Holes in ancient skulls reflect skilled medical care
When Incan healers scraped or cut a hunk of bone out of a person’s head, they meant business. Practitioners of this technique, known as trepanation, demonstrated great skill more than 500 years ago in treating warriors’ head wounds and possibly other medical problems, rarely causing infections or killing their patients, two anthropologists find.
Trepanation emerged as a promising but dangerous medical procedure by about 1,000 years ago in small communities near the eventual Inca heartland in Peru’s Andes mountains, say Valerie Andrushko of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and John Verano of TulaneUniversity in New Orleans. Incan healers later mastered certain trepanation methods,