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15 July 2010
Neolithic amputation in France

A skeleton discovered in 2005 at a Neolithic site in Buthiers-Boulancourt, 40 miles south of Paris (France), has yielded rare evidence of early amputation. While trepanation is widely known to have been practiced in the Neolithic, this older man, buried some 7000 years ago, had had his arm succesfully amputated above the elbow. A sharpened flint was used to cut his humerus above the trochlea indent. The cut was clean and macroscopic examination revealed no trace of infection, suggesting  it was carried out in relatively aseptic conditions.
     Archaeologist Cecile Buquet-Marcon suggested that sage was probably used to clean the wound, while pain-killing plants such as the hallucinogenic Datura may have been used as anaesthetic. Although the patient suffered from osteoarthritis, he survived the operation and lived for months or even years. His loss of an arm seems not to have prevented him from a high position in the community - he was buried in a larger than average grave with a schist axe, flint pick and the the remains of a young animal. This evidence confirms that sophisticated medical knowledge and procedures existed at an early date.

Source: The Epoch Times (28 June 2010)

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