A Prosthetic Knife Was Found on a Medieval Warrior’s Amputated Hand

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

In Northern Italy, archaeologists have found something very interesting. The skeleton of this Italian warrior from the Middle Ages was found in a Longobard cemetery. It is from as far back as the sixth century.

And this man from Lombardy seems to have used a cap, buckle, and leather straps to attach a fake knife to the stump of his missing hand long before Captain Hook.

The finding, which was published in the Journal of Anthropological Sciences, shows that he not only survived a major amputation but also was able to replace the missing limb with a bladed weapon.

Based on the shape of the skull and pelvis, researchers were able to figure out that the skeleton belonged to a man between the ages of 40 and 50.

The stump of his right arm, which had been cut off at the middle of the forearm, was lying across his chest. Researchers found that blunt force trauma was what took the handoff. A knife blade and a belt buckle were also found on him.

The researchers from Sapienza University in Rome, led by archaeologist Ileana Micarelli, wrote, “One possibility is that the limb was amputated for medical reasons; perhaps the forelimb was broken due to an accidental fall or some other means, resulting in an unhealable fracture.” But they also said, “Still, given the warrior-specific culture of the Longobard people, a loss due to fighting is also possible.”

At the Longobard necropolis, where hundreds of skeletons and a horse with no head were buried, archaeologists have found more than 160 tombs. But this one stood out because it was different. While everyone else had knives in their hands or weapons at their sides, this man had a callus and bone spurs, which were signs of biomechanical pressure. The pressure was about the same as what is usually put on a prosthetic device.

They also noticed that his teeth were very worn, which suggests that he used them often to tighten the device’s straps. Or, as the researchers put it, “points to dental use in attaching the prosthesis to the limb.” A closer look showed that the man’s shoulder had a ridge of bone in the shape of a C, which means he held his arm in an unnatural way to tighten the prosthesis with his mouth.

Further CT scans showed bone loss on the outside, which is common when a prosthesis is present.

Micarelli and her team said that the find is a “remarkable” example of a person who lost a limb and still lived, before antibiotics and other ways to keep things clean. It shows that doctors and nurses at the time were able to keep the area clean and knew how to stop people from losing blood.

The researchers also say that the case shows a place that offered both intensive care and support at the community level.

The strength of his relationship with the community is at the heart of the surgical intervention’s success,” Micarelli said. “And in my opinion, social relations are as important as the level of medical technology.”

What an amazing discovery!  I believe Indiana Jones would be very impressed.

 

Featured Image screengrab from embedded Tweet.

 

 

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