Israel unearths evidence of a skull surgery performed 3,500 years ago

Researchers from Israel and the United States have found evidence of a skull surgery performed about 3,500 years ago.

In a new study published in the U.S. scientific journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday, the researchers examined the skeletons of two young brothers who were buried under the floor of a structure from the Late Bronze Age (about 1550 – 1450 BC), in the modern village of Megiddo in northern Israel.

The researchers found that the two brothers suffered from developmental disorders, and discovered extensive bone remodeling consistent with a chronic infectious disease in both.

It was found that one brother had a large square piece of bone cut from the frontal bone, as part of a cranial trephination, which is an operation during which a hole is drilled or cut in the skull.

Unfortunately, he did not survive the operation, and died a short while after it, the researchers noted.

The infrequency of trephination in the region indicates that only selected people could access such a procedure, and the severity of pathological lesions the young man suffered from suggested that the cutting was intended to cure his deteriorating health, the researchers wrote.

The burial of the two brothers, along with Cypriot pottery and other valuable possessions, showed that they were members of elite society.

The team included researchers from Brown University, the State University of New York, the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, and the University of Haifa in northern Israel. ■

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