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> Trepanning, an ancient technique Issue: 2011-3 Section: 14-16



Trepanning is surgical penetration in which a hole was opened on the skull, in order to cure mental problems and epilepsy. It was a method known from prehistoric times to which has assigned cannibalistic acts. Some primitive conducting drilling in cannibalistic superstitions to gain the power of the enemy by eating his brain. Although the phenomenon was rare, happened. Also happened during religious ceremonies and magical except therapeutic reasons. For purposes of treatment currently carried out by small ethnic groups in the region of Oceania and even in the eastern Caucasus. This operation was extremely difficult and complex even modernized through surgery remains difficult. It is worth noting that was a success with tools from flint splinters, but sometimes the infection rates were high and the patients died after surgery. Evidence that such interventions are happening skulls from prehistoric times and is now found in museums.

In fact we can see signs of healing in the holes of the skulls which means that there holes of the skulls which means that there were many cases where people lived who were submitted to surgery.


The drilling of the skull was one of the first medical surgical procedures attempt to man and even the Palaeolithic man. The images above belong to the man living in 2. BC whose skull hole was 1.62 cm in the left parietal bone found in the area which has been identified Atsikis Hellenistic necropolis. The skull of the skeleton that has been drilling but to remove the shard gun was discovered in Veria in ancient Greek tomb with manifest signs drilling the skull. The technique of drilling was known to Hippocrates, Galen and Celsus, and may find many more skulls with such evidence in the Greek land.



The earliest evidence of surgery for the treatment of migraine is coming from a very old skeleton of a Neanderthal man found at Mount Zagrou in Iraq. Dated to 60,000 years ago and bearing signs of amputation of his right arm. This is the first known surgery in the skull which is a form of early trepanning. It was not drilling because they were schisms on the skull rather than holes, that this operation removed small pieces of bones of the skull with a knife.



Neolithic Age

The oldest sample of trepanned skull comes from Ukraine and dated to between 8,000 and 7,600 BC Also in France 1000 years after many skulls found in a mass grave where they had been drilling. This time using the drill horizontal, round which was made of flexible wood with leather string. Placing the drill go head surgeon drove the horizontal part and thereby open up circular holes. This technique was similar to the lighting of fires.


Pre-Columbian Age

In Mesoamerica happen very often by tribes like the Incas. This operation was done for the aforementioned reasons, but was also in the form of ritual. These days the tools used are the knife and the drill. The knife was made of copper or brass. After the surgery was done at the open of the head were placed pieces of copper or gold.

Today the term drilling does not exist any more. These interventions are best known as craniotomy, and their name can change depending on the part of the brain where the intersection can be. It is used to remove tumours with advanced tools and computer use. Nevertheless, it continues to be an extremely dangerous surgery.