A mummy dubbed "Toe-tankhamun" by a Manchester
University team may have walked like an Egyptian
using the earliest example of a working false body part.
Scientists believe the wood and leather big toe attached to the
Egyptian mummy's right foot was more than just for show.
If proven to be functional, it would predate the earliest known
prosthesis - an artificial leg from 300 BC - by several hundred
The Roman Capua Leg, made of bronze, was held at the Royal
College of Surgeons in London but was destroyed by Luftwaffe bombs
during the Second World War.
The Manchester researchers plan to subject the ancient
artificial digit to a series of tests, using up to four volunteers
with missing big toes.
They will be asked to put the toe through its paces by wearing
an exact replica of the artefact housed at the Cairo Museum.
A model of a second false Egyptian big toe which is on display at the
British Museum, with no mummy attached, will also be worn by the
This artefact, from between 1295 and 664 BC, is made from
cartonnage, a kind of papier-mâché made from linen, glue and
Like the Cairo toe, this too shows signs of wear, suggesting
that it was worn by its owner in life and not simply attached to the
foot during mummification for religious or ritualistic reasons.
However, unlike the Cairo toe, it does not bend, suggesting it
may have been more cosmetic.