Weaponized prosthetic limbs have long been imagined in works of science fiction, but a recent discovery indicates our ancestors might have gotten there first.
As Newsweek reported, archaeologists exploring the site of a mass grave in Italy believe they found a skeleton with a knife affixed as a prosthesis to his amputated arm.
The discovery was first reported in Archaeology Magazine as one of among hundreds of human remains, a number of greyhound dogs, and one headless horse buried in the Longobard cemetery.
A 6th-century Lombard warrior buried in northern Italy appears to have worn a knife as a prosthetic weapon in place of his forearm, which had been amputated https://t.co/TUaR8059Qt pic.twitter.com/aW26FGLQHr
— Archaeology Magazine (@archaeologymag) August 5, 2018
Though little is known about the specific warrior, experts believe he was a Lombard who lost his right forearm through what was most likely blunt force trauma.
They also say he died about 1,500 years ago near the period that the Germanic Lombard people controlled much of this region of Italy.
Experts believe he was between 40 and 50 years old when he died.
According to evidence collected at the site, a crudely implemented sword seems to have been buckled to his arm just above the amputation.
As part of their investigation, analysts cited evidence of physical damage that would be consistent with using such a prosthetic.
“The stump was positioned across his chest and researchers identified a callus and bone spurs consistent with pressure from a prosthetic device,” Archaeology Today’s Marley Brown wrote.
His teeth also showed signs of wear that could have been caused by tightening the strap around his arm.
The magazine noted that it is unclear how or why the man’s arm was amputated.
Among the likeliest scenarios was a medical issue, a serious bone break or, given his assumed status as a warrior, an injury sustained in battle.
“The strength of his relationship with the community is at the heart of the surgical intervention’s success,” said Ileana Micarelli of Rome’s Sapienza University. “And in my opinion, social relations are as important as the level of medical technology.”
The Italian scholar went on to say that she thinks it is possible the warrior was involved in the Lombards’ sixth-century siege of Italy.
For just over two centuries beginning with an invasion in 568, the Lombards ruled a large portion of the Italian peninsula.
The Longobard cemetery, where this warrior’s skeleton was found, is located in northeastern Italy near Verona.
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