Do people really drill holes in their heads? (Smithsonian/Thinkstock)
Do people really drill holes in their heads?
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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 (31)
  • janettef-pro
    2/22/2016 - 12:19 p.m.

    Ancient people drill holes in their heads because they wanted to releve headackes.

  • zackd-kut
    2/23/2016 - 11:46 a.m.

    I find it weird that they drill holes in their head just because of headaches, now we just can use medical items.

  • ethanw-pro
    3/03/2016 - 12:23 p.m.

    they did this because the inca had a 90% survival rating so they copied in their footsteps. hoping that theyd live longer as well.

  • madisenl-obr
    3/03/2016 - 01:26 p.m.

    Trepanning dated back quite a long time ago. In middle ages, many people drilled holes in their heads to relieve headaches and insanity. Ancient Inca in South America practiced it and had a 90% survival rate. Forty out of one hundred twenty skulls from France had holes in them and showed signs of healing, meaning before the person died, had healed a bit. If I got my head drilled, I'd go crazy thinking about the hole!

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    3/06/2016 - 04:24 p.m.

    Ancient people drilled holes in their heads to relieve headaches and insanity. It seems a little crazy, but at one point a 90 percent survival rate was reached.

  • dylanj-kut
    3/06/2016 - 10:05 p.m.

    In our generation, if we were to hear this without prior research, we would think this was false. This is probably because we are used to more "normal" medical treatments. The more fascinating thing is that this method did in fact help… Well, ninety percent of the time. We are fortunate that we have the type of medical supplies and technology that we do today. Back then anesthesia didn't exist. Anesthesia is a medical drug used to put patients to sleep before surgery. This reduces pain during surgery. Just imagine having your skull drilled open while you're awake, yikes! It's also interesting that people agreed to do take part in this treatment for something as small as a headache when they could've just wait for it to go away.

  • damianm6th-you
    3/10/2016 - 10:29 a.m.

    How would a person survive being drilled in their heads.

  • williams6th-you
    3/10/2016 - 10:29 a.m.

    Getting a hole in your head could be dangerous because it could damage the brain. Then you would be more insane than before. Yikes!

  • oweng6th-you
    3/10/2016 - 10:32 a.m.

    That is cool because I thought they would all die if their was a hole in their head.

  • sophiam6th-you
    3/10/2016 - 10:35 a.m.

    Ancient people drill holes in their heads to relieve headaches and insanity. It's called trephination and is said to be the oldest form of surgery.

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