5,300-year-old skull shows signs of painful ear surgery

Photo: Photographic study, Scientific Reports

As early as the Stone Age, people dared to perform medical procedures on the head. A human skull from a megalithic cemetery in El Pendón in northern Spain, dating from the 4th millennium BC. Confirms it again. According to researcher Sonia Díaz Navarro and colleagues, published in Scientific ReportsTreated areas recovered. The procedure may have been intended to alleviate the effects of a serious middle ear infection. According to the research group, this is the oldest evidence of ear surgery to date.

skull From about 3300 BC Belongs to a woman of about 50 years old. She once had an enlarged external auditory canal. Then the surface of the bone heals. In addition, scientists found small wounds in the left ear. They could not find any infected bone tissue from earlier periods. That’s why they assume the surgery was a success – at least during the months when the bones were healing.

very painful

From the findings, the researchers concluded that the woman may have had an acute middle ear infection, which resulted in a bacterial infection of the skull bones. To treat the infection, the diseased bone tissue will likely be removed in a procedure known as a mastoidectomy. Unlike today, this process was likely very painful at the time, as the bone was scraped. “During the operation, other people had to restrain the patient, or the patient had to be given psychotropic substances beforehand to relieve pain or render him unconscious,” the study said.

In the El Bendon rock cemetery, in the Spanish province of Burgos, archaeologists have documented the remains of about 100 people. C14 dating revealed that deaths there over a long period from 3800 to 3000 BC. they were buried.

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