British historians and engineers restored the voice of the ancient Egyptian priest Nesyamun and made him "utter" a few sounds, enlightening his mummy with a CT scanner and a three-dimensional scanner. The results of their calculations and audio recordings were published in Scientific Reports.
"On the sarcophagus of Nesyamun, you can read that its owner led a very righteous existence. He asked the gods to return him the gift of speech so that he could tell about himself and earn the right to an eternal afterlife. This is the desire of the priest, as well as the magnificent state of the ligaments and others. the speech organs in his mummy made him one of the primary targets for our Voices from the Past project, "the scientists write.
The mummy of Nesyamun is one of the most famous ancient Egyptian artifacts stored in modern museums in Great Britain. It was brought to the territory of the United Kingdom back in 1823 and almost immediately became one of the main exhibits of the Leeds city museum. During World War II, the sarcophagus and the priest's mummy miraculously survived the bombing of the German Wehrmacht, which destroyed a significant part of the museum's collection.
According to historians today, this mummy, found on the territory of one of the temples of Amun in Karnak, contains the remains of one of the high-ranking priests of this ancient Egyptian god named Nesyamun, who lived during the time of Ramses XI, the last pharaoh of the XX dynasty. Both the remains of the religious leader and his sarcophagus are perfectly preserved, which made this artifact one of the main symbols of the decline of the New Kingdom and the subject of constant attention from scientists.
In the last ten years, as the researchers note, this mummy began to be studied not only by archaeologists and historians-Egyptologists, but also by representatives of the exact sciences. They recently scanned Nesyamun's body with a CT scanner and a 3D scanner, hoping to find out what the 50-year-old priest looked like and also reveal some of the circumstances of his life.
The past revived
In the past, such projects have already led to extremely interesting discoveries. For example, in 2012, Italian researchers enlightened the mummy of Ramses III, one of the most powerful rulers of Ancient Egypt, and found that the pharaoh died almost instantly from a dagger strike. The conspirators were led by his wife Tia and son Pentaur.
Nesyamun turned out to be interesting for another reason - in his mummy the vocal cords, larynx and other elements of the vocal tract are perfectly preserved. This made scientists think about whether it is possible to reproduce the voice of a clergyman and thereby give him a chance to get to the fields of Iala ("fields of reeds") - to the ancient Egyptian paradise.
Guided by this idea, the authors of the article used the data of computed tomography to compile an accurate three-dimensional model of his pharynx, tongue, ligaments and other organs of speech, which were then printed using a 3D printer. Engineers connected these blanks with an artificial larynx, after which they tried to reproduce sounds using this design and a special speaker.
Using this system, British researchers forced Nesyamun to pronounce several vowel sounds - they are similar to those that modern Christian priests make during liturgical services. In general, they resemble a cross between the sounds "a" and "e".
In the future, as scientists hope, the workers of the Leeds Museum will be able to use the speech synthesis algorithm, built on the basis of this three-dimensional model of the vocal tract of Nesyamun, in order to "revive" the ancient Egyptian priest and the associated exposition. In turn, their Egyptian counterparts can use similar algorithms in order to make the temple of Amun, where the priest spent his entire life, even more interesting for tourists.