26 May 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

On a 5,300-year-old skull, archaeologists find evidence of the first known ear surgery

Humans may have begun performing ear surgery more than 5,000 years ago, say Spanish archaeologists.

Spanish researchers say the skull they found in a Spanish tomb, with seven cut marks found near the left ear canal, is an indication that a person with “anatomical knowledge” performed a primitive surgical procedure to relieve possible ear pain.

“These evidences point to a mastoidectomy, a surgical procedure possibly performed to relieve the pain this prehistoric individual may have suffered as a result of otitis media and mastoiditis,” the Spanish researchers concluded in an article released on Tuesday in Scientific Reports.

The skull, which according to the study belonged to an elderly lady, was discovered with other human remains of over 100 persons in a massive, single-chamber, multi-phase tomb dating from the late Neolithic era known as the Dolmen of El Pendón in Reinoso, Burgos, Spain, in 2018.

Manuel Rojo-Guerra of the Department of Prehistory and Archaeology at the University of Valladolid, who together with colleagues Sonia Díaz-Navarro and Cristina Tejedor-Rodríguez have been excavating the site since 2016.

Set of cut marks identified on the left temporal bone of the skull. Side view of the left side of the skull (a), detail of the left temporal bone with the ear surgery (b), and enlarged image of the cut marks made in the left ear next to the surgical procedure (c). (Photo: Scientific Reports)

The skull showed evidence of two perforations on both sides of the skull near its mastoid bones, which indicates that the surgery attempted to relieve growing pressure in the ear canal.

It is unknown if the procedures were carried out at the same time, or during separate occasions, they said, but specific bone growth around the area indicates that the woman survived both procedures.

“Given the chronology of this dolmen, this find would be the earliest surgical ear intervention in the history of mankind,” the researchers said in their report.

Rojo-Guerra said the additional discovery in the tomb of a flint blade with traces of having cut bone and having been reheated several times at between 300-350 degrees leads them to propose that it was used as a cauterization surgical instrument for the procedure.

Doctors at the University Hospital of the University of Valladolid confirmed that the procedure would have been very similar to surgical interventions that are still performed today to eliminate middle ear infections, he said.

Related Articles

Norwegian couple found a Viking Age Grave And Sword in their garden

3 July 2023

3 July 2023

While trying to expand their home, a Norwegian couple found a Viking Age grave and sword in their garden. It’s...

Early Female Emperors in Japan “Empress Kōken”

2 July 2021

2 July 2021

Born into the aristocratic Fujiwara clan, this extraordinary woman first ascended to the throne as Empress Kōken and became the...

Roman boat that sank in Mediterranean 1,700 years ago is giving up its archaeological, historical, and gastronomic secrets

8 March 2022

8 March 2022

The merchant vessel, probably at anchor in the Bay of Palma while en route from south-west Spain to Italy, One...

Archaeologists Discover Prehistoric Irish Monuments That May Have Been ‘Routes For The Dead’

27 April 2024

27 April 2024

Traces of hundreds of monuments, which were previously unknown, have been identified in an archaeological survey in Ireland. Five of...

New fortification walls discovered in the ancient city of Pergamon

14 February 2022

14 February 2022

2,500-year-old fortification walls were found in the Ancient City of Pergamon (Bergama), which was included in the World Heritage List...

Rare textiles and dwellings discovered in the submerged Neolithic settlement near Rome

6 June 2023

6 June 2023

Underwater archaeologists have discovered rare, well-preserved textiles, basketry, and cordage from the early Neolithic period in an area near Rome,...

1900 years old funerary altar of a teenage girl discovered in Rome

9 May 2022

9 May 2022

A funerary altar indicating the location of the remains of Valeria, a 13-year-old girl who died in the 2nd century...

Archeological study shows unearthed Byzantine warrior had gold-threaded jaw

30 September 2021

30 September 2021

A Byzantine warrior who was beheaded after the Ottomans captured his fort in the 14th century had a jaw threaded...

In Peru, Archaeologists Discovered an Ancient Dance Floor that can Imitate Rumbling of Thunder

21 July 2023

21 July 2023

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient “sounding” dance floor in Peru that was designed to create a drum-like sound when stepped...

Authorities in New York have been accused by leading academics of repatriating fake Roman artifacts to Lebanon

19 November 2023

19 November 2023

Leading academics from France and the United Kingdom have accused New York authorities of returning fake Roman artifacts to Lebanon....

The Entire Genome Of 35,000-Year-Old Skull From Romania Sequenced “Peştera Muierii 1”

24 May 2021

24 May 2021

Researchers have successfully sequenced the whole genome from the skull of Peştera Muierii 1, women who lived in today’s Romania...

Aldi construction uncovered Roman mosaic in UK

18 March 2023

18 March 2023

A team of Oxford Archaeology archaeologists discovered a Roman mosaic in the market town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, England. Ahead of...

China exhibits 2,000-year-old artifacts discovered in Guangzhou

12 August 2021

12 August 2021

On August 10, the National Museum of China launched an exhibition featuring archaeological finds from ancient China’s Qin (221–207 BC)...

An 8,000-year-old number stone found in Yeşilova Mound

27 July 2023

27 July 2023

The 8,000-year-old numeral stone, which is thought to have been used while calculating during the Yeşilova Höyük (Yeşilova Mound) excavation...

In Egypt, archaeologists have discovered a 4,500-year-old Sun temple.

16 November 2021

16 November 2021

Archaeologists discovered an ancient Sun temple in the Egyptian desert that dates back 4,500 years. The remains were discovered under...