Bronze-age brain surgery discovered in Turkey

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:58 PM ET

An archeologist working in Turkey has uncovered what appear to be scalpels that have been used in primitive brain surgeries.

Onder Bilgi, in an interview with New Scientist Magazine, said that obsidian blades dating back to 3,200 BC were found in single-story structures made of logs. But his team also found cuts on skulls nearby that match the shape of the blades.

"At this time, 4,000 years ago or more, it could only have been an obsidian blade," he told the science magazine. "The cut marks show that a blade was used to make a rectangular opening all the way through the skull. We know that patients lived at least two to three years after the surgery, because the skull has tried to close the wound."

Bilgi believes that the surgery was most often performed to relieve pressure from brain hemorrhages or tumours.

The dig site, Ikiztepe, is only a stone's throw from the Black Sea on Turkey's northern edge. During the bronze age, the area was a major copper producer.

"The inhabitants were skilled at metallurgy, unusually so for the period," he said.

While other civilizations during the same period exhibited some interest in the brain, none of the era have shown such skill in patient survival and precision of work, say scientists.


Videos

Photos