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Mummy may have first artificial limb

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July 27

An artificial big toe attached to the foot of an ancient Egyptian mummy could prove to be the world's earliest functional prosthetic body part, scientists from the University of Manchester said.

They hope to prove that a wood and leather toe really helped its owner walk, making it the first practical prosthesis.

Currently, that title is held by an artificial leg from 300 B.C. The toe in question is believed to be from between 1000 and 600 B.C.

Researchers hopes to find volunteers who have lost a toe to test a replica of the Egyptian toe.

It was found on the mummy of a woman who was between 50 and 60 years old.

It shows signs of wear, indicating that it may have been worn by its owner in life and not simply attached after death.


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Posted (edited)

Here's and excerpt from this Ancient Egypt site:

Prostheses were generally of a cosmetic character, such as an artificial toe made of cartonnage at the British Museum, or added as a preparation for afterlife such as a forearm on a mummy in Arlington Museum (England) and an artificial penis and feet on another mummy in the Manchester Museum . A wooden big toe prosthesis has also been found (Albert Zink [24]) which must have improved the walking capabilities of its wearer, a fifty to sixty year old woman, after her big toe had been amputated, possibly because of gangrene...

Here's an article with a picture of the artificial toe in question linked-image : Link

It seems very likely to me that the ancient Egyptians were one of the earliest - if not the first - cultures to experiment with making artificial body parts. It may well have begun as a need for them to symbolically be whole in the afterlife, but it makes sense to think that this idea would've soon progressed to them making the artificial body parts for the living, too. :D

Edited by Mr. Mummy's Merry Maiden!

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