The researcher created two reproductions modelled as the Greville toe and the Tabaketenmut digit, along with replicas of leather ancient Egyptian-style sandals.
Each volunteer was asked to walk on a 10-meter walkway barefoot, in their own shoes and wearing the toes with and without sandals.
Finch filmed the volunteers' walking gait using 10 video cameras, while the pressure of their footsteps was measured using a special mat. The 10 best walking trials were recorded for each foot, using their normal left foot as the control.
The camera footage revealed that when wearing the sandals with the cartonnage replica, one of the volunteers achieved 87 percent of the flexion achieved by their normal left toe. The three-part wood and leather design producing nearly 78 percent.
"Interestingly, the ability to push off using the prosthetic toe was not as good when this volunteer wasn't wearing the sandals," the researcher wrote.
The second volunteer didn't perform as well, but was still able to produce between 60-63 percent flexion wearing the replicas with or without the sandals.
According to the pressure measurements, there were no overly high pressure points in both volunteers, indicating that the false toes were comfortable and not causing any tissue damage.
When the volunteers wore just the replica sandals without the toe prosthesis, significant differences in peak pressures were recorded. This indicated that "it would have been very difficult for an ancient Egyptian missing a big toe to walk normally wearing traditional sandals," Finch said.
"They could have remained barefoot or perhaps have worn some sort of sock or boot over the false toe, but our research suggests that wearing these false toes made walking in a sandal more comfortable," she added.
The volunteers were also asked fill in a questionnaire about how they felt when doing the tests in the gait laboratory.
Despite having performed well, the Greville Chester cartonnage replica wasn't comfortable. On the contrary, both volunteers found Tabaketenmut's three-part wooden and leather toe extremely comfortable.
The performance and perceived comfort of this replacement means that "nascent prosthetic science may have been emerging in the Nile Valley as early as 950 to 710 B.C.," Finch and colleague Ann Rosalie David, professor of biomedical Egyptologyat the University of Manchester, wrote.
The three-part example pre-dates by some 400 years what is currently thought to be the oldest, although untested, prosthetic device. This is a Roman leg made out of bronze and wood in around 300 B.C, known as the Capua leg.
The leg was destroyed by Second World War bombings and only a replica now remains.
Photo: The Tabaketenmut toe kept at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Credit: University of Manchester.
– Scientific tests using replicas of the ancient Egyptian artificial toes. Credit: University of Manchester.