Prostheses in Antiquity: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Prostheses in Antiquity

1st Edition

Edited by Jane Draycott


214 pages | 80 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-09-10
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Today, a prosthesis is an artificial device that replaces a missing body part, generally designed and assembled according to the individual’s appearance and functional needs with a view to being both as unobtrusive and as useful as possible. In classical antiquity, however, this was not necessarily the case. The ancient literary and documentary evidence for prostheses and prosthesis use is contradictory, and the bioarchaeological and archaeological evidence is enigmatic, but discretion and utility were not necessarily priorities. So, when, howand why did individuals utilise them? This volume, the first to explore prostheses and prosthesis use in classical antiquity, seeks to answer these questions, and will be of interest to academics and students with specialistinterests in classical archaeology, ancient history and history, especially those engaged in studies of healing, medical and surgical practices, or impairment and disability in past societies.


"This book, with its diachronic examples, will undoubtedly serve as a useful resource for scholars with a special interest in the social role(s) of ancient prostheses, as well as those who study broader issues concerning disability studies, bioarchaeology, fragmentation, personhood and identity. Furthermore, the case studies presented here will contribute substantially to our understanding of prostheses and their usage in the ancient Mediterranean." - The Classical Journal

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

List of Contributors


Jane Draycott

Chapter 1: The Complex Aspects of Experimental Archaeology: The Design of Working Models of Two Ancient Egyptian Great Toe Prostheses

Jacky Finch

Chapter 2: A Very Distinctive Smile: Etruscan Dental Appliances

Jean Mackintosh Turfa and Marshall Becker

Chapter 3: Prosthetic Hair in Ancient Rome

Jane Draycott

Chapter 4: ‘An Amputee May Go Out with his Wooden Aid on Shabbat’: Dynamics of Prosthetic Discourse in Talmudic Traditions

Lennart Lehmhaus

Chapter 5: Evidence of a Late Antique Amputation in a Skeleton from Hemmaberg

Josef Eitler and Michaela Binder

Chapter 6: Living Prostheses

Katherine van Schaik

Chapter 7: ‘Prosthetic Imagination’ in Greek Literature

Anne-Sophie Noel

Chapter 8: The Psychology of Prostheses: Substitution Strategies and Notions of Normality

Ellen Adams


About the Editor

Jane Draycott is Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow in Ancient Science and Technology at the University of Glasgow, UK. Previously she was Lecturer in Classics at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Associate Teacher in Roman Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, all in the UK, and 2011–12 Rome Fellow at the British School at Rome, Italy.

About the Series

Medicine and the Body in Antiquity

Medicine and the Body in Antiquity is a series which fosters interdisciplinary research that broadens our understanding of past beliefs about the body and its care. The intention of the series is to use evidence drawn from diverse sources (textual, archaeological, epigraphic) in an interpretative manner to gain insights into the medical practices and beliefs of the ancient Mediterranean. The series approaches medical history from a broad thematic perspective that allows for collaboration between specialists from a wide range of disciplines outside ancient history and archaeology such as art history, religious studies, medicine, the natural sciences and music. The series will also aim to bring research on ancient medicine to the attention of scholars concerned with later periods. Ultimately this series provides a forum for scholars from a wide range of disciplines to explore ideas about the body and medicine beyond the confines of current scholarship.

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Dr Patty Baker at 

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General
MEDICAL / History