Jun 2006
When was the first case of amputation from a battle wound recorded? I guess I am asking when did humans start cutting off legs to avoid infection? I find it hard to believe people in ancient times would have been smart enough to do this.


Historum Emeritas
Aug 2006
The Greeks and Romans had aqueducts and sewers because they knew bad water made you sick. Europe didn't relearn that until the 1800's. I wouldn't doubt the ancients, there's a reason why the Renaissance was thought of as bringing back Classical Culture. Even the Celts, the barbarians, performed brain surgery on wounded men, removing bits of their skull so they would not die, and by examinations of their bones many lived.

The Romans and Greeks were far superior in science to their Celtic neighbors, they knew heating their tools would sterilize them and their patients would be less likely to get disease that way.

Amputation wasn't really used in ancient times, it came about due to musketballs and bullets hitting bone and shattering it, the ancients didn't have bullets except for slingstones, plus they used shields, so they didn't really need it.


Historum Emeritas
Jun 2006
Well I think as well, that a limb that had been hacked by a sword and not cut all the way through would have been removed, or if cut severly and gangrene begins to take the arm they would have removed it. But just as Celtic said, medical amputation became necessary after the invention of bullets. The most common caliber was .69 during the American Revolution and on up to the Civil War. The bullets would be moving so slowly that when they entered, they just leave a big hole, unlike modern bullets that produce "clean" wounds that cauterizes as it enters closing any veins and prevents bleeding to death unless it hits a major organ.

Going further on the old style bullets. The large caliber was liked because it was so destructive. But again it moved slow. The main reason for amputation was if it hit a bone, it stopped and spintered it. Leaving it unable to heal, thus warranting amputation. A field surgeons kit during the Civil War was an assortment of knives and saws. Amputation was a quick and easy way to cure a wound to a limb and became the army standard for any such wound.