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Medieval Skeleton Found With Possible Arm Prosthesis

Friday, April 13, 2018

Italy amputation prosthesisROME, ITALY—Science Alert reports that the remains of a man whose partially amputated right arm appears to have been replaced with a knife has been found in a Lombard necropolis in northern Italy. Archaeologist Ileana Micarelli of Sapienza University said the man died between the ages of 40 and 50 sometime during the sixth to eighth centuries A.D. He had been placed in the grave with his right arm bent at the elbow and laid across his torso. A knife blade, a D-shaped buckle, and decomposed organic material—probably leather—were found aligned with the arm. Micarelli said the man’s hand may have been amputated after an injury from a fall or combat. He survived, and the ends of the arm bones had formed a callus and a bone spur on the ulna, perhaps from wearing a prosthesis. Micarelli also noted that the teeth on the man’s right side were very worn, possibly from using them to tighten straps that held a prosthesis in place. A ridge of bone on his shoulder may have also been caused by frequent tightening movements. For more on archaeology in Italy, go to “Rome’s Oldest Aqueduct.”

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