Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/553

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535
PREHISTORIC TREPANNING.

PREHISTORIC TREPANNING.

ONE of the most remarkable revelations made of late years by prehistoric archæology relative to primitive man has been that of the extent to which trepanning was practiced by the men of the polished stone age—the men who erected the rude stone monuments of which Stonehenge and Carnac are the highest expressions.

In 1872 Dr. Prunières first called attention to the fact that among the interments of the neolithic age in the limestone caverns of Lozère, and under the so-called dolmens, a certain number of skulls found had been surgically treated. Portions of the skull had been removed, in many cases during life; whereas others had been trepanned after death. There could be no question but that in many cases those who had been operated upon had survived the operation, as the reparative efforts of Nature were marked.

The matter was taken up by Dr. Broca, who published an essay on the subject, which he had communicated to the Anthropological Congress at Buda-Pesth in 1876. It has since been investigated by M. Nadaillac, and has been recently referred to by Count d'Alviella in his Hibbert Lectures for 1891.

A word first upon the race which practiced trepanning. As far as can be ascertained, it entered Europe by the shores of the Baltic from the Caucasus and Crimea, strewing the plains of Pomerania, Hanover, and Gröningen with their monuments, erected out of the stones left by the rafts of ice that floated over these submerged plains in the Glacial period. This race occupied Denmark and Sweden, crossed into Great Britain, and has left its remains in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the west of England, Dorset, Wiltshire, and Kent. It entered France, made Brittany its stronghold, traced up the rivers to the central plateau of France, but never occupied the upper waters of the Elbe, the Rhine, or the Meuse, was never on the Danube at all, and, though it descended from the central mountains of France to the Rhone, yet never advanced far east beyond it. On the other hand, it crossed the Pyrenees, erected its rude stone monuments in Spain and Portugal, traversed the strait of Gibraltar, and, after setting up some circles and cromlechs in northern Africa, disappeared altogether.

What this race was we do not know; it was not a pure one, for among the skulls found in its sepulchral monuments some are round and some are long-headed; but in all probability it was a long-headed race that had subjected other peoples, and had brought along with it wives and slaves of alien blood.

The tools and weapons of this remarkable people are of beau-