Evidence of 4,500-Year-Old Skull Surgery Found in Spain

Spain Cranial LesionVALLADOLID, SPAIN—According to a Live Science report, analysis of a woman’s skull recovered from a Copper Age burial site in southeastern Spain known as Camino del Molino suggests that she had survived two skull surgeries. Scientists led by Sonia Díaz-Navarro of the University of Valladolid estimate that the woman was between 35 and 45 years old at the time of her death some 4,500 years ago. Two overlapping holes with evidence of healing were detected on her skull, between her temple and the top of her ear. The first hole measured about two inches wide and about one inch long, while the second was about half that size. Each of the wounds had been scraped into the bone and had well-defined edges, Díaz-Navarro said. “To perform this surgery, the affected individual likely had to be strongly immobilized by other members of the community or previously treated with a psychoactive substance that would alleviate pain or render them unconscious,” she added. The amount of healing observed suggests that the woman lived for several months after the second surgery. Many of the other remains uncovered at Camino del Molina bear traumatic injuries, so this woman may have received surgery as a result of trauma, perhaps to remove damaged bone fragments from her head, Díaz-Navarro concluded. To read about the earliest known ear surgery performed around 5,300 years ago, go to “Around the World: Spain.”

Source: archaeology.org

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