Evidence of First Ever Brain surgery from Harappa – Ancient India


In Some parts of the world, This procedure has also been associated with religious rituals and “to ward off evil spirits”. However, in the case of the skull that was found in Harappa, The Trepanation ( The process of cutting a hole in the skull) was intended as therapeutic as there is a clear indication of cranial trauma in the form of a visible linear depression, probably resulting from a severe blow, says the study. There is evidence too of healing indicating that the victim survived for a considerable time after the operation. Scholars have recorded striking similarities in trepanation techniques across the continents, and therefore considered it as important evidence for prehistoric movements of people and for transfer of surgical skills from one society to another.

 Evidence of Brain surgery in harappa, Proof of advanced ancient indian medical technology
Ancient Indian Science – Brain Surgery Evidence Pictures

There is another reference to Brain surgery in 11th century in a text Bhoja Prabandham, describing life of Raja Bhoja. Raja Bhoja was a king and polymath of medieval India, who ruled the kingdom of Malwa in central India from the early 11th century to 1055 CE. Also known as Raja Bhoj of Dhar, he belonged to the Paramara dynasty.

 Early in his career, just before he came to power, Bhoja was afflicted by a tumor in his brain which used to cause him intense headaches. Two Brahmin brothers from the school of Ujjain, who were pre-eminent surgeons of the era, performed a surgery on his brain and relieved him of his tumor. The description of the surgery as mentioned in the reference suggests that they artificially induced a coma with a special preparation known as the sammohini and then opened his skull to remove the tumor. He was then brought back to consciousness with another drug.
Bhoja survived this surgery remarkably well and had an illustrious reign both as a military commander and encyclopaedic scholar.
A Detailed article along with all the original references have been mentioned in First evidence of brain surgery in Bronze Age Harappa , and available as a PDF. Please do read and share the article to more people. An article on this topic has been published in THE HINDU newpaper also.

A study published in the latest edition of the Indian journal, Current Science reveals that brain surgical practice was prevalent even 4,300 years ago — in the Indus Valley during the Harappa Culture! The finding is based on the surgical procedure, known as trepanation, discovered in one Harappan male skull kept in the Palaeoanthropology Repository of Kolkata-based Anthropological Survey of India (ASI). The skull was discovered in 1930s during excavations in Harappa.

The trepanated Harappan male skull H-796/B in the Palaeoanthropology Repository of Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata in three views: a, the left lateral view showing the trepanated hole; b, the postero-lateral view showing the horizontal linear traumatic fracture on the occipital bone; c, an enlarged view of the trepanated site showing the rim of callous formed due to healing, and d, the trepanated Burzahom female skull showing signs of multiple trepanations. (Image Source: Current Science)

“The first unequivocal case of ancient brain surgical practice, known as trepanation, was observed 4,300 years ago in a Bronze Age Harappan skull,” says A R Sankhyan, a palaeoanthropologist from ASI. “A clear rim of 3 mm width at the internal border of the hole is the evidence of osteogenesis or healing, indicating that the victim survived for a considerable time after the operation.”


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