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
Turkey's Erdogan threatened to flood Europe with migrants: Greek website 2016-02-09 23:04
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan threatened in November to flood Europe with migrants if European Union leaders did not offer him a better deal to help manage the Middle East refugee crisis, a Greek news website said on Monday.
Publishing what it said were minutes of a tense meeting last November, the euro2day.gr financial news website revealed deep mutual irritation and distrust ...
Will Denmark Be The First Islamic Nation In Europe? 2016-02-09 23:44
Daily headlines prove that Europe is bursting at the seams with Islamists attempting to establish Sharia law and homegrown terror plots. France is ablaze with radicals, ISIS threatens they will send Spain back to the times of the Ottoman Empire, and Britain is much too concerned with appeasing Muslims that they are doing away with their own citizens’ free speech.
'Hamilton' musical: All American founders non-White, but evil King George. I hate musicals! 2016-02-09 22:43
‘Hamilton’, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, is being performed on Broadway.
You know it’s going to have political undertones, when you read that the first act is titled: “Immigrants : We get the job done!”
In addition to Alexander Hamilton, Miranda’s musical also casts Aaron Burr, George Washington, James Madison, John Laurens, Marquis Gilbert ...
Ted Nugent Posts "Anti-Semitic" Facebook Message About Gun Control 2016-02-09 22:53
Rock musician Ted Nugent posted a message about “who is really behind gun control” on Facebook that the Anti-Defamation League slammed as "anti-Semitic".
More: ADL claims 26% of all world population is “anti-semitic”
The ADL and domestic spying: Roy Bullock case revisited
"Antisemitism on rise across Europe in worst times since the Nazis" says "expert" to the Guardian
In the post, Nugent shares a ...