Researchers uncovered what may be the earliest traces of brain surgery at an ancient archaeological site in Israel, details of which were published Wednesday.
The remains of two young adult brothers displaying uncommon morphological variants were uncovered beneath the floor of an elite early Late Bronze Age residence in the center of Tel Megiddo, in modern-day Israel, according to a study published in PLOS One. The relationship between the two boys was uncovered using DNA analysis, and the morphological issues appear to be related to development conditions and chronic infectious disease.
One brother had a healed fracture on his nose, but also had a large square of bone removed from his skull, assumed to be done through the practice of cranial trephination, the study authors argued. From a broader analysis of the region, the authors believe that both brothers had the financial means of treating and possibly surviving the wide-spread infectious diseases in the region.
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As trephination is considered to be a rarity throughout archaeological finds in the region, it can be assumed that the societal makeup at the time only allowed for certain individuals to indulge in the surgery.
However, both brothers were buried with the same rites as others throughout the region, suggesting at least a shared religious or tradition-based practice. (RELATED: Ancient Fossil Unearthed Near Downtown Kansas City, Missouri)
The discovery comes amid a number of international finds that researchers argue to be the oldest of their kind. The oldest known hunting weapon in the Americas was uncovered in early February. A 1.2 million-year-old factory was found in Ethiopia in 2022, thought to be one of the first ever in our species history.