Cranial Trepanations in Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Xinjiang

Author(s): Dong Wei; Si Yang

Year: 2017


Trepanation is defined as the intentional removal of a piece of bone from the cranial vault of a living individual without penetration of the underlying soft tissues. In China, practicing trepanation can be traced back to the Neolithic, and it can still be found today in some populations in other parts of the world. Nine skulls with lesions from four Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age cemeteries (Yaer from Hami, Goukou from Jinghe, Yanghai from Tulufan, and Choumeigou from Changji) (4000BP–2000 BP) in Xinjiang were investigated macro- and microscopically. In conjunction with other information obtained through generation of bioarchaeological profiles of these skeletal assemblages, the aim of this study is to contextualize the observed trepanation cases with their archaeological settings and to explore their temporal and spatial distribution and social/cultural implications. Signs of new bone deposition, implying the short or long-term survival of all individuals after the operation, may indicate that during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages in Xinjiang trepanation had been a well-practiced procedure, in turn supporting the suggestion of its importance as a therapeutic method in these ancient peoples.

Cite this Record

Cranial Trepanations in Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Xinjiang. Dong Wei, Si Yang. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 432000)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16289