Amazing Things We’ve Learned From 800 Ancient Skull Surgeries
The practice of trepanation was surprisingly successful and was seen more often during the Inca heyday due to the weapons used in war.
Some 2,000 years ago, a Peruvian surgeon picked up a simple tool and began to scrape a hole in the skull of a living human being. Before the surgery was over, much of the patient’s fractured upper skull had been removed without the aid of modern anesthesia or sterile techniques.
The patient, almost incredibly, survived.
The ghoulish operation is only one example of trepanation, an ancient medical practice that has been freshly examined in Holes in the Head: The Art and Archaeology of Trepanation in Ancient Peru, a new book by physical anthropologist John Verano of Tulane University and five collaborators.
Thousands of years ago, surgeons trepanned patients in early Europe and the South Pacific, and trepanation was still being practiced