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July 1, 1961


JAMA. 1961;176(13):1111. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040260045012

The largest extant collection of trephined skulls has been recovered from the burial grounds of the highland and coastal Indians of Peru. Many of the representative examples of more than 250 transfigured skulls that have been studied in the Peruvian collection are displayed in the National Archaeology Museum in Lima. Several were subjected to multiple trepanation. The procedure is beautifully illustrated in one of the paintings commissioned by Parke-Davis in "The Great Moments of Medicine" series. But the formidable practice of trepanation (Gr. trypanon borer) was not original with the ancient Indian civilizations of South America. Trephined skulls have been discovered in France and Great Britain which date to the Stone Age. Rogers1 assumed that the operation was performed as early as the Carnac Epoch of the Neolithic Period. The calvaria was attacked with flint instruments or shark's teeth, usually in the parietal region. Hippocrates described an instrument similar