Evidence found of brain surgery 4,000 years ago

The examination of a skeleton found during archaeological digs at Kultepe Höyük near the Kayseri-Sivas highway suggests that the Assyrian tradesman’s skull was opened 4,000 years ago to drain the cerebral cortex.

Archeologists discovered an important cemetery on their first day of excavations in the Kaniş region. Prof. Dr. Fikri Kulakoğlu from Ankara University Language-History-Geography Faculty archaeology division told the Anatolia news agency that teams excavating at the Kültepe-Kaniş-Karum area -- where digs have been going on since 1948 -- discovered a very important cemetery on their first day of excavations of the Kaniş region in 2010. They found the remains of an Assyrian tradesman, complete with his weaponry and personal belongings.

“The 4,000-year-old cemetery belongs to the Colonial Era, and alongside the skeleton, which likely belonged to a male Assyrian tradesman, we discovered personal belongings including a spear and an axe. An examination of his body yielded that a successful brain operation was performed on him before he died.  We’re getting off to a good start to this year’s digs after this discovery, which has boosted our team’s morale,” Kulakoğlu said.

Anadolu University faculty member Dr. Handan Üstündağ noted that this was the first discovery of a skull of this kind. “Hundreds of skeletons have been found at Kültepe, but this one is different. There’s a very straight incision in his skull, 6 x 3 cm and traces indicate that the operation was completed successfully and that the patient healed after the procedure. This shows us that 4,000 years ago, a successful brain surgery was conducted: A drainage operation was performed and the patient’s recovery was ensured.  We can see this plainly. Whoever did this was very experienced, and the operation was successful,” she said.


Source: Todays Zaman [July 24, 2010]


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