RESEARCH

Brain surgery prevalent 4,300 years ago in Indus Valley during Harappa Culture: Study

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A study published in the latest edition of the Indian journal, Current Science reveals that brain surgical practice was prevalent even 4,300 years ago — in the Indus Valley during the Harappa Culture! The finding is based on the surgical procedure, known as trepanation, discovered in one Harappan male skull kept in the Palaeoanthropology Repository of Kolkata-based Anthropological Survey of India (ASI). The skull was discovered in 1930s during excavations in Harappa.

The trepanated Harappan male skull H-796/B in the Palaeoanthropology Repository of Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata in three views: a, the left lateral view showing the trepanated hole; b, the postero-lateral view showing the horizontal linear traumatic fracture on the occipital bone; c, an enlarged view of the trepanated site showing the rim of callous formed due to healing, and d, the trepanated Burzahom female skull showing signs of multiple trepanations. (Image Source: Current Science)

“The first unequivocal case of ancient brain surgical practice, known as trepanation, was observed 4,300 years ago in a Bronze Age Harappan skull,” says A R Sankhyan, a palaeoanthropologist from ASI. “A clear rim of 3 mm width at the internal border of the hole is the evidence of osteogenesis or healing, indicating that the victim survived for a considerable time after the operation.”

According to A R Sankhyan, it was found that the trephined hole is just on the right superior temporal line at the terminus of the traumatic line. Thus, trepanation was practised as a common means of surgery during the Bronze Age in the Indian subcontinent, which could have been a precursor to the later Ayurvedic surgical practices followed in ancient India as well. [Source: Pioneer]

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