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13 November 2014

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You are in: Wiltshire > History > Curator's Pick > Bronze Age brain surgery

Bronze Age brain surgery

Curator's Choice: Removing a brain tumour with a Bronze Age flint at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum...

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum and Library

"This is the trepanned disk from the cranium of a young man, found in the excavation of a Bronze Age barrow at Snail Down in Collingbourne Kingston in 1955.

"The object may look very unprepossessing but it is the story behind it that we find quite amazing.

"The cut was probably made with a blade made of flint..."

Roger Watson - Documentation Officer

"Sometime between 2000 and 1600 BC, this young man underwent a major surgical operation, perhaps for a brain tumour, that involved the cutting away of a disk of bone measuring 32 mm in diameter from his cranium.

"The cut was probably made with a blade made of flint which is razor sharp. What was used for an anaesthetic or to sterilise to close the wound we don't know at all, but the process must have been very unhygienic when compared with today’s hospital procedures.

"Did he survive the operation? Again we don't know but we do know that in other cases the Bronze Age person did survive the operation and in one instance went on to repeat the operation two more times."

Roger Watson, Documentation Officer

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum and Library

  • ADDRESS: Wiltshire Heritage Museum, 41 Long Street, Devizes SN10 1NS
  • TELEPHONE: 01380 727369
  • OPEN: Usual Opening Times: Museum 10am - 5pm, Monday to Saturday and noon - 4pm on Sundays
  • ADMISSION: Museum admission is: £4 Adults, £3 concessions, £1 for Children under 16 (first child in group, others are admitted FREE - except school groups)

last updated: 03/12/2008 at 16:42
created: 27/02/2008

You are in: Wiltshire > History > Curator's Pick > Bronze Age brain surgery



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