prehistoric craniotomy

Prehistoric craniotomy remains found in Qinghai

  Chinese archaeologists were the first to discover the remains of prehistoric craniotomy in Qinghai. About half a century ago, members of the Yangshan Team of the Xiachuan Brigade of the Xinmin Commune in Minhe County would always plough a lot of painted pottery, pottery pieces, and human bones when they ploughed the fields. After hearing about it, the cultural relics department went to investigate and found that this is a Neolithic cemetery. These tombs are in farmland and are buried shallowly, so they can be easily plowed out. In order to avoid further damage to the site, the Qinghai Provincial Cultural Relics and Archaeology Team conducted archaeological excavations here in 1980 and 1981, and a total of 230 tombs were excavated. The skull unearthed from the burial numbered M70 has three holes in it. On the top of the skull above the “human” point, there is a large perforation with a slightly rounded triangular shape. The edge of the hole has been blunted, giving birth to many small spiky osteophytes. Experts speculate that the tomb owner was hit by some kind of less sharp instrument before his death, which caused a fracture in the skull and caused inflammation in the brain. But the blunt triangular perforation, which does not appear to have been caused by a blow, is similar in shape to what occurs after modern craniocerebral surgery. The craniotomy seemed to be quite successful, the owner of the skull lived for a long time, and the wound surface had healed. The discovery of Qinghai Minhe Yangshan shocked the Chinese archaeological and medical circles. The skull belongs to the “Banshan-Machang” culture, and the owner of the skull lived more than 4,000 years ago by carbon dating.
  Since then, skulls that have undergone craniotomy have been found in many ancient sites in Qinghai, but the age is later. For example, the skull unearthed from the cemetery M392 of the Sunjiazhai Kayo Culture (Bronze Age) in Datong has also undergone craniotomy. This is a middle-aged man with a large hole in his skull, which is exposed in the middle and front part of the skull. The outer bone plate surrounding the edge of the wound tends to be thin and blunt, which proves that the operation was successful and he is alive after the operation. Carbon dating shows that the man lived about 3,000 years ago. In the skull unearthed at No. M41, Area A, DS A, Datong Shangsunjiazhai Cemetery, Qinghai, there are also holes left after the operation. This is a young and middle-aged man from the Han Dynasty. Between the upper orbital part on the left side of the skull and the eyebrow arch, there is an arc-shaped incision perforation protruding upwards, penetrating into the orbital cavity. Carbon dating, about 2000 years ago.

The skull unearthed at M392 of the Sunjiazhai Kayo Culture Cemetery in Datong Mountain, Qinghai Province, has a large hole in the skull.

  Expert analysis shows that the craniotomy of Qinghai Minhe Yangshan M70 and Datong Shangsunjiazhai M392 used scraping technology, and the scalpel may be a polished stone chip with a sharp edge. The operation on the M41 skull in the DS A area of ​​​​Sunjiazhai in Datong used the cutting method. Since the cutting surface is flat, the sharpness of the surgical tools can be imagined, and the possibility of using metal tools cannot be ruled out. But even if this kind of speculation can be established, it is difficult to open a huge surgical incision almost across the middle of the skull, even with modern medical technology, and the mortality rate is very high. Also, how to relieve pain, how to stop bleeding, how to fight infection… More truths can only be confirmed by more archaeological discoveries.
The earliest prehistoric craniotomy discovered in my country

  The skull hole that is considered to be the earliest craniotomy in my country was unearthed at the Fujia site in Guangrao County, Dongying City, Shandong Province. This was discovered by archaeologists in 1995 in Tomb No. 392 at the Dawenkou Cultural Site of Fujia, Guangrao, Shandong Province. The skull has clear artificial holes. In March 2001, the Shandong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology invited archaeologist Han Kangxin to come to the identification, which proved that this was the earliest surgical craniotomy found in my country, dating back 5,000 years. The skull hole in Tomb No. 392 is located at the back of the right parietal bone, with a nearly circular skull defect, and the cross-section of the edge of the hole defect is a smooth and even arc – this is a phenomenon that can only be found in natural repair. According to the healing of the edge of the hole, the patient lived for several years before dying after the craniotomy, indicating that the craniotomy was a success.

