Ancient Artificial Eye

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Around the time that the great pyramids were built in Egypt and Stonehenge was erected in England, a young woman living in what is now Iran lost an eye and was fitted with a prosthetic device.

The 4,800-year-old artificial eye was recently found by archaeologists working at the Burnt City historical site in southeastern Iran, according to a report published by the Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies, a London-based research and educational program.

The find supports speculation that such prosthetics were available to a fortunate few in the ancient world. An early Hebrew text, for example, references a woman who wore an artificial eye made of gold.

The newly found eye isn’t gold, but it probably looked more like the real thing. “At first glance, it seems natural tar mixed with animal fat has been used in making [the eye],” said archaeologist Mansur Sayyed-Sajadi, who is directing the excavation. Further testing will be needed to determine its exact composition.

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