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Evidence for ancient bone surgery found at Kuelap Fortress

By Hillary Ojeda

What could possibly be the first ever evidence of bone surgery has experts investigating all possible answers at Kuelap.

Evidence for ancient bone surgery found at Kuelap Fortress

(Photo: Reuters)

A study by the University of Florida published in the International Journal of Paleopathology claims to have discovered the first ever evidence for ancient bone surgery found in Peru.

Dr. J Maria Toyne details that two skeletons (dated 800-1535 CE) from the pre-Colombian site of Kuelap demonstrate pathology similar to trepanation. Trepanation is the surgical practice of drilling holes into bones and is the oldest example of surgical intervention.

The two moderately healthy male skeletons, one an adolescent and the other an adult of 30-34 years of age, were found to have drilled holes in the bones of their legs.

The placement and depth suggest to the bioarchaeologists that the holes are not random but were perhaps done to relieve pressure from a physical injury and or severe infection. The holes would have been administered to cure build-up of fluid in the leg.

From their evidence thus far it is unclear whether the skeletons were of individuals that were living patients who died during surgery or if they were experimental skeletons of recently deceased used for training purposes. However, the skill of healers in the region was emphasized by Dr. Toyne and in this period advanced medical practices were known and performed among those living in the Chachapoya region.

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