Although pirates and peg legs are inextricably linked, evidence for amputations and artificial body parts date to antiquity. Limbs have been amputated for thousands of years because of injuries received during battle or accidents, as a treatment for a disease or an infection, and even as a punishment. There is osteological evidence for amputations in graves found in France, Israel, and Egypt that date back thousands of years. For as long has humans have had to remove body parts there has been a need for artificial limbs. Prosthetic body parts have been discovered in the tombs of ancient Persia, Rome, and Egypt.
The skeletal evidence for amputation is extremely rare due to misidentification of the remains. For example, if a patient doesn’t survive the amputation then the medical intervention might be mistaken for post-mortem damage or traumatic injury, rather than a surgical procedure. So survival and the healing process are critical to the identification of this type of surgery.
At the cellular level the healing process starts almost immediately, but a few days after amputation there is a no observable signs of healing. After more than a week the ends of the bone and diaphysis (mid-shaft) will undergo vascular erosion. After two weeks an endosteal callus will form on the end of the shaft that will eventually narrow and obliterate the medullary cavity. Eventually the new bone growth will give the shortened end of the diaphysis a rounded appearance.
Below are a few examples of amputated limbs in the archaeological record:
- A Neolithic burial, dating to between 4900-4700 BC, was discovered in France in 2005. It contained the remains of a man whose right arm was amputated at the end of the humerus.
- Archaeologists is Israel found the 3600-year-old remains of a 45 year-old man who was missing his right hand and wrist, and the distal ends of his radius and ulna had fused.
- In the Hammurabi Codex of about 1800 BC there is a record of a “punitive hand amputation.”
For as long as medical intervention has been needed to remove limbs there has been a demand for prosthetic body parts. Over the centuries artificial limbs have evolved into works of bionic andartistic innovation. So when archaeologists unearth the man-made body parts used in ancient times the discovery serves as a reminder of how far medicine and technology have come.
In 1910, a bronze leg was unearthed from a Roman grave in Capua, Italy. Known aptly as the Capua Leg it dates to about 300BC, and was kept at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. However, the Capua Leg was destroyed in an air raid during World War II. Thankfully the museum made a copy of the leg before it was destroyed. The copy of the Capua Leg can be seen at the Science Museum, London.
In 2000, archaeologists discovered a fake toe made out of wood and leather on a female mummy. Some archaeologists believe that the 50- to 60-year-old woman who needed the toe may have had it removed because of problems caused by diabetes. The prosthesis dates from 1069 to 664 B.C., based on artifacts found in the mummy’s tomb near Thebes. Archaeologists believe that this toe was used in life and was functional because it was jointed in three places and showed signs of wear. This is important because Egyptians had a habit of putting fake feet, legs, noses, ears, and penises on corpses during the mummification process for use in the afterlife.
Golden Eye isn’t just a weapon in a Bond film it was also an ancient artificial eye worn by a woman 5000 years ago. Iranian and Italian archaeologists discovered a golden artificial eye in an ancient necropolis near the Iranian-Afghan border in 2007. The eye was found in a grave of a woman, who was also buried with an ornate bronze hand mirror. An examination revealed that the woman was about 6 feet tall and was between 25 and 30 years old,
The artificial eye was a half-sphere, just over an inch in diameter, and was made out of a lightweight material believed to be made from bitumen paste. The surface still had traces of a thin layer of gold, and was engraved with a circle for the iris with gold lines radiating out of it. On either side of the eye were two small holes through which a thread was placed that held the prosthesis in place.
The archaeologists working at the site initially believed the eyeball might have been put in the woman’s eye for burial. However, an imprint in her eye orbit caused by long-term contact with the eye and marks from the thread revealed the woman had worn the prosthesis in life. Archaeologists also found that the woman may have had an abscess on her eyelid caused by consistent contact with the golden eyeball. Pictures of the prosthetic eye and the discovery can be seen here.
The Amazing Connections Between the Inca and Egyptian Cultures
"The ancient Egyptians (in Africa) and the ancient pre-Incas/Incas (in South America) evolved on opposite sides of the globe and were never in contact.
Yet, both cultures mysteriously possessed the same strikingly identical body of ancient art, architecture, symbolism, mythology and religion.
The Victorian era scholars, faced with this enigma, concluded that both cultures must have been children of the same Golden Age parent civilization, “Atlantis.”
Today, Egyptian/Inca parallels are not only being ignored by American and Western scholars, they’re being suppressed.
Many baffling and unsolved similarities link the ancient Egyptians and the ancient pre-Incas/Incas ― even though both cultures evolved on opposite sides of the planet, separated by oceans” Read More
Ancient History is always important.
THEY’RE NOWHERE NEAR THE SAME YOU MISERABLE FUCKING PEONS!
LIKE HOLY FUCKING SHIT, LET ME COUNT THE WAYS
- COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND UNRELATED LANGUAGE
- LACK OF RECORDS OF ANY GROUPS OR CIVILIZATIONS BEYOND THE GIANT BODY OF WATER.
