Anatomy secrets revealed by medieval grave

A medieval grave, rare discoveries, and the unveiling of unknown medical approaches in history, all found in one unearthing. In 2010, archaeologists discovered an Italian woman’s medieval grave in Bologna Italy, revealing a perfect 4.6 millimeter hole in the frontal bone of her skull and later bones to her baby. Researchers estimate that the woman was around 25-35 years of age. They also believe that a neurological surgical procedure called trepanation (a procedure in which a hole is drilled or scrapped out) was performed on this woman during the Lombard period, a period ranging from 376-476 CE, in hopes of saving her life, and her 38-week-old baby she was carrying. It is hypothesized that she had pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, a condition in which one or more convulsions occur in a pregnant woman suffering from high blood pressure, often followed by coma, fever, and cerebral hemorrhage, and that the surgery was performed to relive the pressure in her skull. Sadly, despite this procedure, scientists concluded that by the partial healing of the hole in the woman’s head, she died one week later, along with the baby inside her. Because the baby had also passed, it had a “coffin birth”, a birth in which the fetus posthumously is forced out, due to the force of the decaying gases. It is uncertain whether the baby could have lived even though the mother did not. Although a procedure like this in the Stone Age is common, a procedure like this during the Lumbard period occurs less, some might even say rare. Only a few trepanations are known to have been performed, for the reasons of treating diseases, migraines, traumatic or neurological injuries, and hypertension. Coffin births, however, are even more rare. Alba Pasini, a co-author of this medieval discovery and a researcher from the Department of Biomedical and Specialty Surgical Sciences at University of Ferrara, states “This case is really important, since it testifies that a medical approach actually existed during the Lombard period, despite the rejection of the scientific progress which denoted all the Early Middle Ages. Also, it shows two rare findings, since post-mortem fetal extrusion is quite rare.” Given that, though they say dead men tell no tales, this discovery says that dead women do.