A scientific analysis of cranial trepanation from an Early Iron Age cemetery on the ancient Silk Road in Xinjiang, China Academic Article uri icon


  • 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. This study uses multiple scientific methods to analyse a case of trepanation from a cemetery located at the westernmost point along the ancient Silk Road in China dating back to the Early Iron Age. The skull of interest belonged to a middle-aged male; the opening is located on the left posterior side of the skull in the occipital bone. Computer tomography (CT) and microscopic observation show that the incision was unhealed, indicating an immediate death either during or after the operation. The procedure of trepanation might have been used to treat a depressed fracture from inflicted trauma on the individuals right parietal bone, suggesting the presence of surgical trepanation in early Western China.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Q., Wang, Q., Kong, B., Wang, C., Yang, D., Zhu, H., & Zhang, Q.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Qun||Wang, Qian||Kong, Boyu||Wang, Chunxue||Yang, Dongya||Zhu, Hong||Zhang, Quanchao

publication date

  • September 2018