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Ancient Egyptians 'used prosthetic body parts'

15th February 2011

New research has revealed that the ancient Egyptians may have been the first civilisation to use prosthetic body parts to simplify everyday life, in 600BC.

According to academics at the University of Manchester, a three-part wood and leather artefact in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo originally served more than an aesthetic purpose.

Dr Jacky Finch, who led the study, wrote in the Lancet medical journal that the Cairo device and the similar Greville Chester artificial toe on display at the British Museum were functional walking aids.

To test this theory, recreations of the two artefacts were used by volunteers wearing replica Egyptian sandals, with the study participants reporting that they could walk 'extremely well' in them.

'My findings strongly suggest that both of these designs were capable of functioning as replacements for the lost toe and so could indeed be classed as prosthetic devices,' Dr Finch explained.

In 2007, a study conducted at the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester claimed that the origins of modern medicine lie in ancient Egypt and not with the Greeks, as once thought.

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