September 8, 2022 | 3 comments
The 31,000-year-old skeleton is believed to be the earliest known evidence of surgical intervention.
The discovery was made quite unexpectedly by Australian and Indonesian archaeologists who had been searching for ancient cave art in a limestone cave in East Kalimantan, Borneo back in 2020.
The skeletal remains turned out to be something even more intriguing – an individual who had seemingly undergone the amputation of their lower left leg and had lived to tell the tale.
Dating back 31,000 years, the find is not only the earliest known evidence of amputation, but also the earliest known evidence of any sort of surgical procedure.
An analysis of the skeleton revealed that the procedure must have been successful because the individual in question had gone on to live for several years after their leg was amputated.
The find is particularly significant because it had previously been widely accepted that until around 10,000 years ago, humans lacked the ability to perform an effective amputation without resulting in the death of the patient.
The previous earliest known example was that of a farmer whose arm was amputated in France some 7,000 years ago.
“This finding very much changes the known history of medical intervention and knowledge of humanity,” said Dr Tim Maloney of Australia’s Griffith University.
“It implies that early people… had mastered complex surgical procedures allowing this person to survive after the removal of a foot and leg.”
Disabled people have always been here.
“[The hunter] survived not just as a child, but as an adult amputee in this rainforest environment”https://t.co/NWu0nxdI3N
— El Gibbs (@bluntshovels) September 7, 2022