Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ancient Egyptian Fake Toes Earliest Prosthetic Devices In Existence

False toe

Two ancient Egyptian wooden toes have been confirmed as the world's oldest prosthetics, according to scientific tests.
"A brief paper was published in the Lancet in February 2011, but it did not contain the data from the study," Jacqueline Finch, a researcher at the University of Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, said in a statement.
Discovered in the necropolis of Thebe near present-day Luxor, the two artificial toes -- the so-called Greville Chester toe housed in the British Museum and the Tabaketenmut toe at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo -- have been called by several experts the earliest prosthetic devices in existence.
Exquisitely crafted from cartonnage (a sort of papier maché mixture made using linen, glue and plaster) the Greville Chester toe dates from before 600 BC and comes in the shape of the right big toe and a portion of the right foot.
The other false toe, a three-part wood and leather artifact dating from between 950 to 710 B.C., was found attached to the right toe of a mummy identified as Tabaketenmut. She was a priest's daughter who might have lost her toe following gangrene triggered by diabetes.
"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," Finch said.
"To try to prove this has been a complex and challenging process involving experts in not only Egyptian burial practices, but also in prosthetic design and in computerized gait assessment," she added.
According to the pressure measurements, there were no overly high pressure points in both volunteers, indicating that the false toes were comfortable and not causing any tissue damage.
The performance and perceived comfort of this replacement means that "nascent prosthetic science may have been emerging in the Nile Valley as early as 950 to 710 B.C.," Finch and colleague Ann Rosalie David, professor of biomedical Egyptologyat the University of Manchester, wrote.
The three-part example pre-dates by some 400 years what is currently thought to be the oldest, although untested, prosthetic device. This is a Roman leg made out of bronze and wood in around 300 B.C, known as the Capua leg.

No comments: