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Found: A 3,000-Year-Old Prosthetic Toe

It’s one of the oldest prosthetic devices ever discovered.

The prosthetic toe.
The prosthetic toe. University of Basel, LHTT/Matjaž Kačičnik

Sometime about 3,000 years ago, a priest’s daughter in Egypt lost her big toe. After she died, she was buried in a shaft tomb not far from Luxor, in a cemetery reserved for elite members of the community.

For the past year and a half, scientists from the University of Basel, in Switzerland, have been studying this place, and as part of their research, they found the burial place of the priest’s daughter, along with the prosthetic toe that was crafted to replace her missing digit.

This prosthetic device is likely one of the oldest known today. Made of wood, the toe came with panels that could be laced together to keep the device snug to her foot. After studying the device closely, the University of Basel found that it had been refitted more than once to the woman’s foot.

The fact that the prosthesis was made in such a laborious and meticulous manner indicates that the owner valued a natural look, aesthetics and wearing comfort and that she was able to count on highly qualified specialists to provide this,” according to a University of Basel press release.