7,000-Year-Old Skull Discovered In Sudan Reveals Practice Of Skull Surgery

MessageToEagle.com –  A 7,000-year-old skull discovered in Sudan reveals ancient people practiced skull surgery.

The skull, discovered during excavations conducted in the Neolithic settlement (V-IV millennium BC) in Omdurman in Sudan is one of the oldest known cases of trepanation of the skull in North East Africa.

Ancient people practiced trepanation mainly for medical or magical-religious purposes.

The deceased person was a male, about 160 cm tall and between 55-65 years. This is a good age, considering the average age 7 thousand years ago in Sudan it was in fact much lower.  It was rather uncommon a person reached such a high age in those days.

sudan skull trepanation
Archaeologist at work in Khor Shambat. Photo: M. Jórdeczka

Examination of the skull revealed the man suffered from ailments common also today, such as tooth decay or periodontitis.

The hole in the discovered skull was circular, with a diameter of approx. 2 cm.

“The dead were then buried within the settlement – it was a widely practiced custom,” Dr. Maciej Jórdeczka from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology (IAE) PAS in Poznan said.

sudan skull trepanation
The grave of a man subjected to trepanation. Photo: M. Jórdeczka

Anthropologist from the National Archaeological Museum in Warsaw, Dr. Łukasz Maurycy Stanaszek determined that the wound resulting from trepanation had not healed, which means that the procedure could lead to instant death of the man. He does not rule out that the hole could be made after the death of the man for unspecified magical purposes, such as “releasing an evil spirit from the body”. The scientist pointed out that the hole was made proficiently – the edge of the hole is quite regular and smooth, which undoubtedly proves the use of special scraping tools. He mentioned flint-bone scrapers, knives or drills.

See also:

Prehistoric Surgery: Skull Operations Technically Superior To Our Own

Siberia Had A Major Skull Surgery Center 2,500 Years Ago

Bathonea: Skull Reveals A Successful Brain Surgery Performed 1,000 Years Ago

“Trepanation is not the only reason why this is an interesting burial” – Dr. Jórdeczka told PAP. A clamshell was placed on the man’s temple, and his whole body was covered with ochre – reddish mineral, used since the Paleolithic period as a dye, among other things. The deceased was placed in the foetal position, strongly compressed – his knees were pulled up to his forehead.

sudan skull trepanation
Trepanation hole in the skull. Photo: M. Jórdeczka

There is plenty of evidence that civilizations world-wide performed sophisticated ancient cranial surgery. A major ancient skull surgery existed in Siberia about 2,500 years ago. Trepanation was practiced in ancient Iraq and many other places in different parts of the world.