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This chapter surveys the evidence for the design, commission, and manufacture of prostheses and assistive technology in classical antiquity. It argues that rather than being considered therapeutic and thus the responsibility of a medical practitioner, as is the case today, acquiring a prosthesis or other type of assistive technology was the responsibility of the user, and it was up to them to enlist the services of one or more artisans in order to do so. Consequently, ancient assistive technology was highly individualised and personalised, and was used to make statements about the individual in question's wealth, status, and sophistication. It covers artisans, inspirations, materials, and meanings.
This chapter introduces the subject of prostheses, prosthesis use, and prosthesis users in classical antiquity. It compares contemporary, historical, and ancient historical prostheses and indentifies certain types of continuity across millennia. It undertakes a literature review of the current state of scholarship on impairment and disability in classical antiquity, highlighting how little attention has been paid to assistive technology by scholars to date. It explains the methodology that will be used in this monograph. It provides an overview of the different types of evidence that will be used (i.e. literary, documentary, archaeological, bioarchaeological). It outlines the contents of the monograph, chapter by chapter.
This chapter surveys the evidence for the use of people and animals as substitutes for prostheses and assistive technology by individuals with a variety of impairments and disabilities. It considers the role that enslavement played in the lives of the impaired and disabled in antiquity, and how the presence of enslaved individuals may have affected the development and adoption of assistive technology, noting that this is a key difference in ancient and contemporary assistive technology usage.
This chapter concludes the monograph, emphasising how important the study of ancient assistive technology such as prostheses and aids is for achieving a fuller understanding of the lived experiences of the impaired and disabled in antiquity, and considering how much the objects themselves can tell us about their users. It reiterates that the assistive technology that has survived from antiquity has done so because the objects were included in the tombs and graves of their users, which indicates that they were viewed as part of the individual's body rather than separate from it.
This chapter surveys the evidence for extremity prostheses and assistive technology (walking sticks, canes, crutches, corrective footwear) in classical antiquity. It discusses the different ways in which an extremity such as an arm or leg might be lost (surgical intervention, military activity, judicial and extra-judicial punishment, self-mutilation or deliberate mutilation), and how individuals dealt with their resulting impairments and disabilities. Not everyone could utilise a prosthesis due to the nature of their impairment; they might need to, or indeed choose to, use another type of assistive technology, such as a crutch.
This chapter surveys the evidence for prosthetic hair (wigs and hair pieces) in classical antiquity. It discusses the different ways in which hair might be lost (natural ageing process, ill health, voluntary and involuntary body modification), and how individuals dealt with their resulting impairments and disabilities. It concludes that prosthetic hair is the most widely attested and evidenced type of ancient prosthesis, in both the ancient literature and the archaeological record.
This chapter surveys the evidence for facial prostheses (eyes, noses, teeth) in classical antiquity. It discusses the different ways in which a facial feature might be lost (surgical intervention, military activity, judicial and extra-judicial punishment, self-mutilation or deliberate mutilation), and how individuals dealt with their resulting impairments and disabilities, as missing facial features were difficult, if not impossible, to disguise. It concludes that the evidence for prosthetic eyes and noses is relatively sparse, but that for prosthetic teeth is much more plentiful, both in ancient literature and in the archaeological record.
This is the first comprehensive study of prosthetics and assistive technology in classical antiquity, integrating literary, documentary, archaeological, and bioarchaeological evidence to provide as full a picture as possible of their importance for the lived experience of people with disabilities in classical antiquity. The volume is not only a work of disability history, but also one of medical, scientific, and technological history, and so will be of interest to members of multiple academic disciplines across multiple historical periods. The chapters cover extremity prostheses, facial prostheses, prosthetic hair, the design, commission and manufacture of prostheses and assistive technology, and the role of care-givers in the lives of ancient people with impairments and disabilities. Lavishly illustrated, the study further contains informative tables that collate the aforementioned different types of evidence in an easily accessible way.