By Anupum Pant
With specialized equipment and several other complications, we think we’ve come far with brain surgery. Today, brain surgery is supposed to be a modern advancement that enables us to treat obscure anomalies associated with the human brain. Of course we’ve advanced a lot, but there is no way we can reject the advancements in brain surgery attained during ancient times – Ancient brain surgery.
Trepanation: About 1000 years ago, ancient surgeons were already drilling through the human skulls; exposing the brain. Early Peru doctors were practicing a process called trepanation to treat a variety of brain related ailments.
Just a few days back, a research team led by UC Santa Barbara’s bioarchaeologist Danielle Kurin, excavated 32 skulls which illustrated that some sort of brain surgery was done on these Peruvian individuals back then. According to them, the skulls unearthed, had been drilled to treat swollen brains, or of a neurological, spiritual or psychosomatic illnesses.
Around 1000 years ago, when a Peruvian empire was collapsing, on various skull, drilling and cutting methods were being employed to deal with challenges like violence, disease and depravation. This trend is seen as somewhat similar to how IED’s are driving exploration of prosthetic technology in the military now. Exactly as guessed, not all of these ancient brain surgery procedures were successful, some of them did fail. But that is not the point.
According to Daniel Kurin talking about one of these 32 unearthed skull samples:
In one example, each hole is drilled a little deeper than the last. So you can imagine a guy in his prehistoric Peruvian medical school practicing with his hand drill to know how many times he needs to turn it to nimbly and accurately penetrate the thickness of a skull.
As noted by the lead researcher, a great amount of skill and practice was involved in these procedures. It is incredible to note that surgeons back then were using modern medical educational practices – using dead bodies to study physical sicknesses.
It wasn’t torture
Finally, if you’d argue that it could be a way to torture prisoners, scientists have something to disprove that theory too. What they were doing was not a way to torture people. They’ve found solid proofs that the skulls of individuals that were being drilled, were actually sick and were being operated upon by using proper operating procedures – like shaving hair before operating.