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World’s 1st Surgery Took Place in Head of Peruvian Warrior 2,000 Years Ago

World’s 1st Surgery Took Place in Head of Peruvian Warrior 2,000 Years Ago

Thursday, 20 January, 2022 - 06:45
Biological anthropologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History examine the skulls discovered near Templo Mayor, one of the main temples in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Photo: Reuters

Metal plate implanted into head of Peruvian warrior 2,000 years ago is thought to be the world's first skull surgery and it was successful, The Daily Mail reported.

The 2,000-year-old skull of a Peruvian warrior was found to have been fused together with metal in one of the world's oldest examples of advanced surgery, according to a museum curator.

The Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma says the skull, which is in its collection, is reported to have been that of a man who was injured during battle before having some of the earliest forms of surgery to implant a piece of metal in his head to repair the fracture.

Experts told the Daily Mail that the man survived the surgery, with the skull now a key piece of evidence in proving that ancient peoples were capable of performing advanced surgeries.

The skull in question is an example of a Peruvian elongated skull, which is an ancient form of body modification where tribe members intentionally deformed the skulls of young children by binding them with cloth or even binding the head between two pieces of wood for prolonged periods of time.

“This is a Peruvian elongated skull with metal surgically implanted after returning from battle, estimated to be from about 2,000 years ago. It’s one of our more interesting and oldest pieces in the collection. We don't have a ton of background on this piece, but we do know he survived the procedure,” the museum said in a statement.

“Based on the broken bone surrounding the repair, you can see that it's tightly fused together. It was a successful surgery,” added the statement.

The skull had originally been kept in the museum's private collection; However it was officially put on display in 2020 following growing public interest in the artifact due to news coverage on the discovery of the skull. The area where the skull was discovered in Peru has long been known for surgeons who invented a series of complex procedures to treat a fractured skull.

The injury was commonplace at the time due to the use of projectiles like slingshots during battle. Elongated skulls were common in Peru at the time and were stretched by applying force to a person's cranium, often by binding it between two pieces of wood. According to researchers, the skull elongation served as a way for society's elites to mark themselves out.

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