Neurosurgery during the Bronze Age: a skull trepanation in 1900 BC Greece.

Papagrigorakis, MJ; Toulas, P; Tsilivakos, MG; Kousoulis, AA; Skorda, D; Orfanidis, G; Synodinos, PN; (2013) Neurosurgery during the Bronze Age: a skull trepanation in 1900 BC Greece. World neurosurgery, 81 (2). pp. 431-5. ISSN 1878-8750 DOI:

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OBJECTIVE Paleoneurosurgery represents a comparatively new developing direction of neurosurgery dealing with archaeological skull and spine finds and studying their neurosurgical aspects. Trepanation of the cranial vault was a widespread surgical procedure in antiquity and the most convincing evidence of the ancient origin of neurosurgery. The present study considers a case of trepanation from the Middle Bronze Age Greece (1900-1600 B.C.). METHODS The skull under study belongs to skeletal material unearthed from Kirra, Delphi (Central Greece). Macroscopic examination and palpation, as well as three-dimensional computed tomography, were used in this study. RESULTS There is osteological evidence that the skull belongs to a man who died at 30-35 years of age. The procedure of trepanation was performed on the right parietal bone. Both macroscopic and computed tomography evaluation demonstrate an intravital bone reaction at the edges of the aperture. Projected on the right surface of the brain, the trepanation is located on the level of the central groove. The small dimensions and the symmetrical shape of this hole give us an indication that it was made by a metal tool. CONCLUSION We conclude that this paleopathological case provides valuable information about the condition of life and the pre-Hippocratic neurosurgical practice in Bronze Age Greece.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
PubMed ID: 23321381
Web of Science ID: 334094900060


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