Archaeologists announced on Wednesday that they had discovered the tomb of a thousand-year-old pre-Inca surgeon in a temple in northern Peru.
“We have managed to excavate the tomb, which is more than a thousand years old, of a character that fulfilled the function of surgeon in the Sicanian culture,” archaeologist Carlos Elera told AFP. The discovery took place in late 2021 in the Las Ventanas Mausoleum Temple, located in the historic Bosque de Pomac Reserve, in the Lambayeque region, 800 km north of Lima.
“The character was a specialist in cranial trepanation, and his surgical instruments were intended for anything related to human skull surgery,” said Mr. Elera, director of the National Museum of Sican Culture.
The latter, also known as the Lambayeque culture, appeared around 700-750 AD. and lasted until 1375.
Knives, awls, needles …
In pre-Columbian Peru, trepanation was a common practice for eliminating hematomas or removing broken skull bones, probably during war-like clashes.
The funeral contained a gold mask, a large bronze chest piece and other objects that testify to the status of the buried, found by archaeologists sitting cross-legged. “In northern Peru, it is not normal to find this type of character,” Elera pointed out.
Among the surgical instruments were discovered tumis – knives with semicircular blades -, knives with wooden handles, awls and needles.
Archaeologists also found pieces of bark from an unidentified tree that may have been used as a painkiller. “We compare the instruments of a modern surgeon with these objects to see what their similarities are,” Elera explained.