In 2012, archaeologists excavating burial caves in the south-central Andean province of Andahuaylas in Peru discovered the remains of 32 individuals dating back between 7 years and, incredibly, they found evidence of 45 separate surgical procedures on the skulls of the individuals.Cranial surgery, known as trephination, is one of the first ever surgical practices and is known to have begun in the Neolithic era.Then a piece of skin of the required size should be dissected from the living skin of the cheek, and turned back to cover the nose, keeping a small pedicle attached to the cheek.The part of the nose to which the skin is to be attached should be made raw by cutting the nasal stump with a knife.Dentistry, in some form or another, has been practiced for at least 9,000 years, although tooth extraction and remedies for tooth aches probably go back much further.The study of ancient remains from around the world has demonstrated the ingenuity that existed in the application of surgical and cosmetic dental practices going back many millennia.It is thought this was done to treat a possible lower leg infection, and this is a rare find.
Chemical examination revealed that these terracotta unguentarium had contained methanone, phenanthrene, and phenanthrene carboxylic acid.
It is hard to fathom the way in which invasive surgery was carried out prior to the development of modern anaesthesia, but ancient people around the world have been cutting and drilling into the human body for thousands of years.
Here we look at eight impressive but terrifying cases of ancient surgery, from rhinoplasty to leg surgery, dental implants, and brain surgery, in some cases dating back an incredible 11,000 years.
It is still unknown what anesthetic, if any, was used to dull the pain during the surgery. The ancient doctor or doctors who performed the surgeries did them at a location on the skull that minimized damage to the brain and assured longer survival.
The researchers believe the surgeries were carried out using the same principles as those found in the Hippocratic Corpus, which requires strict adherence to medical ethics and techniques. Remarkably, it appears one of the men lived for years after the trepanation surgery because some of the bone grew back.