Does the curse of the mummy begin with bunions?
Jacky Finch, a researcher at the University of Manchester's KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, is testing to see whether two large wooden toes from the era of the Pharaohs were ornamental or actual medical devices.
If the wooden toes turn out to be prosthetics, this will mean that the art of making fake body parts for practical is centuries older than believed. The oldest prosthesis yet discovered is an artificial leg dating from 300 B.C. The toes are from between 1,000 B.C. and 600 B.C.
One toe, attached to a bit of mummy, is in the British Museum and known as Greville Chester Great Toe after the collector who acquired it for the museum in 1881. (Not to be confused with Gibbon's lesser toes, or the House of Hanover's web finger collection). It is made from cartonnage, a papier maché-like substance made from linen, glue and plaster. The second toe comes from a museum in Cairo.
"The Cairo toe is the most likely of the two to be functional as it is articulated and shows signs of wear. It is still attached to the foot of the mummy of a female between 50 and 60 years of age. The amputation site is also well-healed," he stated in a prepared statement. "Unlike the Cairo specimen, the Greville Chester toe does not bend and so is likely to have been more cosmetic."
Just like old Greville--never willing to bend.
Finch has created models of the toes and is looking for people missing similar toes with similar-sized feet to test them. It could be your opportunity for scientific immortality.