Scientists were overwhelmed when they found evidence that the Bronze Age man had been operated on with a stone scalpel at the age of 20.
Notable 3D images and images from the Crimea show traces of trepanation – when a hole is intentionally made in the skull.
The operation was unsuccessful, scientists say, and the “unfortunate” patient lived only a short time after the operation.
“The old” doctor “definitely had a” surgical set of “stone tools,” said the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.
The skull was found on a skeleton in a deep grave in a burial mound from the Scythian era about 5,000 years ago.
“Judging by the position of the bones, the deceased’s body was carefully laid on its back, turned slightly on the left side, the legs strongly bent at the knees and turned to the left,” said the institute.
“Large fragments of red pigment were found near the head and the vault of the skull.”
Two flint arrowheads were buried with the old man.
The dimensions of the trephination were 140 × 125 millimeters.
Dr. Maria Dobrovolskaya, Head of the Laboratory for Contextual Anthropology,
said: “This young man was unlucky.
“Despite the fact that the survival rate after trepanation was also very high in ancient times, he apparently died shortly after the operation.
“This is evidenced by the lack of obvious signs of healing.
“There are clear traces of a trephination instrument on the bone surface.
“Paradoxically, this is a rarity, since most people in antiquity surely survived even after several trepanations.”
Three types of traces were left by the prehistoric “surgeons” using different types of stone blades, said Olesya Uspenskaya, a researcher in Stone Age archeology.
These were small long linear tracks, large deep linear tracks in the form of parallel grooves and tracks left with a thick blade.
Experts believe that trepanation was performed in ancient times for both surgical and ritual purposes.
In some cases it could have been to “change a person’s nature”.
The goal of brain surgery in ancient times may have been to relieve severe headaches, heal a hematoma, repair skull injuries, or overcome epilepsy.
Research in Russia shows that prehistoric medical professionals who perform primitive procedures of this type use cannabis, magic mushrooms, and even shamanic practices such as ecstatic dancing as anesthetics to relieve pain.
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