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Ancient Skulls with Traces of Ritual Trepanation Found in Russia
May 26, 2016 14:29

Scientists have found 13 special ancient skulls in the south of Russia: they all bear traces of trepanation, a surgery of cutting an opening in the cranial bone. Especially amazing is the fact that all the skulls have a man-made hole in alsmost the same place. This might testify to ritual purposes of the surgery, anthropologist Julia Greski from the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin pointed out.

"We have studied the Bronze Age culture jointly with colleagues from Russia and found extremely interesting skulls with trepanation traces. They stand out among similar finds with the fact that the opening is always located in the same place: right in the middle of the back of the head", - she added.

Julia Greski and her Russian colleagues studied the skulls found in Stavropol Krai, Kabardino-Balkaria and near Rostov-on-Don. The finds are dated to the 5-3 millennia B.C.

6 of the found skulls belonged to men and 6 of them were those of women. The gender of the 13th skull could not be identfied. The age of these people's death ranges from 14-16 to 50-69 years. The age of surgery ranges from teenage to senior age.

To Survive after Trepanation
There are no healing post-surgery traces only in two of the found skulls, which means that surgery was performed during lifetime and people survived.  "The survival capacity of people after these complicated surgeries is incredible. Ancient surgeons obviously knew what's what", - the anthropologist emphasized.

Life Afterwards
If the patient survived the first weeks and months after the surgery, had no inflammation issues developed and had the wounds healed, the hole in the skull was skinned and covered with cicatricial tissue. All the openings were made at the back of the head. The biggest opening found by scientists is of an oval shape and about 9 centimeters long and  4,5 centimeters wide, whereas the smallest of them is about 2,5 centimeters large in the diameter.

Why Trepanation?
Scientists are yet to find out why our ancestors carried out this strange surgery.
They assume that in particular cases trepanaton was performed because of a trauma or a disease. However, that is not the only possible reason.
"We think that trepanation could be made for ritual purposes, as well as for some other reasons, such as migranes, epilepsy and suchlike issues, which cannot be established on the basis of bones", - the scientist explained.
The researches lean towards the view that trepanation like this was meant for a particular upper category of people, most probably the shamans.


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Russian scientists     

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