According to recent study, Peruvian healers practiced cranial surgery more than 1000 years ago.
Researchers excavating burial caves in the south-central Andean province of Andahuaylas in Peru, found evidence that Peruvian healers practiced trepanation – a surgical process that involves removing a section of the cranial vault using a hand drill or a scraping tool – more than 1,000 years ago.
This advanced medical procedure helped to treat a variety of ailments, from head injuries to heartsickness.
What is interesting is that the procedures were performed in the mysterious Wari empire which spread in the southern Andes 16 miles north of present-day Ayacucho and suddenly collapsed. Their knowledge of technology and agricultural practices they adopted from the Huarpa, an earlier civilization that inhabited the Ayacucho region, contributed to high standard of their agriculture.
Their capital was surrounded with irrigated terraces which helped them survive catastrophic droughts. Apparently, these ancient people of Peru were not only skilled in agriculture but also possessed an extraordinary knowledge of surgical practices.
Trepanations first appeared in the south-central Andean highlands during the Early Intermediate Period (ca. AD 200-600), although the technique was not universally practiced. Still, it was considered a viable medical procedure until the Spanish put the kibosh on the practice in the early 16th century, according to Kurin.
“When you get a knock on the head that causes your brain to swell dangerously, or you have some kind of neurological, spiritual or psychosomatic illness, drilling a hole in the head becomes a reasonable thing to do,” said Kurin.
“For about 400 years, from 600 to 1000 AD, the area where I work — the Andahuaylas — was living as a prosperous province within an enigmatic empire known as the Wari,” she said. “For reasons still unknown, the empire suddenly collapsed.”
A practice of drilling holes in the cranium dates back thousands of years and somehow, the knowledge of this extremely advanced medical procedure also reached people in Peru.
Kurin’s research shows various cutting practices and techniques being employed by practitioners around the same time. Some used scraping, others used cutting and still others made use of a hand drill.
New bone growth at the trepanation site on the side of the head indicates a successful procedure. However, the holes drilled at the top of the skull were as the individual was dying or shortly after he died.
The study shows that the Peruvian healers tried different techniques and experimented with different ways of cutting into the skull. Sometimes they were successful and the patient recovered, and sometimes things didn’t go so well. “We can tell a trepanation is healed because we see these finger-like projections of bone that are growing, Kurin said.
“The idea with this surgery is to go all the way through the bone, but not touch the brain,” said Kurin. “That takes incredible skill and practice.
Source: Message To Eagle