New York: Archaeologists have discovered two ancient Egyptian skeletons, dating back more than 3,300 years, each buried with a mysterious toe ring made of copper alloy.
This is the first time such rings have been found in ancient Egypt. They were likely worn while the individuals were still alive and could have been used for fashion or magical purposes, researchers said.
Supporting the magical interpretation, one of the rings was found on the right toe of a male, age 35-40, whose foot had suffered a fracture along with a broken femur above it, `LiveScience` reported.
Both skeletons were found in a cemetery just south of the ancient city of Akhetaten, now called Amarna.
The city was a short-lived Egyptian capital built by Akhenaten a pharaoh who tried to focus Egypt`s religion around the worship of the sun disc, the "Aten." He was also likely the father of Tutankhamun.
The findings do appear to be the first copper alloy toe rings discovered in ancient Egypt.
"I`m not aware of any, but that doesn`t mean they don`t exist. Bear in mind that if we found something like this in a house, for example, we would have no idea of its purpose," Anna Stevens, the assistant director of the Amarna Project told the website.
The man whose right foot had been injured was likely in great pain when alive, researchers believe.
The ring was placed on the toe of the injured foot, suggesting perhaps it was intended as a magical healing device of sorts.
"The act of `binding` or `encircling` was a powerful magical device in ancient Egypt, and a metal ring, which can be looped around something, lends itself well to this kind of action," Stevens said.
However, the skeleton of the second individual with the toe ring, found in 2012, bore no visible signs of a medical condition. Stevens notes that this individual has yet to be studied in depth by bio-archaeologists and its sex is unknown.
The skeletons were wrapped in textile and plant-stem matting, and both burials had been disturbed by tomb robbers.
The study was published in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology.