'Chelsea Man' Reveals Work of Bronze Age's Top Brain Surgeons

By Atik, Nilufer | The Evening Standard (London, England), August 20, 2002 | Go to article overview

'Chelsea Man' Reveals Work of Bronze Age's Top Brain Surgeons


Atik, Nilufer, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: NILUFER ATIK

FOR years it lay hidden beneath the earth - a priceless yet undiscovered example of one of man's first surgical procedures.

But now the skull, dating back almost 4,000 years, has finally been retrieved and casts light on the gruesome practice of trepanation - drilling or gouging a hole in the head with the aim of relieving a variety of ailments.

The Bronze Age adult skull was discovered on the banks of the Thames at Chelsea. Experts believe it provides the earliest known example of trepanation found in London.

The male skull, named Chelsea Man, was accidentally found by archaeologists during one of their regular inspections of the river foreshore.

Although human skulls with trepanation holes have been unearthed before, Chelsea Man is the first ever dated example discovered in London.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: "This is a very exciting find. This teaches us a little bit more about the city's history. Although we have found skulls before in the Thames we have never found one that has been trepanned that we could actually date."

Around 40 trepanned skulls have been discovered in Britain, dating from Neolithic to post-mediaeval times. The practice was used to treat physical and mental ailments, and also for ritual purposes.

Dr Simon Mays, English Heritage expert on human remains, said: "Trepanning is probably the oldest form of surgery we know. The trepanning on this skull would have been carried out with a scraping tool, probablya flint, using great care to avoid piercing the brain.

"The skull shows there were people in Britain at the time with significant anatomical and surgical skills."

Accounts based on observation of societies where the practice occurred much later describe the surgeon peeling back flaps of skin, and covering the hole in the skull with a coconut shell and banana leaves. It is believed Chelsea Man, whose skull dates back to 1750BC, would probably have relied on leaves, dried grass or thin bark to cover the wound, and the operation would have taken between 30 minutes and an hour.

Bone regrowth around the edge of the hole, which measures around 45mm by 30mm, proves that - although there were no efficient antiseptics or anaesthetics in the Bronze Age - patients survived the operation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

'Chelsea Man' Reveals Work of Bronze Age's Top Brain Surgeons
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.