An ancient skeleton discovered with prosthetic eyes was found 15 years ago

Believe it or not, prosthetic eyes have existed for thousands of years. In addition to improving the appearance of patients in need of prostheses, prostheses also prevent overgrowth of tissues in the eye sockets and prevent foreign debris from entering the eye without the need for an eye patch or bandage.
While prosthetics may seem like a more recent medical development, they actually have one of the oldest roots in the history of medicine.


For example, the world’s oldest prosthetic eye was discovered in the “City of Burnt” in Iran in 2006. Archaeologists determined that the eye dates from around 2900-2800 BC and was found. found still located in the eye sockets of the female skull.

The discovery of this eye reveals the ancient history of prostheses including eyes, legs and arms. The detailed dexterity of the eye also reveals early ideas about light, vision, and the purpose of prostheses. By analyzing the structure, location and purpose of the ancient prosthesis, we can further deduce about the city of Burnt and how it has shaped medical progress over time.
The Burned City of Iran and the Oldest Fake Eye Ever


Shahr-e Sukhteh is the archaeological site of an ancient Bronze Age urban settlement in what is now southeastern Iran. The site is known as the “Burning City” because much of the city was consumed by fires starting around 3200 BC. Due to the age of artefacts discovered at the site, archaeologists believe the city was abandoned around 2350 BC, although it is unclear if fire was the ultimate reason. make the city suddenly deserted or not.


Numerous excavations have been carried out in Burnt City since 1997. Famous discoveries from the site include an ancient dice board game, a skull exhibiting ancient brain surgery, a marble mug and a decorative piece of leather from the Bronze Age.
The most exciting discovery, however, was the world’s oldest known prosthetic eye in 2006. The eye was found in the remains of a woman estimated to be 6 feet tall and physical evidence from a cadaver eye. received it was worn throughout her life. than was inserted after her death. They estimated that the woman was between 25 and 30 years old at the time of her death.

The archaeologists who discovered the prosthetic eye say that the prosthetic eye is made from a mixture of natural asphalt and animal fat, which is able to retain moisture and is durable during use 4,800 years ago. Eye researchers are mesmerized by the ingenuity to detail. The eye has individual capillaries drawn with gold wire less than half a millimeter thick.
A circular pupil is etched into the front with parallel lines drawn around it to form a diamond-shaped pupil. Two gold wire holes were found on either side of the artificial eyeball, illustrating how the eye would be inside its socket. This soft gold wire will make the insertion gentle while still providing the support needed to keep the eye from falling out. They will also help the eye move smoothly within the eye socket.

Ophthalmologists deduce that it was worn while the woman was still alive because preserved eyelid tissue had gotten stuck in the eye. They also found evidence from this and surrounding tissue on the woman’s skull that she may have developed an abscess on her eyelid from rubbing against the artificial eye while blinking.
Archaeologists have found many clay pots, decorative beads and jewelry in the tombs of ancient women. They also found a leather case and a bronze mirror, both in excellent condition. These discoveries lead archaeologists to believe that this woman had a high social status and was probably a member of the royal family.

Only individuals of considerable social standing possessed such ornate jewelry, clay, leather, and bronze. This also supports the reason she has a prosthetic eye. If she were in a position of power or high rank, she would need an eye to maintain her appearance and would be one of the few people with the necessary financial resources to correct a human eye. create her suit. To glass, to acrylic

The details in the craft of the prosthetic eye discovered show that its creator had a remarkable understanding of eye anatomy. From the thin layer of gold representing the iris to the tiniest blood vessels illustrated by the gold wire, the eye is elegantly designed yet precise for the wearer. In addition to these details, some white is found on the white part of the eye, which indicates that the eye was once delicately drawn to realistically illustrate the eye.

Other details about the eye led archaeologists to conclude that the eye was handcrafted in the city of Burnt, rather than made elsewhere and imported. This tells us that at some point in the history of the City of Burnt, eye health was studied by medical and craft professionals.

The development of the artificial eye in other areas is somewhat different from the one discovered in the city of Burnt. In 16th century France, surgeons made artificial eyes out of gold and silver to wear in front or behind the eyelids.

Shakespeare mentioned King Lear’s glass eyes in 1606. In the 1800s, enameled prosthetic eyes were attractive but not durable, and advancements continue to this day, artificial eyes, made of hard acrylic, a durable plastic material.

Prosthetics have certainly come a long way since the days of the asphalt and tallow eyes found in the Burning City. Still, analyzing that eye still reveals an impressively ancient understanding of eye anatomy, which is fascinating when thinking about ancient Iran. As medical knowledge advances, perhaps one day we may see more durable and effective prosthetics for those who need them.

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