An engineer has teamed up with archaeologists to reproduce the sound emitted by an Egyptian mummy’s vocal tract.
Nesyamun, a 3000-year-old mummified priest, was scanned using computed tomography, and the researchers — electronic engineer Professor David Howard of Royal Holloway University of London, with the University of York’s John Schofield, Joann Fletcher and Stephen Buckley — used this data to 3D-print a replica of the mummy’s vocal tract.
“I was demonstrating the vocal tract organ in June 2013 to colleagues, with implications for providing authentic vocal sounds back to those who have lost the normal speech function of their vocal tract or larynx following an accident or surgery for laryngeal cancer,” Howard said.
“I was then approached by Professor John Schofield who began to think about the archaeological and heritage opportunities of this new development.”
The vocal tract replica produces a vowel sound comparable to that in contemporary speech.