Another site for more study
Brain surgery is perhaps the oldest of the practiced medical arts. No hard evidence exists suggesting a beginning to the practice of other facets of
medicine such as pharmacology -- using drugs, chemical and natural ingredients to help a fellow human being. There is ample evidence, however, of
brain surgery, dating back to the Neolithic (late Stone Age) period.
Unearthed remains of successful brain operations, as well as surgical implements, were found in France-- at one of Europe's noted archeological
And, the success rate was remarkable, even circa 7,000 B.C.
But, pre-historic evidence of brain surgery was not limited to Europe. Pre-Incan civilization used brain surgery as an extensive practice as early as
2,000 B.C. In Paracas, Peru, a desert strip south of Lima, archeologic evidence indicates that brain surgery was used extensively. Here, too, an
inordinate success rate was noted as patients were restored to health. The treatment was used for mental illnesses, epilepsy, headaches, organic
diseases, osteomylitis, as well as head injuries.
Brain surgery was also used for both spiritual and magical reasons; often, the practice was limited to kings, priests and the nobility.
Surgical tools in South America were made of both bronze and man-shaped obsidian (a hard, sharp-edged volcanic rock).
Africa showed evidence of brain surgery as early as 3,000 B.C. in papyrus writings found in Egypt. "Brain," the actual word itself, is used here for
the first time in any language. Egyptian knowledge of anatomy may have been rudimentary, but the ancient civilization did contribute important
notations on the nervous system.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medical ethics, left many texts on brain surgery. Born on the Aegean Island of Cos in 470 B.C., Hippocrates was
quite familiar with the clinical signs of head injuries. He also described seizures accurately, as well as spasms and classified head contusions,
fractures and depressions. Many concepts found in his texts were still in good stead two thousand years after his death in 360 B.C.
Ancient Rome in the first century A.D. had its brain surgeon star, Aulus Cornelius Celsus. Hippocrates did not operate on depressed skull fractures;
Celsus often did. Celsus also described the symptoms of brain injury in great detail.
history of brain surgery