Voice of mummified Egyptian priest heard for first time in 3,000 years

A mummified Egyptian priest dead for millennia has been granted the gift of gab after scientists used 3D printed vocal cords to recreate his voice, fulfilling the priest’s dying wish to be heard from the afterlife.

After some 3,000 years of silence, the mummy – named Nesyamun – is no longer tongue-tied thanks to a British research team, which painstakingly mapped out the priest’s well-preserved vocal tract for replication in a 3D printer. The team published its findings in Scientific Reports on Thursday, along with a clip showcasing Nesyamun’s new voice – here’s what he had to say:

The first successful attempt to artificially reproduce the voice of a deceased person, the project has provided a “unique opportunity to hear the sound of someone long dead,” said Joann Fletcher, a professor of archaeology at the University of York and co-author of the study.

Hailing from the city of Thebes, Nesyamun last roamed the earth around 1100 BC, living under the reign of pharaoh Ramses XI and fulfilling his priestly duties at the Karnak temple complex. It was his “express wish” to be heard from beyond the grave, Fletcher told the BBC.

It’s actually written on his coffin – it was what he wanted… In a way, we’ve managed to make that wish come true.

While the team has only been able to reproduce one vowel-like sound so far, in the future, the researchers will attempt to “generate words and string those words together to make sentences,” Fletcher said, adding “we’re hoping we can create a version of what he would have said at the temple at Karnak.”

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