In 1995, a skull with artificial holes was found in Tomb No. 392 at the Dawenkou Cultural Site in Shandong

  In early April 2001, the Shandong Provincial Department of Culture invited experts and scholars from the archaeological and medical circles in Shandong Province to conduct a “consultation” on the head of Tomb 392, and also came to the conclusion that “craniotomy was formed”. Experts then took X-rays and CT scans of the head. At that time, the Shandong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, together with Bao Xiufeng, a professor of neurosurgery and doctoral supervisor in Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, conducted comprehensive research from archaeology, medicine and many other disciplines. The analysis report determined that the owner of tomb No. 392 suffered a craniocerebral trauma during his lifetime and had undergone craniotomy, which was successful. In order to ensure the accuracy, on this basis, on June 25, 2002, the Shandong Provincial Department of Culture invited Wu Xinzhi, Zhang Zhongpei, Huang Jinglue, Yan Wenming, Zhang Min and other authoritative experts from the domestic archaeology, anthropology, and medical fields to jointly form an appraisal. The committee conducted a high-level expert demonstration on this conclusion, and the appraisal experts unanimously determined that this 5,000-year-old head of Tomb No. 392 had undergone craniotomy!
  The prehistoric craniotomy is a major discovery made by Chinese archaeology, which subverts traditional cognition and rewrites history. But who performed this craniotomy and what scalpel was used? It’s hard to have a definite answer to this. Archaeologists speculate that it was prehistoric wizards who performed the craniotomy, and at that time, “witch doctors did not distinguish.” At that time, there were no full-time doctors. Many wizards could see a doctor and save people. Their status was very sacred. They acted as doctors. Later, professional doctors were separated from wizards, and medicine was born. As for the scalpel, when the owner of tomb No. 392 in the Neolithic Age was alive, there should not have been a metal knife, and it was most likely a sharpened stone knife!
Records of craniotomy in Chinese history

  The earliest recorded and most likely person who actually performed craniotomy in Chinese history books appeared in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. He was the originator of surgery in China—Hua Tuo, a famous doctor in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. Ancient novelists also made interpretations on this. For example, in the seventy-eighth chapter of “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, there is such a plot in “The magician who cures the wind and illness is dead, and the number of traitors is inherited.” At that time, Cao Cao’s head typhoid attacked, and Hua Tuo’s radical plan was to open his skull, but Cao Cao thought that Hua Tuo was going to murder him, and “call left and right to take him to prison and torture him.” In the end, Cao Cao actually killed Hua Tuo, the originator of China’s surgery, who died because of advanced diagnosis and treatment, which is really touching.
  Many readers may think that Hua Tuo’s “craniotomy” was fabricated by Luo Guanzhong, a novelist in the late Yuan and early Ming Dynasty. In fact, it is not nonsense. There are at least three reasons: At that time, the “brain-opening operation” of Arab doctors had appeared. , providing inspiration for the creation of the novel; Hua Tuo developed the necessary anesthetic “Mafei San” for craniotomy; another important background is that the Tianzhu people who were able to perform craniotomy at that time had already practiced medicine in China with the spread of Buddhism. .
  According to historical records, during the Tang Dynasty, some people had already performed craniotomy, and the chief surgeon was an Arab who came to China, not a Chinese doctor who was good at cupping, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, there are indeed records of surgeons from West Asia who could perform craniotomy in China and practice medicine in China. “New Book of Tang – Biography of Fulong” records: In Fulong country, “there are good doctors, who can open the brain and get rid of the worms, so as to heal the eyes”. The ancients called craniotomy, also known as “cranial drilling”. It was recorded in “Huihui Prescriptions” that it was a surgical operation to treat blindness of unknown causes. Tao Zongyi from the Yuan Dynasty called it “surgical thaumaturgy” in “Nancun Dropping Farming Records”, and gave an example: “When I went to the apartment, the neighbor’s child suffered from a headache, which was unbearable. When I returned to the medical officer, I cut the forehead with a knife… …”