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Bow frame amputation saw, Spain, 1601-1700

The level of decoration on this saw is not unusual for the period. The ornate handle was inlaid with gold, a technique called ‘damascene’. Some surgeons asked for such decorative features to be removed as they could get caught up in tissues and skin during surgery. This resulted in more pain for patients whose only relief was alcohol and some herbal concoctions. These decorative features also provided a good environment in which germs could thrive.

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Glossary: amputation saw

Saw used for amputation. These tend to be instruments from the past, and were in common usage from c. 1500-1940 in Europe.

Glossary: amputation

Removal of part of, or a whole limb by surgery. Used to control pain or the spread of disease in the affected limb.