CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGIES AND MEANINGS OF UPPER LIMB PROSTHETICS: PART I - FROM ANCIENT EGYPT TO EARLY MODERN EUROPE
This paper is the first-of-a-three-part series that examines changes in technologies and meanings of upper limb prosthetics from ancient Egypt to the present. Contemporary design of powered upper-limbs shares a number of continuities with older methods of limb making. Both cosmetic and functional prostheses have been in production for at least the last 3,000 years. Wars have long been a spur to technological innovation in artificial limbs. Prostheses making has sought to return soldier-amputees to combat, whether on horseback or in tanks. Technological innovation in other fields has provided materials for improvement in artificial limbs, such as the replacement of wood by iron, iron by steel, or plastic by composites. Since the early modern period, the development of new artificial limbs has been mistaken as a specialty of medical doctors. The making of artificial limbs has since at least Ancient Egypt been as much about technological innovation as the creation of new meanings of prostheses, whether the design of arms for the underworld of the Duat or hands as industrial tools.