Two ancient Egyptian wooden toes have been confirmed as the world’s oldest prosthetics, according to scientific tests.
Involving two volunteers who were both missing their right big toe, the test are reported in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics.
"A brief paper was published in the Lancet in February 2011, but it did not contain the data from the study," Jacqueline Finch, a researcher at the University of Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, said in a statement.
Discovered in the necropolis of Thebe near present-day Luxor, the two artificial toes — the so-called Greville Chester toe housed in the British Museum and the Tabaketenmut toe at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo — have been called by several experts the earliest prosthetic devices in existence.
Exquisitely crafted from cartonnage (a sort of papier maché mixture made using linen, glue and plaster) the Greville Chester toe dates from before 600 BC and comes in the shape of the right big toe and a portion of the right foot.
The other false toe, a three-part wood and leather artifact dating from between 950 to 710 B.C., was found attached to the right toe of a mummy identified as Tabaketenmut. She was a priest’s daughter who might have lost her toe following gangrene triggered by diabetes.
Both fake toes show significant signs of wear. Moreover, they feature holes for lacings to either attach the toes onto the foot or fasten it onto a sock or sandal.