Amputation Knife ca. 1500s
The curved sickle shape of this amputation knife is known as ‘falciform’. Such early amputation knives tend to be curved in accordance with the prevailing technique of the time, which was to cut through the skin and muscle in a circle directly around the bone – which would then be sawn through.
From the early 1800s, amputation knives tend to be straight as this was a more suitable shape for the by then preferred flap technique – in which a flap of skin was retained so that it could then be folded over the limb stump. The ivory handle of this example is carved into a shape of a wolf’s head.
Bullet extractor, Europe, ca. 1500s
Although attempts had been made to remove bullet-like projectiles when firearms had been introduced into warfare as early as the 1200s, only those near the surface of the skin could be treated. Special instruments for removing bullets only came into use in the early 1500s as firearms became increasingly sophisticated.
Screw-type bullet extractors, like this one, have a hollow rod which contains a screw that can be lengthened or shortened by turning the handles. The instrument is placed in the wound and the screw lengthened to pierce the bullet to remove it.
A codpiece (from Middle English: cod, meaning “scrotum”) is a covering flap or pouch that attaches to the front of the crotch of men’s trousers and usually accentuates the genital area. It was held closed by string ties, buttons, or other methods.
It was an important item of European clothing in the 15th and 16th centuries, and is still worn in the modern era in performance costumes for rock music and metal musicians and in the leather subculture.
Balboa setting his war dogs upon Indian practitioners of male love in 1513; New York Public Library
Among indigenous peoples of the Americas prior to European colonization, a common form of same-sex sexuality centered around the figure of the Two-Spirit individual. Typically this individual was recognized early in life, given a choice by the parents to follow the path and, if the child accepted the role, raised in the appropriate manner, learning the customs of the gender it had chosen. Two-Spirit individuals were commonly shamans and were revered as having powers beyond those of ordinary shamans. Their sexual life was with the ordinary tribe members of the same sex.
Homosexual and transgender individuals were also common among other pre-conquest civilizations in Latin America, such as the Aztecs, Mayans, Quechuas, Moches, Zapotecs, and the Tupinambá of Brazil.
The Spanish conquerors were horrified to discover sodomy openly practiced among native peoples, and attempted to crush it out by subjecting the berdaches (as the Spanish called them) under their rule to severe penalties, including public execution, burning and being torn to pieces by dogs.