A 3000-year-old mummy was recently discovered sporting a prosthetic big toe. The wooden toe had been meticulously fit to the woman’s foot, with attachment straps designed for comfort. The craftsmanship was extraordinary; the toe could even flex. The toe is one of the oldest examples, but from pirates’ peg legs to Tycho Brahe’s metal nose, replacement body parts have a long and inventive history.
Even before the toe’s discovery, prosthetics were known to be ancient technology. Replacement body parts are mentioned prominently in the classical literature of multiple cultures. The mythical Greek hero Pelops, accidentally ingested by the Gods, sported an ivory shoulder after his reconstruction. Herodotus mentions warriors with wooden feet, and there are examples from Asia and Rome as well.