Saturday, July 28, 2007

Fake Big Toe from Roman Mummy

BBC News

This BBC news item is accompanied by a photograph of the prosthetic toe under discussion.

An artificial big toe found on the foot of an ancient Egyptian mummy could be the world's earliest functional fake body part, UK experts believe. A Manchester University team hope to prove that the leather and wood "Cairo toe" not only looked the part but also helped its owner walk. They will test a replica in volunteers whose right big toe is missing. If true, the toe will predate the currently considered earliest practical prosthesis - a fake leg from 300BC. If we can prove it was functional then we will have pushed back prosthetic medicine by as much as 700 years. The Roman Capua Leg, made of bronze, was held at the Royal College of Surgeons in London but was destroyed by Luftwaffe bombs during the Second World War.

Also at News 1130

British researchers are taking steps to prove whether an artificial big toe ound attached to the foot of an ancient Egyptian mummy is actually the world's earliest known functional prosthetic body part. Known as the "Cairo toe," the wooden and leather appendage was on the mummified body of a woman discovered in a tomb from ancient Thebes, now modern-day Luxor, Egypt. Tests suggested the woman was aged 50 to 60 at the time of her death and may have lost the big toe due to diabetes. Items buried with the woman, the wife of a high priest, suggest she lived between 1069 and 664 BC.
Also at 680 News

Since being unearthed by archeologists in 2000, there has been hot debate as to the artificial toe's function: was it intended for cosmetic purposes or did it actually help its wearer walk better? Jacky Finch, who is working on her PhD at the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester, wants to settle that question once and for all. Finch, who examined the intricately crafted artifact at its home in the Cairo Museum in March, is planning to test replicas of the replacement digit on volunteers who are also missing their right big toe to see how the prosthetics
function and if they show wear and tear consistent with use in daily life.

Also at:
The University of Manchester

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