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. 
 
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 (49)
  • charliet-orv
    2/10/2016 - 11:36 a.m.

    One reason I learned is that they did it for brain surgeries.

  • carsonk-2-bar
    2/10/2016 - 04:12 p.m.

    The ancient people drilled holes in their head because it relieved pain. "People had holes drilled in their heads to relieve headaches and insanity." This article surprised me because I would think that drilling holes in someone's head would make the pain worse instead of better. This article is interesting because of people drilling holes in their head.

  • ellans-1-bar
    2/10/2016 - 06:27 p.m.

    People drill holes in their heads to relieve headaches and insanity. IN paragraph 6 it states, " And many of those skulls showed signs of healing, meaning the patients survived. " This treament was a spread theroughout about 8,500 years ago. I think this article is interesting, because people will do dangerous and harsh things to make them feel better. I thought it would of killed them.

  • lucasl-3-bar
    2/10/2016 - 07:13 p.m.

    Ancient people drilled holes in their heads for reasons ranging from pain relief to treating mental illnesses, as stated by the articles. Such operations could actually be safe, depending on the skill of the doctors and technology at the time. Trephination, dealing with surgery in the skull and head, is shown in the article to be a unique way people solved complex neural problems. It is interesting how ancient peoples could perform such procedures. It is even more amazing how they could do so given the archaic technology they had been using.

  • sebastianr-6-bar
    2/10/2016 - 10:48 p.m.

    Ancient people had holes drilled in their heads because it relieved headaches and insanity. I think it is interesting that way back in the day somehow someone thought of the idea to drill into the head of another human just to get rid of a headache.

  • davidd-4-bar
    2/11/2016 - 12:36 a.m.

    Ancient people used to drill holes in their head because it could "relieve headaches and insanity." paragraph 9.
    And most of the people probably were not worried about considering it "eventually attained a 90 percent survival rate." paragraph8. I found this article interesting because I did not understand why someone would want a hole drilled in their head.

  • jacksonm-2-bar
    2/11/2016 - 10:11 a.m.

    Ancient people drilled holes in their head to relive migrains and insanity in some cases. The drilling started about 8500 to 10000 years ago. Surprisingly there was a 90% survival rate when they were done drilling.

    I thought this article was interesting because i didn't know that people drilled holes in their head and survived.

  • lexiec-tuc
    2/11/2016 - 10:56 a.m.

    they drilled holes in there head if they had a migraine or if they were insane. this story was very informative.

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

    I wouldn't want this to happen to me because we have medicine to help us. Back then they didn't have medicine to help so the ancient people drilled holes in their head to relieve headaches and insanity.

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

    i was wondring how did they survive because they had no painpills and they were awake when they drilled holes in there head must be painful

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