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(MSNBC)   Evidence of oldest brain surgery in colonial America (circa 1610) uncovered at Jamestown (with skull pic)   (msnbc.msn.com) divider line 43
    More: Spiffy  
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16885 clicks; posted to Main » on 01 Dec 2004 at 11:27 PM (10 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



43 Comments   (+0 »)
   

Archived thread
 
2004-12-01 06:56:16 PM  
Mr Gumby had an ancestor in the colonies?
 
2004-12-01 07:59:33 PM  
psst... that's just a old timey drill press accident.
 
2004-12-01 08:01:23 PM  
Ow...
 
2004-12-01 09:35:45 PM  
The surgeon tried to drill two holes in the skull using a device known as a trepan tool that would remove a plug of bone, Straube said. It looks like the surgeon made two attempts at one spot and then moved to a second spot, Straube said.

My daddy says measure twice, drill once.
 
2004-12-01 09:38:07 PM  
Phineas Gage had no comment.
 
2004-12-01 11:31:29 PM  
The Spatula mundani, devised by 17th-century surgeon John Woodall, was used to treat severe constipation.

Well, I for one am glad they gave us that bit of information.
 
2004-12-01 11:32:35 PM  
Huh. A spatula to relieve constipation? And I've been using exlax all along...
 
2004-12-01 11:33:50 PM  
Bah...the mayans and egyptians did this stuff way before the colonial americans.
 
2004-12-01 11:37:35 PM  
What bulldg4life said
 
2004-12-01 11:38:48 PM  
Well, that had to hurt.
 
2004-12-01 11:40:07 PM  
Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy does not approve.

"What is this, the Middle Ages"?

1600's. Close enough.
 
2004-12-01 11:41:21 PM  
It was hatchet surgery from a native of the Trepa Nation.



/bad taste?
 
2004-12-01 11:42:55 PM  
Was it trepanning?

/didn't rtfa
 
2004-12-01 11:44:39 PM  
No, you people have it all wrong. This is botched hardcore 1600s body modding.
 
2004-12-01 11:45:39 PM  
That guy needed brain surgery like he needed a hole in...uh...er, never mind.
 
2004-12-01 11:45:45 PM  
12inpianist:

Yes, bad taste - but funny.

I was a TA for Dr. McKeown last year - glad to see that she's in the news, sort of.
 
2004-12-01 11:45:53 PM  
Old story. As usual, Fark finally catches up to it.
 
2004-12-01 11:52:18 PM  
My wife worked for the Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation. She gave tours to the kids groups that came through. She had to sit with them and make fishhooks, arrowheads, spoons, etc, show how to prepare deer hide, start fires with flint, and demonstrate how flintlock weaponry worked (all of which she was taught).

One of the hottest chicks in the world was a Powhatan native that ironically doubled as Pocahontas at Jamestown. She'd wander around and mingle with the kids like the other period reenactors. I swear her hair was arrow straight and 3 feet of golden brown perfection, smooth dark tan, well built...she'd pitch your teepee on sight!
 
2004-12-02 12:00:23 AM  
JOEKC,
The APVA just press released this story at 9 this morning (12/1). I'm not sure how that qualifies as "old news." True, the skull was discovered over the summer, but the story just broke.
 
2004-12-02 12:03:35 AM  
One of the oldest medical cures....

[image from thediagram.com too old to be available]
 
2004-12-02 12:05:39 AM  
The Spatula mundani, devised by 17th-century surgeon John Woodall, was used to treat severe constipation.

Yikes - that can't feel wonderful - at all. Where can a guy get a spatula mudani anyway?

/Not into anal probing per se, but love a good spatula mudani session from time to time
 
2004-12-02 12:12:03 AM  
spatula mundani
[image from apva.org too old to be available]
The "spoon" end of the instrument was to be used to withdraw the "hard excrements" whereas the spatula end was probably for stirring preparations and for applying ointments and plasters.
 
