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Scientists have just “awakened” the voice of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy

About 1,100 BC, when Nesyamun – an Egyptian priest living under the reign of Pharaon Ramesses XI died – people were mummified, put into a coffin and engraved on it the last wish of he:

Nesyamun wants to keep his voice, he wants people to be able to hear his voice from the afterlife.

More than 3,000 years later, when scientists in the 21st century unearthed the mummy of Nesyamun. They deciphered the words on the casket and helped him fulfill that will.

A team of researchers at Royal Holloway University, University of London, York University and Leeds Museum together recreated Nesyamun’s voice using 3D larynx printing, based on what his body looked like. preserved.

Scientists have just “awakened” the voice of the 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy

So the voice of a mummy has been woken up, and an Egyptian priest will be able to converse with the gods again after more than 3,000 years of silence.

That was clearly his wish“said archaeological professor John Schofield from York University.”In a way, we did everything we could to make that wish a reality. “

The voice of a priest

As a purified priest (waab priest), Nesyamun can get close to the Amun statue inside the holiest sanctuary of the Karnak temple at Thebes (modern Luxor).

In the beliefs of ancient Egyptians, only the priests were allowed to enter and approach the sacred statues inside the temples. The people and even the Pharaoh are only allowed to pray outside.

Therefore, the voice of a priest plays a very important role. They are the only ones who can communicate with the gods.

Scientists have just awakened the voice of a 3 000 year old Egyptian mummy | Live

The voice of a priest plays a very important role. They are the only ones who can communicate with the gods.

Nesyamun’s daily work is done at Karnak temple, a large spiritual complex of ancient Egypt. Inside the temple of Karnak, there is a statue of Amun, the sun and air god, one hand holding a staff, one holding the resurrection key.

Every morning, Nesyamun will have to shave his hair, shower with cold water and put on a clothes made of linen or other plants. He will accompany the celebrant, come to open the seal at Karnak temple.

They will light a torch and walk inside, near the statues. The priests will say prayers, burn incense, wash statues, place clothes, jewelry and worship food nearby.

After that, hymns praising the gods will be healed. By the end of the day, the priest will leave the temple, wipe out all his footprints inside and seal the door once again.

To perform every ritual in the most solemn way, Nesyamun needs a strong voice. But analysis of the body showed that he had gum disease and his teeth were severely decayed.

Scientists have just awakened the voice of a 3 000 year old Egyptian mummy | Live

Nesyamun died around age 50, with his tongue sticking out of his mouth. Scientists think it is a manifestation of anaphylaxis when allergic.

Nesyamun died around age 50, with his tongue sticking out of his mouth. Scientists think it is a manifestation of anaphylaxis when allergic, while many speculate that he strangled himself or was strangled to death.

Wishing to keep the voice

Regardless of the cause of death, Nesyamun is the only mummy dating from the Pharaon Ramesses XI and is currently preserved at the Leeds City Museum (United Kingdom). Before 1941, up to 3 mummies were preserved here, but after a bombing on the city of Leeds during World War II, the remaining 2 mummies were completely destroyed.

This led scientists to focus on Nesyamun research very carefully. A multidisciplinary research team has been gathering since 1973. While some scientists focused on checking the condition of the mummy, diagnosing the death and living conditions of Nesyamun, some decoded. hieroglyphs outside the coffin and read his wish.

Scientists have just awakened the voice of a 3 000 year old Egyptian mummy | Live

Scientists have just awakened the voice of a 3 000 year old Egyptian mummy | Live

Scientists take Nesyamun’s mummy to Leeds City General Hospital for CT scans.

Nesyamun wants to keep his voice after he dies. “The Egyptians hoped that after their deaths, their spirits could speak, to report to the gods that they had a good life. Only when the gods agree, the soul of the deceased will enter eternity. On the contrary, they will die a second time and that death is eternal death“, says archaeologist Prof Joann Fletcher, co-author of the study.

Together with Professor Schofield, Fletcher and colleagues at Royal Holloway University, University of London, York University and Leeds Museum have launched a new research program, helping to recreate Nesyamun’s voice by using vocal cords. create.

For humans, we use the airways to create, transmit and filter sounds. Sound is produced directly in the larynx – the organ commonly known as the voice box – but we only hear it once the sound wave has passed and escaped from the airways.

So to reproduce Nesyamun’s voice, scientists had to take his mummy to Leeds City General Hospital for CT scans. From scans of soft tissues in the throat and airways, the team used 3D printing to create a plastic copy of Nesyamun’s airways.

Scientists have just awakened the voice of a 3 000 year old Egyptian mummy | Live

Scientists have just awakened the voice of a 3 000 year old Egyptian mummy | Live

The team used 3D printing to make a plastic copy of Nesyamun’s airways.

Next, a copy of Nesyamun’s respiratory tract is connected to an artificial larynx and a specialized speaker to create electronic voice. If in theory, the voice obtained by Nesyamun before death will simulate the “pond“or”argh“.

But researchers only gained one sound like “eh“of a sheep. They explained that it was a sound of the Nesyamun pose in the coffin and after the body was mummified, not the actual voice when he was alive.

And over time, because the mummy’s tongue has shrunk and the soft palate has lost, Nesyamun’s voice has a certain deviation. But based on the size of the larynx and airways, the scientists confirm this priest has a higher tone than the average man today.

Awakens the voice of a 3,000-year-old mummy

The scientists say this is the first study to successfully reproduce the voice of a dead person through 3D printing and artificial media. Nesyamun “gave us the unique opportunity to hear the voice of a long-dead person“, said Professor Fletcher.

The next step, the researchers will use more computer models “to create words and put them together into sentences“, said Professor Schofield.”We hope to create a sacrifice of what he said in the temple of Karnak“If done so, Nesyamun’s voice will be fully awakened.

The new study by Professor Schofield and colleagues was published in Science Reports.

Refer BBC, Science Reports.

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