The first documented case of trepanation from Tarija, Bolivia, ca. 650 C.E.

Sara L. Juengst, Jose Mariano Capriles Flores, Daniela Velasco Arzabe, Sergio Calla Maldonado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Trepanation has been practised in the Andes since 400–200 B.C.E., with numerous examples documented across Peru and Northern Bolivia (Tello,; Verano,). This practice appears to have been widespread across these areas; however, other parts of the Andes, such as Northwest Argentina, Chile, and Southern Bolivia, have not yet produced examples of cranial surgery, with the exception of one possible example from Northwest Argentina (Seldes & Botta,). We present evidence for trepanation from a ca. 650 cal. C.E. burial from a salvage excavation near Tarija, Bolivia. We found that this probable male, adult individual had two blunt force traumatic lesions on the cranium. In addition, there was a rounded perforation on the right posterior skull that showed external bevelling and rounded edges consistent with a healed trepanation. We suggest that this case implies that trepanation was more widely practised than previously understood. Additionally, the correlation between trepanation and blunt force trauma suggests that this surgery was likely performed as a medical procedure, rather than for strictly ritual purposes. Thus, this is an important contribution to the broadening literature on pre-Hispanic trepanation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-154
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

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Bolivia
Argentina
surgery
Peru
Chile
funeral
trauma
religious behavior
evidence
Trepanation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology

Cite this

Juengst, Sara L. ; Capriles Flores, Jose Mariano ; Velasco Arzabe, Daniela ; Calla Maldonado, Sergio. / The first documented case of trepanation from Tarija, Bolivia, ca. 650 C.E. In: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. 2019 ; Vol. 29, No. 1. pp. 149-154.
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The first documented case of trepanation from Tarija, Bolivia, ca. 650 C.E. / Juengst, Sara L.; Capriles Flores, Jose Mariano; Velasco Arzabe, Daniela; Calla Maldonado, Sergio.

In: International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Vol. 29, No. 1, 01.01.2019, p. 149-154.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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