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Trepanation | by Travis S.
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Trepanation

This is one of many skulls found in Monte Alban. This one, however, was subjected to cranial deformation. This probably led to issues later in life that led to this surgical trepanation. Note all the drill holes, possibly to relieve the pressure on the brain from having a modified skull.

 

The sign for explaining this particular skull is in Spanish. A rough translation reads:

 

Intentional cranial deformation was practiced among children, forever being marked. This could be done in two ways: a type of "erect tabular" achieved by pressing the frontal and occipital portions of the skull together with two tabular boards; the other is done with a tight band around the frontal and parietal portions of the skull creating a conical effect.

 

Monte Alban is the only major center known in Prehispanic Mesoamerica where trepanation was done. There have been cases of trepanation found in more than 20 burials in the Epoch IIIB-IV. The individuals were worked on surgically using drilling techniques, cutting or scraping the bone to perforate the skull, probably with the intent of curing an infection, as the skull shows signs of skull modification by disease and trepanation.

 

Dental mutilation was practiced with fine aesthetics, in young people around the ages of 20 to 25. This includes several types of incisions and cuts on the edges of the teeth. Some clay figurines show the same patterns of mutilation. There was also the practice of inlaying magnetite or jade into the teeth by drilling holes into the incisors.

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Taken on December 24, 2008