Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I'm not sure quite how I happened upon it, but I've uncovered a nugget of amputee history.

It seems the earliest historical reference to an artificial limb can be found in Herodotus' Histories, written in 484 BC.

Herodotus talks of a Persian soldier, Hegesistratus, who was shackled in the stocks and cut of part of his foot in order to escape> He walked with the aid of a prosthesis made out of wood.

Herodotus writes:

"Hegesistratus, I say, did a deed for which no words suffice.

"He had been set with one foot in the stocks, which were of wood but bound with iron bands; and in this condition received from without an iron implement, wherewith he contrived to accomplish the most courageous deed upon record.

"Calculating how much of his foot he would be able to draw through the hole, he cut off the front portion with his own hand....When his wound was healed, he procured himself a wooden foot, and became an open enemy to Sparta."
(Source: Herodotus Website)


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