After discovering a toe made out of wood and leather on an Egyptian mummy from between 950 and 710 BC, researcher Dr. Jacky Finch wanted to know if it was used for more that just looks. Comparing it to another artificial toe from before 600 BC (this time made of a linen and plaster mixture known as “cartonnage”) helped Dr. Finch realize that these false toes actually helped the wearers walk.
(photo from the University of Manchester study)
The signs of use on the finds and their design lead to the hypothesis that was tested on two modern day volunteers missing their own right big toe. By strapping models of the artifacts on and measuring the subject’s ability to walk in different scenarios using pressure probes (as can be seen in the above image), the researchers determined that the false toes made it comfortable for the wearer to maneuver in traditional footwear.
This new find has bumped out a 300 BC wooden and bronze leg for the title of “world’s oldest prostethic” can be read about in the current issue of the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics.