A 3-D printed vocal tract lets an ancient mummy speak from beyond the grave

Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 11:00 in Paleontology & Archaeology

A replica of a 3,000-year-old mummy’s vocal tract has revealed how that mummy might sound if he rose from the dead. Using CT scans of the mummified Egyptian priest Nesyamun (SN: 8/18/14), researchers mapped the exact shape of the mummy’s vocal tract — which governs the unique sound of a person’s voice. When connected to an artificial voice box, a 3-D printed mold of the mummy’s vocal tract produces a sound somewhere between the vowels in “bed” and “bad,” researchers report January 23 in Scientific Reports. “We are confident that the sound we are hearing is the sound that belongs to this vocal tract … because we’ve done this in the past for [living] humans” and gotten good matches between real and synthetic voices, says David Howard, an electronic engineer at Royal Holloway, University of London in Egham. Postmortem moan A replica of an Egyptian mummy’s vocal tract, hooked up to an artificial voice box tuned to...

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