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Cultural exchanges along the Ancient Silk Road—A Case of Cranial Trepanation from the Early Iron Age in Xinjiang, China

Author(s): Qun Zhang ; Quanchao Zhang ; Xiaofang Gao ; Tao Han ; Hong Zhu

Year: 2016

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Summary

This presentation reports a case of intentional trepanation along the ancient Silk Road in China from the Early Iron Age, with clear evidence of it being carried out by humans. Although trepanation has been widely performed in Eurasia, there are no definitive trepanation discoveries in western China dating from the Bronze Age. Microscopic observation and computed tomography scan were used to analyze the area of trepanation. With the observation of a three-dimensional deep-field microscope, the ridge of the opening was smooth and rounded in some parts. On the right section, new bone formation with a polyporous surface was observed, which showed previous osteoclast activity on the cut section under higher magnification. The CT scan imaging analysis confirmed the characteristic smooth, new growth of the bone on the edge of the lesion. No low-density diploë was exposed at the edges of the bone around the opening, most likely due to the process of osteogenesis and the growth of new bone tissue. Based on the analysis of the cultural background along the ancient Silk Road, the tradition of trepanation in Xinjiang may be related to a custom brought from Europe or western Asia.


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Cultural exchanges along the Ancient Silk Road—A Case of Cranial Trepanation from the Early Iron Age in Xinjiang, China. Qun Zhang, Quanchao Zhang, Xiaofang Gao, Tao Han, Hong Zhu. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405079)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia


Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America