The find is almost 3000 years old and was discovered in a female burial from the necropolis of Sheikh ´Abd el-Qurna close to Luxor.
It is likely to be one of the oldest prosthetic devices in human history: Together with other experts, Egyptologists from the University of Basel have reexamined an artificial wooden big toe. The find is almost 3000 years old and was discovered in a female burial from the necropolis of Sheikh ´Abd el-Qurna close to Luxor. This area is currently being studied using state-of-the-art methods.
The international team investigated the one-of-a-kind prosthesis using modern microscopy, X-ray technology, and computer tomography. They were able to show that the wooden toe was refitted several times to the foot of its owner, a priest’s daughter. The researchers also newly classified the used materials and identified the method with which the highly developed prosthesis was produced and utilized. Experts from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo — where the prosthetic device was brought to after it had been found — and the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich were also involved in this study.
The artificial toe from the early first millennium BC testifies to the skills of an artisan who was very familiar with the human physiognomy. The technical know-how can be seen particularly well in the mobility of the prosthetic extension and the robust structure of the belt strap. The fact that the prosthesis was made in such a laborious and meticulous manner indicates that the owner valued a natural look, aesthetics and wearing comfort and that she was able to count on highly qualified specialists to provide this.
The find indicates the existence of highly qualified specialists capable of engineering comfortable and flexible yet robust mechanical parts.