2004-12-02 12:17:09 AM  
The paitent was Dubya's ancestor...hence...Dubya.
 
2004-12-02 12:21:40 AM  
This just in -

Evidence of oldest serial killer in colonial America...Police on the lookout for a brain with crescent shaped holes..

/sorry, got next to nuthin'
 
2004-12-02 12:28:54 AM  
Look inside and you will see
The words are cutting deep inside my brain
Thunder burning, quickly burning
Knife of words is driving me insane, insane yeah

Raven black is on my track
He shows me how to neutralize the knife
Show to me in surgery
The art of fighting words to conquer life, conquer life yeah

Now the wicked lance of fear
Is driving from my heady mountain brain
Crash course in brain surgery
Has stopped the bloody knife of words again yeah, yeah, yeah
 
2004-12-02 12:31:39 AM  
Trepan \Tre*pan"\, v. t. & i. [imp. & p. p. Trepanned; p. pr. & vb. n. Trepanning.] [Cf. F. tr['e]paner. See Trepan a saw.] (Surg.) To perforate (the skull) with a trepan, so as to remove a portion of the bone, and thus relieve the brain from pressure or irritation; to perform an operation with the trepan.

This was hardly high tech, even for their day. Trepanning has been around for a couple thousand years, at least. Although that definition seems a bit odd, I'm not sure they went around drilling holes in people's skulls for brain "irritation."
 
2004-12-02 12:32:44 AM  
oldest in the american english colonies.. not oldest in the world.. even neanderthals took care of their injured and reset broken bones... old news or new news this is a rather lame article... its about as interesting as "first piece of string in colonial america found"..
 
2004-12-02 12:37:57 AM  
Hmmmm, I didn't realize that the Jamestown colonists had their brains *in* their skulls....not just contained within the volume of the cranium, but actually integrated within the bone itself.

Circular cut marks indicate someone attempted to drill two holes in the skull to relieve pressure on the brain

Or substitute ANY guess of your own - who needs evidence to make a claim?

Owsley thinks the man was hit in the back of the head with a stone ax and suffered a fractured skull.

I think intelligent life forms from another galaxy came to earth and hit him with a rock. If we are going to wildly speculate, let's at least make it interesting.

Researchers know the fragment came from a European man because of its shape and thickness and because it contained traces of lead, Straube said. Eating and drinking from lead-glazed pottery or pewter was a common practice in Europe.

And, as everyone knows, there is no source of lead other than pottery and pewter.

The identities of the man and of his surgeon are not known. The rest of the skeleton has not been found.

I know who they are. I have the rest of the skeleton.

The surgeon tried to drill two holes in the skull using a device known as a trepan tool that would remove a plug of bone, Straube said.

Or equally plausible is that it was made with some other drilling device.

Such surgery was not unusual it was done in ancient Egypt, for example

Yes, the criteria for whether something is usual or not is generally considered to be that it has taken place in several locations. For example, people have set themselves on fire in many countries, therefore setting one's self on fire is considered perfectly ordinary. Any more, when someone see another person set himself on fire, he just looks over and say, "It's been done".

In the Jamestown case, the procedure was not completed, probably because the patient died.

Yup, I calculate that the procedure was not completed because:

Patient died: 68%
Indian attack interrupted: 25%
Meteorite impact interrupted: 4%
Other sources (each less than 1%): 2%

...so it is true that it was probably because the patient died.

In summary, when trying to describe specific chains of events from nearly 400 years ago, say anything you want, because nobody can prove otherwise. Just be sure to give it that scientific feeling by using words like "likely", and "probable".
 
2004-12-02 12:48:43 AM  
Was this followed my North America's first lawsuit? Or did they toss the lawyers overboard on the way over?
 
2004-12-02 12:51:42 AM  
Hey, I had brain surgery! I can relate to this!

Doesn't make it any more interesting though.
 
