Skip to comments.Incan Skull Surgery
Posted on 04/26/2008 7:32:58 PM PDT by blam
Incan skull surgery
By Bruce Bower
April 25th, 2008
Holes in ancient skulls reflect skilled medical care
Healing Hole in the Head
ANCIENT SURGERY A new analysis of ancient skulls reveals skills of Incan healers in cranial cutting.Valerie Andrushko
When Incan healers scraped or cut a hunk of bone out of a persons head, they meant business. Practitioners of this technique, known as trepanation, demonstrated great skill more than 500 years ago in treating warriors head wounds and possibly other medical problems, rarely causing infections or killing their patients, two anthropologists find.
Trepanation emerged as a promising but dangerous medical procedure by about 1,000 years ago in small communities near the eventual Inca heartland in Perus Andes mountains, say Valerie Andrushko of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and John Verano of Tulane University in New Orleans. Incan healers later mastered certain trepanation methods, performing them safely and frequently.
Far from the idea of savages drilling crude holes in skulls to release evil spirits, these ancient people were highly skilled as surgeons, Andrushko says.
The researchers new investigation, published online April 3, will appear in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
Prehistoric trepanation in this part of South America consisted of four techniques, the scientists say. Practitioners cut out squares of bone, bored holes in the skull, scraped away bone to create an opening or made circular incisions to remove a plug of bone. Inca surgeons specialized in the latter two methods. Excavations, however, have not yielded trepanation instruments.
In pre-Inca times, only one-third of skull surgery patients survived the procedure, as indicated by short- or long-term healing around cranial openings. Survival rates rose to between 80 and 90 percent during the Inca era, from A.D. 1400 to 1532. Few skulls showed signs of infection near surgical holes.
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencenews.org ...
***Far from the idea of savages drilling crude holes in skulls to release evil spirits, ***
I saw a documentary film at the theater in 1966 about this in Africa. Horrible!
But the post-op headaches were probably a bitch.
But ... was this healthcare free?
I’d also like to know what the life expectancy was then, too.
A holey Skull.
Yeah. I need trepanation like I need a hole in the head. Or something...
Uhh...maybe it wasn’t surgery but torture.
I wonder how they know for certain that the patients rarely died.
Probably from signs of bone healing.
I've seen the photos, read the stories decades ago - along with the description of their surgical instruments - the Aztecs performed the operation also, using instruments made from volcanic glass that held a super sharp edge.
Hippocrates also performed trepanning almost 2,500 years ago...
“There once was a tribe called the Incas,
“Who got to be known as big drincas.
“They worshipped the sun,
“And had lots of fun,
“But the peasants all thought they were stincas.”
The last paragraph makes the “just medicine” theory hard to believe. Look at the ratio of people who had this surgery. You’d think it would be rare if it was heal head wounds from battle... but the article says 16 to 36 percent contained these holes?!??!? That’s crazy
From 411 skulls unearthed by different teams at six Peruvian sites dating from A.D. 1000 to the end of the Incas reign, the researchers identified 66 cases of trepanation. At pre-Inca sites, 5 to 8 percent of skulls displayed surgical openings. At Inca sites, 16 to 36 percent of skulls contained one or more trepanation holes.
Yep, and they were really great at cutting out hearts too.
16% to 36% is a very high number for medical treatment, exceeeding the rate of serious but normal diseases and physical ailments in the population.
Leading me to the conclusion that they must have thought that trepanation was the cure for the commone cold.
“Now this will hurt a bit, but for God’s sake, don’t sneeze!”
I was gonna say the same thing, but I think it was the Mayans that did the "cut your heart out and hand it to you in a doggy bag" thing.
Aztecs did that. They also wore their victim’s skin.
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skull found in the River Thames, note brow ridges.
Well-preserved skull of Gadevang Man, a prehistoric 'bog body', dated 480-60 BC, found in Denmark. The skull shows signs of a surgical trephination procedure
Example from Ireland:
Leads me to believe there must have been a common cause. People wouldn't be cutting holes in their heads for no good reason...