• ancient Anatolia;
  • ancient surgery;
  • neurosurgery;
  • paleopathology;
  • Turkey


In this study, trepanations in ancient Anatolia were discussed from a historical perspective. Trepanations were studied in respect to temporal and spatial distribution, sex and age distribution, techniques and reasons, completeness, healing and number of holes. Forty individuals from 23 different Anatolian settlements are identified to have undergone trepanations. Cranial trepanations in Anatolia show a distribution over a period of 10 000 years ranging from the Aceramic Neolithic period to the Late Ottoman period and spread to whole Anatolia. The greater majority of the individuals had single trepanation orifices while only four individuals were identified with multiple holes. It is observed that the surgical procedure was predominantly carried out on males in Anatolia. Main techniques of trepanations used in Anatolia are drilling and cutting. Early cases of trepanation were made by drilling; however, this technique has been used for cranial surgery until the Ottoman period. Scraping and rectangular sawing techniques first applied in the Early Bronze Age. The boring-and-cutting technique was only applied in the Iron Age. More than half of the trepanations practiced due to cranial trauma. Training and treatment besides of cranial trauma are also considered as likely causes of trepanations in Anatolia. It is concluded that trepanation techniques are similar to South America and the Mediterranean region rather than Europe. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.