Egyptian artisan created prosthetic wooden toe 3,000 years ago

Egyptologists from the University of Basel in Switzerland investigated the prosthesis using modern microscopy, X-ray technology, and computer tomography.

IANS| Last Updated: Jun 22, 2017, 00:03 AM IST

London: An artificial wooden toe worn by an Egyptian priest's daughter about 3,000 years ago was so meticulously built that it testifies to the skills of an artisan who was very familiar with the human physiognomy, say researchers.

Egyptologists from the University of Basel in Switzerland investigated the prosthesis using modern microscopy, X-ray technology, and computer tomography.

They were able to show that the wooden toe, which is likely to be one of the oldest prosthetic devices in human history, was refitted several times to the foot of its owner.

The researchers also newly classified the used materials and identified the method with which the highly developed prosthesis was produced and utilised.

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 in Switzerland were also involved in this study.

The technical know-how can be seen particularly well in the mobility of the prosthetic extension and the robust structure of the belt strap, according to a statement released by University of Basel.

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, according to the researchers.