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CRANIOTOMY AS A PREHISTORIC MEDICAL PRACTICE: A CASE OF ANTEMORTEM CRANIAL TREPANATION IN SOUTHERN SIBERIA IN THE LATE BRONZE AGE

https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2018.46.1.133-143

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Abstract

Complete trepanation with the removal of the inner bone plate was studied on a cranium of a male aged ca 35 from a Late Bronze Age burial at Anzhevka in the Krasnoyarsk-Kansk forest-steppe, dating to 1000–700 BC. Certain burials including that with a trephined cranium reveal traces of post-funerary rituals. The individual displays the Paleosiberian (Baikal) combination of craniometric and dental characteristics. Results of the macroand microscopic analysis of the affected area, along with multislice computed tomography (MSCT), suggest that the trepanation was performed to treat osteomyelitis of the parietal bone with an epidural abscess (empyema), caused by an open depressed fracture of the left parietal bone, infl icted with a tool having a small contact area. In modern forensic practice, such perforations are attributed to hammer blows. This would explain the absence of linear fractures of the parietal bone around the trepanation zone. Craniotomy with the removal of the osteomyelitiс focus and the emptying of the epidural abscess led to a prolonged preservation of the patient’s life. Results of a traceological analysis suggest that the aperture was made by scraping, and a thin tetrahedral tool was used to remove the bone fragment. Possibly the use of bronze instruments, known to have antiseptic properties, helped the ancient healer to cope with an advanced infectious process.

About the Authors

T. A. Chikisheva
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



A. L. Krivoshapkin
Novosibirsk State Medical University
Russian Federation

Krasny pr. 52, Novosibirsk, 630091



D. V. Pozdnyakov
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090



P. V. Volkov
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences; Novosibirsk State University
Russian Federation

Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Pirogova 1, Novosibirsk, 630090



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For citation:


Chikisheva T.A., Krivoshapkin A.L., Pozdnyakov D.V., Volkov P.V. CRANIOTOMY AS A PREHISTORIC MEDICAL PRACTICE: A CASE OF ANTEMORTEM CRANIAL TREPANATION IN SOUTHERN SIBERIA IN THE LATE BRONZE AGE. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2018;46(1):133-143. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.17746/1563-0110.2018.46.1.133-143

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