Thursday, December 02, 2004

Brain Surgery in the Early 1600s

As reported in the Boston Globe:
Skull fragment shows 400-year-old surgery in Va., researchers say
The Boston Globe
By Sonja Barisic, Associated Press
December 2, 2004

NORFOLK, Va. -- A skull fragment found in a nearly 400-year-old trash pit at Jamestown contains evidence of the earliest known surgery and possible autopsy in the English Colonies in America, researchers say.

Circular cut marks indicate someone attempted to drill two holes in the skull to relieve pressure on the brain, the researchers said. The patient, a European man, died and apparently underwent an autopsy.

Archeologists found the 4-inch-by-4-inch fragment this summer while digging in a bulwark trench on the site of James Fort. Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, was founded in 1607 as a business venture.

The skull piece was discarded with trash, such as pottery shards, from no later than about 1610, said Bly Straube, senior curator of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities.
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