a long, exasperated "meh" without the "m,” rather than speech, CNN reported.

The researchers hope to utilise similar computer models to recreate entire sentences using Nesyamun's voice, the BBC reported.

According to the CNN report, David Howard, an academic involved in the project had previously successfully reproduced the sounds of living people including his own using this method. Artificial vocal cords with precise dimension can be recreated using 3-D printing to imitate the voice. This is a first-of-its-kind project to actually recreate the voice of a dead person.

The team chose the mummified priest Nesyamun from the Leeds City Museum in the UK as the soft tissue in his throat and his vocal tract were intact enough for the experiment, the report said.

The project was initiated in 2016 where the mummy was taken for a CT scan in the Leeds General Infirmary to track the exact dimensions of the vocal cord.

The 3-D printed vocal cord was attached to an artificial larynx and a loudspeaker to hear the imitated sound produced by the artificial vocal cord which was then released with the Scientific Reports study.

Howard told CNN that the team would like to further build the study and artificially create a tongue for the priest to recreate the sound of him singing as singing and chanting were an integral part of the priest’s ancient Egyptian rituals. The tongue would be created based on the vocal tract as the mummy’s original tongue had wasted away over the years.

Meanwhile, the recreated voice will likely be a part of the exhibit at Leeds Museum, the report said.

Published on January 25, 2020

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