2004-12-02 01:12:11 AM  
Unsuccessful brain surgery. Noble attempt anyway, I guess.
 
2004-12-02 01:12:17 AM  
Brockway

Or equally plausible is that it was made with some other drilling device.


Man, you really don't like deductive reasoning, do you?

1) The skull shows evidence of blunt trauma to the back of the head.
2) A relatively well known procedure in the cases of head trauma was trepanation.
3) This man has markings on the skull consistent with three attempts at trepanation.

It's not like the deduction is a huge leap of faith here.

And re: the lead thing -- what sources of lead do you think a native would have been ingesting on a regular enough basis to deposit in the bone?
 
2004-12-02 01:22:18 AM  
Jamestown High School '03 thats right =D
 
2004-12-02 02:43:15 AM  
Wasn't that the time when they thought the brain was the heart?
 
2004-12-02 03:26:16 AM  
Neanderthal man did trepanning.
 
2004-12-02 04:14:43 AM  
Not only did neanderthal man practice trepanation, but also with far more success than just about anyone up until the mid 20th century.

/infection
 
2004-12-02 08:19:17 AM  
[image from mwscomp.com too old to be available]
MY BRAIN HURTS
 
2004-12-02 08:59:40 AM  
ha!
the vikings performed battle axe trepanations in north america more than 500 years before jamestown was even founded.

but of course it was called vineland by then
 
2004-12-02 09:17:22 AM  
Tekjock you have to say it like this:

Me brine urts.
 
2004-12-02 02:18:59 PM  
Brockway:

In summary, when trying to describe specific chains of events from nearly 400 years ago, say anything you want, because nobody can prove otherwise. Just be sure to give it that scientific feeling by using words like "likely", and "probable".

How true.

Most historians are little better than poorly-trained folklorists. Most scientists are merely devotees of the religion taught at colleges.

Real historical research requires meticulous separation of facts (there are holes & circular injuries on the skull piece...) and speculation (... which might have been byproducts of surgery.)

Real science involves skepticism, even about one's own firmly held beliefs.

Let's have a little thinking for a change... whoops, too hard. Let's write press releases instead!
 
2004-12-02 07:20:50 PM  
Speaking as a Viking descendant, I love Indian food. Not so sure about the 'trepanning'.

Chicken Tikka Masala Balti for me.

And a battleaxe. Could sure do a bit of 'brain surgery' with one of those.
 
2004-12-02 10:47:51 PM  
One look at some of the things they used to treat constipation and you'd shiat yourself anyhow.
Medical arts actually went down in effectiveness from the Middle Ages until about the Crimean war. An injured man-at-arms in the army of the Black Prince, being treated at a monastery had far more chance of recovery than a soldier in the British army in the Crimea. To top things off, along with still no real germ theory in the 1850's doctors had a whole new pile of chemicals to fool around with. "Constipation? Let's try these mercury tablets..."
 
2004-12-05 12:17:32 AM  
Sum Dum Gai:

Man, you really don't like deductive reasoning, do you?

1) The skull shows evidence of blunt trauma to the back of the head.
2) A relatively well known procedure in the cases of head trauma was trepanation.
3) This man has markings on the skull consistent with three attempts at trepanation.

It's not like the deduction is a huge leap of faith here.


This is not deduction, it is speculation. Any device that could be used to drill a hole through bone would yield marks consistent with trapanation, including a zero mechanical advantage hand-held circular metal bit. This is like arguing that it is deductive reasoning to say that a the skull fracture was caused by a rock because the fracture yields marks consistent with a rock. Yeah, or anything else in the entire FARKing universe that is hard.

And re: the lead thing -- what sources of lead do you think a native would have been ingesting on a regular enough basis to deposit in the bone?


I think this is the whole point. I don't know. It would seem that the whole notion of "I don't know" has occurred to neither you nor the article writer.

/scientists determined that the man was european, and that his favorite color was green, and that were he alive today, he would be taking a crap right now
 
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