Bronze Age skull, Jericho, Palestine, 2200-2000 BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This skull, excavated from Jericho, (now in the occupied West Bank, Israel), shows four trepanned holes. Trepanning may have been intended to release from the brain or mind the evil spirits which were believed to cause mental problems, or illnesses, such as migraine or epilepsy. Drilled holes were roughly circular, whereas knife-cut ones were usually square- shaped. That this individual survived the process can be deduced from the fact that the bone shows signs of healing.