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To remain in Europe, numerous finds of burials of individuals subjected to trepanation also in Italy.
In the north, in S. Martino (LC), the tomb of a woman, datable to the Bronze Age (2200-1600 BC)
In the town of Catenaso (BO), in one of the two “hearth” pits, datable to the late phase of the Bolognese Villanovan period (Iron Age), a rare case of cranial trepanation performed in the nape of the neck was found.
In the Center-South, in the Patrizi Grotto (Sasso di Furbara – Rome) a skeleton was found, affected by various pathologies, with signs of cranial trepanation. In the excavations of the village of Catignano (PE) is perhaps the oldest Italian find (4400-3900 BC): that of a woman who survived two cranial drills.
In the Islands, in Stretto-Partanna (TR) a cranial trepanation carried out with a well-sharpened stone tool was reported. On the other hand, the tools used in Sardinia were probably made of obsidian or perhaps copper, where the practice of drilling was widespread, especially in the north of the island (Alghero and Sassari), as evidenced by the findings in the Sisaia cave (Dorgali, NU), datable to 1600 BC, and the burials of Su Crucifissu Mannu (Porto Torres, SS). Preferably, they were adult individuals, who have perforations on the right side of the skull, more exposed to trauma because they were not protected by the shield during the fighting. In these cases the operation may have been performed for therapeutic purposes (evacuation of hematomas, lifting of sunken fractures, etc.). However, the outcome must have almost always been auspicious, as evidenced by the numerous reoxification processes encountered.
One of the most important archaeological areas is undoubtedly that of the Paracas peninsula in Peru.
The area, mainly desert, located in an area that also includes the Nazca plateau, famous for its mysterious “Lines”, and the city of Ica, home to a historical museum where many artifacts are preserved, has been extensively studied by a Peruvian archaeologist, Julio Tello.
He found numerous burials of the pre-Inca Paracas civilization (dating back about 4000 years ago), well preserved thanks to the mummification process, attributable to the dry desert climate.
The infant’s skull was, that is, forced to grow in a cylindrical / conical mold, applied from birth. The cruel procedure resulted in a bizarre modeling of the skull which, when ossification completed, assumed a piriform appearance. The conic shapes were used to identify the subject’s tribal membership, so that they differed significantly from tribe to tribe.
In the New World, trepanation was a well-known practice not only among the populations of the North (artifacts have been found in the US states of Maryland, Georgia and New Mexico, but also in Canadian British Columbia and even Alaska) but also, and above all, in the pre-Columbian civilizations Aztec, Maya, Zapotec and, in particular, the Inca one.
One of the most used trepanation techniques was also that which consisted in making a series of small holes around the fractured area or the area to be removed and then joining them through cuts: the area thus “cut” was then removed using small levers . The exposed brain was then protected by thin sheets of hard wood and cotton pads.
If the head injury was so extensive that trepanation was not recommended, the injured part of the skull was protected by a protective helmet built with “plaster”.
Certainly the conception of these tools for cranial trepanation predates the birth of the Mayan power, whose government later became the guarantor and controller of this medical practice.
The results of the trepanation operations are surprising: in the majority of cases (according to the series, from 62.5 to 55.3% of cases) the operation was effective and allowed the patient a long survival.
Finally, it is known that anesthesia was used by the Maya. Alcoholic drinks or various preparations derived from the coca plant served to withstand the pain. B.