Archaeology News

Archaeology – Early Evidence of Cranial Surgeries

Published March 2, 2023

A fascinating article has been published within the International Journal of Osteoarcheology by Ileana Micarelli, Flavia Strani, Samuel Bedecarrats and a multidisciplinary team of researchers.

The article details the analysis of human remains that were discovered within the Longobard necropolis of Castel Trosino, dating form the 6th to the 8th century. The remains are unique as the individuals skull demonstrated signs of healed scrapings, suggesting that the individual, identified as a woman in her 50’s, had undergone at least 2 cranial procedures and survived. The analysis of the remains included macroscopic, microscopic, and CT scans and the use of epoxy resin casts via Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) ensured that the investigation was nondestructive and conservation-friendly.

Further details of the multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of the remains are discussed with Micarelli’s article and is potentially some of the earliest evidence of of cranial surgery in which the patient survived to be discovered.

For more information, read the full journal Article here.

Similar research was also captured in news headlines recently, including articles published by both the ABC and CNN. The articles follow the recently published works of Rachel Kalisher and a team from Brown University in the United States. Their work focuses on the skeletal remains of two brothers, discovered in 2016 beneath the floor of an elite early Late Bronze Age I (ca. 1550–1450 BC) domestic structure in Megiddo’s urban center (modern Israel). The remains also showed evidence of cranial trephination, in which a large square segment of the frontal bone is removed. This is believed to have occurred perimortem as the color and smooth beveling  indicates the cuts were made to living bone and great care was taken not to damage or puncture the underlying dura mater. However, the lack of healing around the remaining cranial bones suggest the individual died either during or within a week of the procedure.

Read Kalisher’s full article here.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and updates directly to your email.