Do people really drill holes in their heads? (Smithsonian/Thinkstock)
Do people really drill holes in their heads?
Lexile

You asked us, "Do people really drill holes in their heads?"
 
Yes, apparently, they do. 
 
It's called trephination or trepanning, and it's often said to be the oldest form of surgery we have evidence for, as trepanning goes back at least 8,500 years.
 
When archaeologists discovered a bunch of stone age skulls in France, they were startled to find that 40 out of 120 of them had holes in them, and many of those skulls showed signs of healing, meaning the patients survived. 
 
It turns out that trepanning was once pretty widespread. 
 
In fact, the ancient Inca in South America practiced it for hundreds of years, and eventually attained a 90 percent survival rate. 
 
In the Middle Ages, in Europe, people had holes drilled in their heads to relieve headaches and insanity. 
 
If you have migraines, you might understand the impulse to drill into your skull, but it's definitely something you don't want to do at home.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did ancient people drill holes in their heads?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (30)
  • sidneyh5-pla
    2/10/2016 - 04:11 p.m.

    About 8,500 years ago, people would drill holes into their heads. It seems like a worldwide happening because the Inca did this and had a 90% survival rating, and the Middle Ages also did this to relieve headaches and insanity. If I needed to have my head drilled in every time I got a headache or did something that seemed insane, I probably wouldn't have a head left!

  • markm-3-bar
    2/11/2016 - 01:43 a.m.

    Drilling holes in your head would help migraines or big head aches go away apparently. It really surprises me that they did that way back then because I wouldn't think they would be that advanced or smart. And there was a 90% survival rate which I think is crazy. I liked this article because I never really thought about this until now that I realize they did do these things back in the days.

  • chyannap-tuc
    2/11/2016 - 10:57 a.m.

    It's really creepy to think that people drill holes in their heads.In the passage said the did to releave haedaches and insanity.I think it's insanity that someone would do that to themself.

  • erino-6-bar
    2/11/2016 - 11:54 p.m.

    Ancient people drilled holes in their heads to "relieve headaches and insanity." There was also a 90 percent survival rate which means it was not as dangerous as it may seem to be.

    I think it's crazy that as far back as 8,500 years ago people would be able to drill into a person's head and most likely have them survive it.

  • noahf-3-bar
    2/12/2016 - 01:54 a.m.

    Ancient people drilled holes into their heads as it supposedly relieves headaches, migraines, and insanity. When archaeologists found stone-age skulls in france they saw that 33% of the skulls they found had holes drilled into them.

    What I found interesting about this article is that the survival rate for drilling a hole into your head was 90% for people in ancient Inca. In france archaeologists found that there was signs of healing in the skulls with holes drilled into them meaning they survived getting a hole drilled into their skulls.

  • tristans5-pla
    2/12/2016 - 01:16 p.m.

    It is amazing that this procedure was performed 8,500 years ago. I get really bad head aches sometimes and I wish someone would drill a hole in my head.

  • jackt5-pla
    2/14/2016 - 12:01 p.m.

    In ancient times physicians would drill holes into the skull to relieve head aches and migraines or cure insanity. This procedure was called trephination or trepanning. Surprisingly, there was a 90 percent success rate.
    I find this interesting because of how odd or counterproductive this procedure would be found today even though it was so successful in ancient times. This article also appeals to me because I am interested in science and biology and learning about how techniques of the past compare to techniques of today.

  • kaleyw5-pla
    2/15/2016 - 06:57 p.m.

    When you first hear that drilling a hole in your head may relieve a headache, you might think they are crazy, or that it is merely an exageration of what they atually did. However this was infact what they did. About 8,500 years ago this was a technique used to relieve headaches and insanity. It was the first form of surgery known to man, called trepanning. Scientists thought it was very strange to find large holes in the sculls they were finding but it was atually something a lot of people used. And oddly enough people actually survived from it! The Incas actually got it up to a 90% servival rate. Although it might have cured headaches and insanity, the idea of drilling a hole in your head sounds like insanity to me!

  • jasonb-pel
    2/18/2016 - 01:17 p.m.

    People drilled holes in their heads so they could relive the pain of headaches.

  • jahir-orv
    2/19/2016 - 02:42 p.m.

    Well I don't know how headaches went away when there is a hole DRILLED into your head, but okay. 8,500 years ago they did it and i wonder if it actually worked. The article said it could relieve insanity... but really what sane person would drill a hole into their own head.

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