- Time Period: 5,000 B.C. to 1800s
Trepanning began simple enough, as did many old medical treatments. This happens to be the oldest known surgery humans performed on one another. In fact, it is such an old procedure that it has been traced back to 7,000 years ago in some of the earliest known civilizations. The procedure involves boring or essentially drilling a hole in the skull. Initially, the idea was that you could let any build-up of pressure out this way or even potentially evil spirits that have gathered in there.
It was widely assumed that spirits were the ones behind any mental illnesses or disorders. Some done in Peru were performed for emergency needs. People might be involved in war and could have skull fractures from it. To remove excess bone fragments, trepanation would be done. However, the most common reason was the assumption it could stop migraines, epilepsy, abscesses, blood clots, and much more. It didn’t help at all, and many even died from the surgery.