Ancient Peruvians Practiced Brain Surgery

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Picture: Danielle Kurin, UCSB (C(

Some of you may be waking up with a terrible hangover today. If so, the sensation of someone drilling a hole in your skull without anesthesia may not be too hard to imagine.

…Evidence shows that healers in Peru practiced trepanation — a surgical procedure that involves removing a section of the cranial vault using a hand drill or a scraping tool — more than 1,000 years ago to treat a variety of ailments, from head injuries to heartsickness. And they did so without the benefit of the aforementioned medical advances.

Excavating burial caves in the south-central Andean province of Andahuaylas in Peru, UC Santa Barbara bioarchaeologist Danielle Kurin and her research team unearthed the remains of 32 individuals that date back to the Late Intermediate Period (ca. AD 1000-1250). Among them, 45 separate trepanation procedures were in evidence. Kurin’s findings appear in the current issue of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Read the rest of the story at Science Daily.

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