Image: Ancient skeleton
AP
Archaeologists believe a large hole on the front of this skull, above the eyes, was caused by brain surgery nearly 1,800 years ago. Although references to such delicate operations abound in ancient writings, discoveries of surgically perforated skulls are uncommon in Greece.
updated 3/11/2008 7:31:25 PM ET 2008-03-11T23:31:25

Greek archaeologists said Tuesday they have unearthed rare evidence of what they believe was brain surgery performed nearly 1,800 years ago on a young woman — who died during or shortly after the operation.

Although references to such delicate operations abound in ancient writings, discoveries of surgically perforated skulls are uncommon in Greece.

Site excavator Ioannis Graikos said the woman's skeleton was found during a rescue dig last year in Veria, a town some 46 miles west of Thessaloniki.

"We interpret the find as a case of complicated surgery which only a trained and specialized doctor could have attempted," Graikos said.

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