- EGYPTIANS USED HIEROGLYPHS, WHILE THE INCA USED QUIPUS, WHICH ISN’T EVEN A WRITTEN LANGUAGE!
- COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ARTISTIC AND CULTURAL STYLES
- A LACK OF ANY KIND OF FOOD EXCHANGE, WHICH WOULD BE NECESSARY AND SOMETHING WE WOULD BE ABLE TO PROVE IF ATLANTIS EXISTED.
- ALSO, VICTORIAN-ERA PEOPLE WERE KIND OF DUMB. CASE IN POINT, THEY STILL FUCKING BELIEVED IN ATLANTIS.
BEYOND ALL THAT, A CURSORY LOOK AT THE LINK LISTS MANY THINGS AS “PRE-INCA”. I.E., NOT INCA.
YOU KNOW WHO ELSE BUILT PYRAMIDS? AZTECS. NO ONE WITH TWO BRAIN CELLS TO RUB TOGETHER WOULD CLAIM THAT THE AZTECS AND INCA ARE SUPER SIMILAR.
I COULD HONESTLY GO ON FOR HOURS AND BREAK DOWN WHY EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE “FACTS” OR “SIMILARITIES” IS ASININE AND PSEUDO-SCIENTIFIC BULLSHIT BUT I DO NOT HAVE THE TIME FOR THAT RIGHT NOW.
In a survey of scientists engaged in field research, the majority — 64 percent — said they had personally experienced sexual harassment while at a field site, and 22 percent reported being the victim of sexual assault.
Most of the people reporting harassment or assault were women, and the vast majority were still students or postdocs.
And for female victims, the perpetrator was more likely to be a superior, not a peer. “This is happening to them when they are trainees, when they are most vulnerable within the academic hierarchy,” says evolutionary biologist Katie Hinde , an author on the study in PLOS ONE. Hinde and her colleagues say this could be a factor in the large number of women who enter scientific fields but don’t continue.
Students work at an archaeological dig near Silchester, England.
There’s a great series of posts out there in the archaeology blogging world about “Unwritten Rules of Professional Archaeology.” Looking to work as an archaeologist? Read up on the good advice and hard truths.
A sketch I did of one of the statues at the Mayan exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science today. I’d had grand plans to draw my way through the entire exhibit, but turns out there’s so much cool stuff to look at in there, even the 2.5 hours I had wasn’t enough time to see it all AND draw more than one thing! In any case — HIGHLY recommended, Denver folks. Go see it before it leaves in August!
I’m 99% sure this is the same Maya exhibit created by the Science Museum of MN in conjunction with other institutions which is currently on its National Tour. This exhibit is the best.
The Folsom Point was crafted from flint some 10,000 years ago. Discovered in the 1920s on a joint expedition by this Museum and the Denver Museum of Natural History, this spear point is among the most important archaeological finds ever made on this continent.
The discovery of the Folsom Point, which was found embedded in a bison that has been extinct for 10,000 years, provided evidence that humans arrived in North America much earlier than scientists previously thought.
- American Museum of Natural Hustory
Angkor is one of the most important and the greatest archaeological sites in the world. This by the way the world’s largest (400 square kilometers) temple complex (almost a 1000 temples) was between IX and XV century the capital of the Khmer Empire. Probably, in the eleventh century, numbering one million inhabitants of Angkor was the largest city in the contemporary world.
I could cry it’s so perfect.
Mesopotamia’s rich cultural history is a blessing and a curse as extremist groups make their way into the lucrative global antiquities market.
Listen to the latest archaeological headlines in this week’s audio news podcast from archaeologica! Headlines this week include:
- Maya council house excavated in Guatemala
- Warrior grave dates to time of Caesar’s Gallic Wars
- Roman temple excavated in Northwest England
- Ketchup, beer and a radio—Saturday night at a POW camp?
Check out the full podcast here.
Caral, Peru. The Norte Chico people constructed a complex of pyramids, temples and geoglyphs here between the 27th and 20th centuries B.C.E., contemporaneously with the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt.
Last week, two colleagues and I visited a collector that I met on a plane on the way to Sante Fe, NM for the Paleoamerican Odyssey conference. The collector had genuine concerns for what would become of his collection upon his death. He knew that he had some Paleoindian artifacts from a site that, while previously recorded, had not been recognized as having a Paleoindian component. Upon analyzing the collection, it became clear to my colleagues and I that this collection represented a significant prehistoric (and historic) archaeological site.
The collection consisted of well over 500 diagnostic projectile points, and came entirely from a single field in Western Pennsylvania. All of the artifacts from this field were acquired through avocational pedestrian survey (NO SUBSURFACE DIGGING). The collector was very open to us studying, analyzing, and writing up any data we could gather from his collection. While he has a considerable bit of cultural heritage boxed up in his home, I consider him a “good guy” who only has enrichment and learning in mind. We will visit him again to continue studying the collection.