A prosthetic leg unearthed in an ancient tomb in the suburban area of Turpan in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has been confirmed as the earliest prosthetic limb in human history, Guangming Daily reports.
Archeologists claim that the artificial leg dates back some 2,300 years, a few hundred years older than the Capua prosthetics, an ancient Roman invention widely recognized as the earliest recorded prosthetic limbs.
The artificial leg in Turpan was primarily a wooden structure of 90.2 millimeters in height. The upper half and the lower half both have a line of holes, and the middle has a polished chunk of wood that functions as a joint. The artificial joint was fastened in place by leather strings, which went through the holes, to make it relatively adjustable.
The Turpan area has long been known for its woodwork. Ancient residents mastered many arts that are still used today. Drilling, polishing, carving and many other carpentry techniques assisted in the production of the leg.
The leg was unearthed alongside other wooden tools and their master's skeleton in a group of 31 tombs. The master's skeleton clearly shows that his right leg had been amputated and that his thigh bones were deformed.
The site of the discovery sits some 40 kilometers from the city of Turpan. Research and digs began in October 2007.