Old­est ar­ti­fi­cial toe for Egyp­tian noble woman dates from 3,000 years ago

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ARCHAEOLOGICAL NEWS -

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 3,000 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 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 pros­the­sis from the Early Iron Age was found in a plun­dered shaft tomb that was cut into the bedrock of an older, long time idle burial chapel at the grave­yard hill of Sheikh ´Abd el-Qurna to the west of Luxor. This chapel be­longs to a group of mon­u­men­tal rock-cut tombs from the late 15th cen­tury BC which were built for a small up­per class that was close to the royal fam­ily.

Toe pros­the­sis of a fe­male from The­ban tomb TT95. Egyp­tian Mu­seum Cairo, JE100016a

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