May 25, 2015

Advanced Trepanation Found in 1000 CE Lake Titicaca Skulls

A team of researchers working at the Copacabana Peninsula on Lake Titicaca are studying skeletons from 1000-1250 CE in the area, at the site of Ch’isi. Nine adults were found in an above ground burial chamber, and all had survived skeletal trauma. Four had blunt or sharp trauma to the face and head, seven had bodily injuries. One adult was probably beaten with a hand held mace. A female had blunt force trauma to her head, face and arms. She shows signs of trepanation or cranial surgery. Trapanation is used to relieve pressure from blood build up. The female was operated on by drilling small holes around the injury and removing bones in the middle. She survived for many years thereafter. All nine survived their injuries. The skeletons show the violent nature of life in this region at the time and the advanced state of medical knowledge. Two groups in the area were at war with one another and with the Incas as well.
Read more about the human remains from the Copacabana Peninsula in the following articles: S. Juengst and S. Chávez, “Three trepanned skulls from the Copacabana peninsula in the Titicaca Basin, Bolivia (800 BC – 1000 AD),” in the International Journal of Paleopathology. S. Juengst, S. Chávez, D. Hutchinson, and K. Mohr Chávez, “Trauma in the Titicaca Basin, Bolivia (AD 1000-1450),” in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology.

Forbes has the report here with many good photos;
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinakillgrove/2015/05/25/surviving-trauma-cranial-surgery-titicaca/

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