The face of a woman whose skull from 9,500 years ago showed evidence of the first brain surgery ever is being reconstructed as a wax model and going on display in Turkey.
The skull was unearthed in Asikli Hoyuk, a medium-sized mound which is located in the Turkish province of Aksaray and is believed to be the first village in Central Anatolia and Cappadocia dating back 10,400 years.
The process of drilling a surgical hole in the skull by primitive peoples is known as trepanation, with some debate as to why it was carried out.
Some anthropological evidence is available from trepanation is carried out in more recent times in primitive cultures in Polynesia and Africa suggested it was for medical reasons to ease pain caused by head injuries or a neurological disease.
Some of the skulls that have been operated on show injury that there was skull trauma which appear to confirm this might well have been the case.
Whether there are also some scholars that argue it was used to allow spirits into or out of the body, or as part of another ritual such as an initiation.
The skull that will now get a face was found in 1989 and has since been exhibited in the museum of Aksaray.
Now experts in Turkey and Germany are using 3D modelling techniques to develop a wax model of what the skull and the woman’s face looked like 9,500 years ago.
Professor Mihriban Ozbasaran, Istanbul University Faculty of Letters, Department of Prehistoric Archeology Lecturer and Asikli Hoyuk Excavation Head, said: “In the examinations at Hacettepe University, it was revealed that this skull was pierced in a meticulously performed surgery.”
She added: “The operation performed using obsidian drills and after the operation, the cells in the skull recovered suggesting the woman survived the operation.”
According to the professor: “Asikli Hoyuk is of great importance to the history of medicine.”
Yusuf Altin, the director of the Aksaray Museum, said that: “Two models of the skull will be recreated in Germany then shipped into Turkey where one will go on display Aksaray Museum and the other at the n Aksaray Science Center.”
Ozbasaran said she is extremely excited to meet this historic woman face to face in the near future.
It is currently not clear when the 3D modelling will be completed.