So You Wanna Buy a Fake Leg?


An ancient prosthesis found in China is an old reminder of just how far things have come in the technology for fake body parts.  Excavations of an ancient tomb near Turpan, China, have uncovered the 2,200-year-old remains of a man buried with a hoof-tipped prosthetic limb. In a paper recently published in the Journal of Chinese Archeology, researchers wrote that the man’s natural leg had become deformed so that the bones were fused together at an angle of 80 degrees and could not be straightened. The unusual poplar wood prosthesis allowed the wearer to walk and, perhaps, even ride a horse. The discovery offers a rare glimpse into the technology of prosthesis in the ancient world. The lack of antibiotics in the pre-modern world meant that numerous infections and accidents resulted in amputation. While as many people died during treatment as did from their initial injury, this meant that many people lived their lives absent a hand, leg, or foot.

For the wealthy, there were prosthetic options. The Roman historian Pliny tells us that the hero M. Sergius Silus lost his right hand in battle and replaced it with an iron hand before proceeding with his glittering military career. And at least one example of an elaborate bronze prosthetic leg—known as the Capua leg—has survived from antiquity. But for the majority of people, the only options were peg-legs and crutches. Even the wheelchair is associated with the wealthy: the first recorded example was constructed for Philip II of Spain.

One of the wealthiest men in the American colonies, ……………….

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