Surviving Trepanation: Approaching the Relationship of Violence and the Care of "War Wounds" through a Case Study from Prehistoric Peru
The political instability that characterizes the early Late Intermediate Period (ca. AD 1000—1250) in Andean prehistory had widespread impacts on how people lived, ranging from changes in settlement patterns to an increase in skeletal trauma and infectious disease. This paper explores the social experiences of violence and its implications for healthcare, primarily through the analysis of a notable case study: a young male from Andahuaylas, Peru, whose skeleton evinces multiple lesions and fractures, post-traumatic impaired mobility, and healed trepanations. Trepanation, in particular, is a clear indicator of medical intervention, but is still just one step in the larger process of care and recovery. Using modern clinical literature, it is possible to approximate the physical impacts of trauma, surgery, and rehabilitation, and address the logic of treatment during this time. More generally, we address the accommodations afflicted individuals would need to convalesce and survive in a high-altitude fortified settlement. Results demonstrate the underlying role violence played in generating novel healthcare practices and reifying new social categories in the ancient Andes. Ultimately, such data can inform on the nuances of social organization required for such intensive care and the respective social experiences of disease and violent injury in the past.
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Surviving Trepanation: Approaching the Relationship of Violence and the Care of "War Wounds" through a Case Study from Prehistoric Peru. Sarah Jolly, Danielle Kurin. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395737)
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