The original discovery may have been made in 2000, but an international team of researchers from the countries of Switzerland and Egypt theorized that the mummified wooden toe may be among the oldest prosthetics to be found. The prostheses, made for a priest’s daughter, is complicated originally thought. The prosthetic was discovered in a shaft in Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, close to the ancient city of Thebes, which is now in the ruins of the city of Luxor.
The toe is theorized to be made of a type of hardwood. Due to tests, the kind of wood has been narrowed down to two types. The scientists, headed by Andrea Loprieno-Gnirs, said that they discovered several types of materials in the prosthetic. Loprieno-Gnirs went on to say that the prosthetic was “sophisticated” giving the user “balance” and “freedom of movement,” CNN reported. Using special equipment including x-rays and computer tomography, the researchers were able to examine the prosthetic. Since its discovery in 2000, the prosthetic has been housed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
According to CNN, the prosthetic toe was “surprisingly lifelike,” and was most likely to be made by an expert craftsman in the Early Iron Age. This particular prosthetic made with the footwear of the time and replaced the right toe of the woman. The prosthetic was preserved with the skeleton upon the discovery. The strap used to attach the wooden toe woman’s foot was “robust” and likely made from plants. Loprieno-Gnirs and her team are studying what tools made the prosthetic.
CNN reported that the prosthetic was most likely from the “New Kingdom” dating 1550 to 1000 BC or 16th century BC to the 11th century BC. The New Kingdom of Egypt covered the 18th, 19th, and 20th Dynasties of Egypt. Because of Egypt’s dry climate, the wooden prosthetic was “well-preserved.” Because of the quality, realism, and appeal of the prosthetic, the team of archaeologists theorized that the woman was from an elite class.
According to a press release from the University of Basel, the prosthetic was likely to be “refitted several times to the foot of its owner.” LiveScience reported that the woman probably wanted the prosthetic to “look natural and be comfortable to wear.” The artisan who made the prosthetic likely was very familiar to the human body. The skeleton and the attached prosthetic were found in a plundered tomb leaving researchers many other artifacts to create “life histories” of ancient Egyptians.
By Cheryl Werber
Photo Courtesy Matjaž Kačičnik/University of Basel, LHTT