An ancient Egyptian mummy attributed to the priest Usermontu has been found to have implanted with a sophisticated nine-inch knee-screw, to help fuse his left knee joint. The medical implant was discovered on x-rays taken by a research team at Brigham Young University. Professor of Ancient Studies, C. Wilfred Griggs, initially assumed the device was simply added to the mummy in modern times, to help hold the body together. "I assumed at the time that the pin was modern. I thought we might be able to determine how the pin had been inserted into the leg, and perhaps even guess how recently it had been implanted into the bones. I just thought it would be an interesting footnote to say, ‘Somebody got an ancient mummy and put a modern pin in it to hold the leg together.’"
Further analysis of the find yielded a different story: that the procedure had indeed been carried out in 600 BCE, using an iron screw-pin, along with a compound similar to modern bone cement. The design of the pin amazed orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard T. Jackson, regarding the similarities between the ancient device and more contemporary ones: "We are amazed at the ability to create a pin with biomechanical principles that we still use today—rigid fixation of the bone, for example. It is beyond anything we anticipated for that time."
While further analysis confirmed that the implant was installed after the death of the mummified individual, the advanced design of the pin, and the surgical care taken to insert it, speaks toward the Ancient Egyptian’s belief in the body’s role after the individual is resurrected. "How fascinating that the technician took such considerable thought constructing the pin," professor Griggs says. "The technician could have just simply wired the leg together and assumed that in the resurrection it would knit back together."
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