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

Assign to Google Classroom

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.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 70 times
Why did ancient people drill holes in their heads?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • cadens6th-you
    3/10/2016 - 10:38 a.m.

    This artical is very nice and cool. I like that when you have a migran you just drill a hole in to your head and showed relief to some people in the stone age

  • julient-lam
    3/11/2016 - 10:45 a.m.

    I think that drilling a hole in someone's head is crazy. So many bad things can result from this for instance, bacteria in your brain and death. Did the holes drilled in the Inca's heads work?

  • jadeng-edg
    6/10/2016 - 04:00 p.m.

    to make headaches go away and migranes and insanity

  • izaacb-edg
    6/10/2016 - 04:00 p.m.

    to relieve headaches and migranes

  • julietr-edg
    6/10/2016 - 04:01 p.m.

    This is crazy, I would never let anybody come near my head with a drill.

  • moniqueh-edg
    6/10/2016 - 04:02 p.m.

    i don't really see how drilling holes in the head made sense to take away a head ache, it seems like it would make it worse

  • alexb-edg
    6/10/2016 - 04:02 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.

  • gabrielp-edg
    6/10/2016 - 04:07 p.m.

    Drill holes in your head ? thats crazy

  • hannaha-edg
    6/10/2016 - 04:09 p.m.

    to release headaches

  • martham-edg
    6/10/2016 - 04:15 p.m.

    People back then were pretty extreme. Like they were quite crazy.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment