3 March 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

The 1,000-year-old surgical kit found in Sican tomb, Peru

A set of surgical tools indicating that the deceased was a surgeon was found in a funerary bundle found in a Sicán culture tomb in Lambayeque, Peru.

The tomb is from the Middle Sicán period (900-1050 AD) at the Huaca Las Ventanas archaeological site. This is the first such find ever made in Lambayeque or in northern Peru.

This surgeon contained in his grave various knives, needles and tumis, and was buried in a lotus flower position, sitting cross-legged.

This was discovered by a group of archaeologists in a ceremonial temple in the north, as the researchers reported. The discovery occurred at the end of 2021 at the Las Ventanas mausoleum temple, in the Pómac Forest Historical Sanctuary, in the Lambayeque region, about 800 km north of Lima.

The tomb contained a golden mask with feathered eyes, a large bronze breastplate and other objects that speak of the status of the ancient character, who was buried in a lotus flower position, sitting cross-legged.

Instrumental recovered from the tomb. Photo: AFP

The surgical kit was of particular interest to archaeologists. It is large, containing a full set of awls, needles and knives of various sizes and configurations. There are about 50 knives in total, some with a single cutting edge. Most are a bronze alloy with high arsenic content. Some have wooden handles. There is also a tumi, a ceremonial knife with a half-moon blade. By the tumi was a metal planchette with a symbol associated with surgical instruments. Two frontal bones, one adult and one juvenile, were found next to the planchette. Marks on the bones indicate they were deliberately cut with trepanation techniques. This confirmed that the tools were intended for use in surgery.

“The character was a specialist in cranial trepanations and his surgical instruments were oriented to everything that was human skull surgery,” said archaeologist Carlos Elera, director of the Sicán National Museum.

One of the pieces found in the tomb – AFP/SICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM
One of the pieces found in the tomb – AFP/SICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM

Archaeologists stressed that these findings have a resemblance to what the Paracas culture did, on the southern coast of Peru (700 BC and 200 AD), famous for trepanations. However, the tools are made of different materials, however. The blades in the Paracas set were made with sharpened volcanic obsidian.

A piece of bark from an unknown tree found in the tomb may have been used for medicinal purposes as an analgesic or anti-inflammatory infusion, in the same way that white willow bark basically makes aspirin tea.

“We are comparing the instruments of a modern surgeon with these objects, to see what similarities they have,” Elera said.

Related Articles

New mosaics unearthed in “Zeugma of the Black Sea”

3 October 2022

3 October 2022

New mosaics with various figures were unearthed during the ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Hadrianopolis, which is called...

‘Holy Grail of shipwrecks’ worth $20 billion in treasure to be raised from seabed

10 November 2023

10 November 2023

A treasure ship described as the “holy grail of shipwrecks” will reportedly be lifted from the sea floor where it...

A rare Saint George seal was found during excavations near Suzdal

27 June 2023

27 June 2023

The archaeological survey of the Suzdal Opole, initiated by the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences more...

Over 1,600-yr-old tomb of embracing lovers found in north China

16 August 2021

16 August 2021

Archaeologists recently published a study of the tomb of cuddling lovers, dating to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), more than...

46 Eagles in vivid color revealed on Ancient Egyptian temple ceiling

15 May 2022

15 May 2022

A joint German/Egyptian archaeological mission at the Temple of Esna on the west bank of the Nile, 35 miles south...

Archaeologists Find Ornate Roman Domūs in Nimes

25 February 2021

25 February 2021

Archaeologists conducting archaeological excavations in the French city of Nimes have discovered the remains of two high-status Roman domus (houses)....

The first Bull Geoglyph discovered in central Asia

29 September 2021

29 September 2021

Archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of History of Material Culture (IIMK RAS) and LLC Krasnoyarsk Geoarchaeology discovered...

Remains of 14th-century Synagogue thought to be one of largest in region discovered in Poland

14 August 2023

14 August 2023

The remains of what is thought to be a sizeable 14th-century synagogue complex, including a mikvah, have been discovered during...

The largest embalming cache ever found in Egypt unearthed at Abusir

10 February 2022

10 February 2022

Archaeologists from the Czech Institute for Egyptian Science have discovered a cache of artifacts related to the practice of Egyptian...

An Elamite inscription attributed to Xerxes the Great was found at Persepolis

26 February 2022

26 February 2022

During the classification and documentation project of inscribed objects and fragmentary inscriptions in the Persepolis Museum reserves, experts discovered a...

2800-year-old two Swords found in Germany from the start of the Iron Age

8 June 2022

8 June 2022

During archaeological excavations in preparation for the construction of the fire station in the Frieding district of Andechs in southern...

490-Million-Year-Old Trilobites Could Solve Ancient Geography Puzzle

22 November 2023

22 November 2023

The humble trilobites may be extinct, but even as fossils, they can teach us much about our planet’s history. Indeed,...

Ancient Synagogue found in Turkey’s popular tourist center Side

27 December 2021

27 December 2021

A 7th-century ancient synagogue has been found in Side, a resort town on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The synagogue found was...

4750-year-old Megalithic Stone Plaza Discovered in the High Andes of Peru

15 February 2024

15 February 2024

Two anthropology professors from the University of Wyoming have discovered a prehistoric plaza high in the Andes, known as Callacpuma...

“Mosaic of the Wine Harvest” mosaic to be exhibited in November in Turkey’s Hatay

26 October 2021

26 October 2021

The mosaic depicting the grape harvest, which is considered to date from the Late Roman period, equivalent to the 5th...