I recently came across an interesting article on cosmosmagazine.com. It's about the history of prosthetic limbs--which had already started in ancient Hellas. Let me share the highlights with you and the send you over to the article itself if you'd like to read more.

False toe on mummy found near Luxor. Egyptian Museum.

"Warfare was not kind to the bodies of soldiers in Ancient Greece and Rome. It has been estimated that in Ancient Greece, about 80% of seriously wounded soldiers died on the day of battle. Of the remaining 20%, a third died of their injuries after returning home. It is not easy to make direct comparisons with modern times, but these figures are certainly likely to be much higher.

Whether survivors in the ancient era were injured in battle by a blade, spear or missile, or in camp by frostbite or trench foot, their arms, legs and extremities were incredibly vulnerable. In Ancient Greece, they benefited from simple surgical amputations as far back as the late fifth or early fourth century BC. The Hippocratic treatise On Joints attests to rudimentary amputations of fingers, toes, hands and feet, but cautions against amputating an entire arm or leg.

Around the same time, orthopaedic surgery had refined to the point that prostheses were starting to become available as alternatives to staffs, sticks and crutches. We see this in the account of the Graeco-Persian War (499-449BC) by the historian Herodotus, for instance. Herodotus recounts how the Persian diviner Hegesistratus, when imprisoned by the Spartans, amputated part of his own foot to escape his shackles, then procured a wooden replacement.

Egypt was using similar technology around the same period. Prosthetic toes made from wood or layers of fibre known as cartonnage have been recovered from burial sites, such as the one from a mummy near Luxor pictured below. They show signs of wear and tear, indicating that they were functional rather than purely cosmetic.

Considering the ancient association of disabled people with crafts such as metalwork – epitomised by the Greek god Hephaistos and his Roman counterpart Vulcan – artisans may even have drawn on their own experiences of impairment to inspire their creations."