Researchers have suspected two Egyptian artificial toes are the world’s oldest known prosthetic body parts. A new study suggests that is the case: Volunteers without a big toe showed the prosthetics would have made walking around in ancient Egyptian sandals much easier, suggesting they were not just used in burial or in some other non-practical way.
One of the artifacts in question is the Greville Chester toe, now in the British Museum. It dates back before 600 B.C. and is made of cartonnage, an ancient type of papier maché made with a mixture of linen, animal glue and tinted plaster. The other is the wood and leather Cairo toe at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which was found on a female mummy near Luxor and is thought to date back to between 950 and 710 B.C.
If the parts were indeed used to help ancient Egyptians missing a big toe walk normally, they would be the earliest known practical prostheses — older than the bronze and wooden Roman Capua leg, which dates back to 300 B.C.
"Several experts have examined these objects and had suggested that they were the earliest prosthetic devices in existence," University of Manchester researcher Jacky Finch, who led the study, said in a statement. "There are many instances of the ancient Egyptians creating false body parts for burial but the wear plus their design both suggest they were used by people to help them to walk."
To help prove this claim, Finch recruited two volunteers who were both missing their right big toe and outfitted them with replicas of the ancient fake toes and replica Egyptian sandals. The volunteers then walked 33 feet (10 meters) barefoot, with shoes on and then with the replica toes both with and without sandals. Finch recorded their movements and measured the pressure of their footsteps with a special mat.
A volunteer in the study wears a replica of an ancient Egyptian prosthetic toe with imitation Egyptian sandals.
The fake toes allowed one of the volunteers up to 87 percent of the flexion of the intact left toe when wearing the replicas with the sandals. But this volunteer’s ability to push off the ground was diminished without the sandals. Meanwhile, the second volunteer got between 60 and 63 percent flexion wearing the replicas with and without the sandals, according to a statement from the University of Manchester.
The false toes also did not cause any high-pressure points for the two volunteers, suggesting the prosthetics were relatively comfortable. But wearing the sandals without the artificial toes caused pressure under the foot to rise sharply, the researchers said.
"The pressure data tells us that it would have been very difficult for an ancient Egyptian missing a big toe to walk normally wearing traditional sandals," Finch said in a statement, adding that her research suggests these false toes made walking in a sandal more comfortable.
Finch’s work was summarized in February 2011 in the journal the Lancet, though at the time the actual data hadn’t been verified and so wasn’t released. The new publication, in the September issue of the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics, includes the data from the tests and gives a much more detailed analysis of the prosthetic toes.
The ancient Egyptians often restored artificial body parts to corpses, which means what might appear to be useful prosthetics actually were not. "The theology of Osiris, the god of the dead, stated that the body, in order to be effective during the afterlife, should be complete," Finch explained. "Osiris himself, according to myth, was cut up and his body parts scattered and later reunited."
Scientists have found a variety of artificial body parts restored on mummies, including feet, legs, noses, ears—and even penises. "You were still able to procreate in the afterlife," Finch told LiveScience.
"This series, "A Futuristic Look at Ancient Lenses: A Symposium on Ancient Egypt" focuses on topics and discussions from Ancient Egypt, and involved scholars from across the Eastern Illinois University Campus. In this video, Dr. Kip McGilliard discusses medicine in Ancient Egypt."
Philosophy and Practice of Medicine in Ancient Egypt
Guatemala’s top court overturns ex-dictator’s genocide conviction 2013 05 22 Guatemala’s top court has thrown another curve into the genocide case of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, overturning his conviction and ordering that the trial be taken back to the middle of the proceedings.
The ruling late Monday threw into disarray a process that had been hailed as historic for delivering the first guilty verdict for genocide against a former Latin ...
Papers Please: TSA-Style Checkpoints at UK Bus & Train Stations 2013 05 22 ‘Airport-style’ harassment to “help people who use public transport feel safer.”
Travel by train, tram or bus to destinations in central England and you are increasingly likely to be greeted by Britain’s ‘yellowjackets’: the high-visibility uniforms of Britain’s police force.
‘Airport-style’ security checkpoints are being rolled out at local bus and train stations up and down the UK after local pilot schemes ...
Man with ties to Boston bombing suspect shot, killed during FBI questioning 2013 05 22 As the investigation by officials into the Boston Marathon Bombing unfolds, the revelations are becoming stranger and more suspect.
An FBI agent shot and killed an Orlando man and former mixed-martial arts fighter believed to be tied to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
Early this morning, during a post-midnight interview with Ibragim Todashev at his apartment, an ...
The Soviet Story - Why killing is essential to communism 2013 05 22
Communist regimes around the Globe are responsible for a greater number of deaths than any other political ideal or movement, including Nazism (death toll totals more than 94 million people). In the USSR alone communists killed more than 20 million people. Where are the seeds of evil that makes killing and torturing so essential to the ideology of Communism?
Video from: ...
Global warming debunked: NASA report verifies carbon dioxide actually cools atmosphere 2013 05 22 Practically everything you have been told by the mainstream scientific community and the media about the alleged detriments of greenhouse gases, and particularly carbon dioxide, appears to be false, according to new data compiled by NASA’s Langley Research Center. As it turns out, all those atmospheric greenhouse gases that Al Gore and all the other global warming hoaxers have long ...