The Secret Life of the Brain
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History of the Brain
trepanized skull

Trepanized skull.

Archaeological evidence dating from this time suggests that trepanation, a form of primitive brain surgery that involved boring a hole into the skull, was widely practiced by prehistoric man.
Trepanized skulls with evidence of healing have been found at many sites, suggesting that the subjects of these operations survived. In South America, pre-Incan civilizations performed trepanation using surgical tools made of bronze and sharp-edged volcanic rock. The sheer number of trepanized skulls found at such sites indicates that this surgery was commonplace. The reason for the frequency of trepanation is not known, but archaeologists suspect that it was used for both spiritual and magical reasons, as well as to treat headaches, epilepsy and mental illness.


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