Inside America’s oldest cranial surgery 3,000 years ago


The oldest cranial surgery in North America dates back a staggering 3,000 years, new research has revealed.

Analysis of a prehistoric man’s skull revealed a hole in his forehead, according to bioarchaeologist Diana Simpson of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The data suggest someone scraped the bone out of the skull when they suffered trauma around its oval opening, he reported science news.

In addition, bone regrowth was noted around the skull opening, indicating the man lived for up to a year after the procedure.

Simpson noted that one possible reason for the bloody “surgery” may have been to reduce brain swelling.

Multiple fractures were also found over the man’s left eye, left arm, left leg and collarbone.

Looking at the trauma holistically, Simpson says, it suggests the brain injury may have been caused by an attack or fall.

The archaeologist presented the findings at a virtual session of the American Association of Biological Anthropologists annual meeting.

Researchers unearthed the remains in northwest Alabama and estimate them to be between 3,000 and 5,000 years old.

While cranial surgery can be traced back to 13,000 years ago, this discovery is North America’s oldest known case.

Objects found near the man’s tomb suggest he may have been a ritual practitioner or shaman.

Some of the objects were sharpened bone pins and deer and turkey bones that may have been used for tattooing, Science News reported.

Originally excavated at the Little Bear Creek site in the 1940s, the man’s grave was found among 162 others.

After an appraisal, the remains were sent back to the local Native American communities for reburial.

This article originally appeared on The sun and is reproduced here with permission. Inside America’s oldest cranial surgery 3,000 years ago


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