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|Wednesday, June 27, 2001, updated at 08:51(GMT+8)|
Successful Brain Operation in China 5,000 Years AgoArcheologists and surgeons said Tuesday in China a successful brain operation was conducted as early as 5,000 years ago, which they described as the earliest in the Pacific rim and East Asia.
They based their conclusion on a human skull unearthed in 1995 in the relics of the Dawenkou culture, which lasted about 1,500 years since 6,100 years ago.
Han Kangxin, an archeologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, archeological evidence on similar ancient human brain operations has also been found elsewhere in the world, including Europe, Asia, the Americas and Oceania.
The earliest human brain operation is believed to be conducted about 7,000 years ago in Europe, said Han.
The skull was unearthed about six years ago in Shandong province by experts with Shandong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology at Fujia, a village in Guangrao County in Shandong Province.
Archeologists found a hole, 3.1 centimeters by 2.5 centimeters, on the right part of the top back of the skull, which is believed to be that of an adult male.
Using medical technology, including X-ray film, computerized tomographic scanning and three-dimensional image reconstruction, medical experts found traces of artificial scratches by sharp tools.
Professor Bao Xiufeng, a surgeon with Qilu Hospital affiliated with Shandong University, described them as clearly traces of a medical operation on the skull.
Wu Xinzhi, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an archeologist, said the circular arc on the edge of the hole was something grown naturally, which was only made possible after a very fine modification and bone tissue repair.
"That indicates the owner of the skull survived the operation for a long period of time, therefore, thus the prehistoric operation was successful."
Yan Wenming, vice-president of Archeological Society of China and a researcher with the prestigious Peking University, said coffin and funerary objects were found in the tomb where the skull was unearthed, signs of a natural burial.
"It shows the person was operated on the skull after he had fallen ill, and survived the operation for a long period of time," said Yan.
Using radiocarbon age dating technique, archeologists conclude the tomb was built about 5,000 to 5,200 years ago.
But experts are not clear about the reason for the skull operation.
Professor Zhang Zhongpei, former president of the Beijing Palace Museum, said, "It displayed the intelligence and creativity of our forefathers as they were able to conduct such an exquisite surgical operation in such remote age."
"It also opened a new chapter in the history of the Chinese medicine," he said.
According to historical novels, China's famous ancient surgeon, Hua Tuo, offered to do a skull operation on Cao Cao, the de-facto ruler of the Wei Dynasty (220-265).
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