A Magical Healing Device?
The man whose right foot had been injured was likely in great pain when alive.
He "showed signs of multiple antemortem [before his death] fractures, including of several ribs, the left radius, right ulna, right foot (on which the toe ring was found) and right femur," Stevens wrote. "The fracture of the right femur healed at an angle and must have caused this individual considerable ongoing pain."
The ring was placed on the toe of the injured foot, suggesting perhaps it was intended as a magical healing device of sorts.
"The act of 'binding' or 'encircling' was a powerful magical device in ancient Egypt, and a metal ring, which can be looped around something, lends itself well to this kind of action," Stevens said. "This is a possibility that we will look into further, checking through sources such as the corpus of magico-medical spells that have survived from ancient Egypt, to look for parallels."
However, the skeleton of the second individual with the toe ring, found in 2012, bore no visible signs of a medical condition. Stevens notes that this individual has yet to be studied in depth by bio-archaeologists and its sex is unknown.