Was Inca Science Ahead of Its Time, or Not?
Whatever may be said of the technical prowess of Peru’s ancient Inca civilization, it is now clear that they achieved a mastery of brain surgery, unequaled even by the time of the American Civil War four centuries later. That is the conclusion of a study published in June in the journal Science.
In fact, say the scientists, they were able to analyze evidence of ‘trepanation’—the act of drilling, cutting, or scraping a hole in the skull for medical reasons—practiced by many ancient societies. The survival rate for the procedure could be determined from any healing observed in the subject skulls. If there was no healing, then it was clear the patient had not survived the operation. Trepanned skulls are found all over the world. Commonly, says the study, the procedure was intended to relieve pressure from swelling following a head injury, but it may also have been intended for headaches or other conditions that were not evident in the skulls examined.
Dr. David Kushner, of the University of Miami, and a team of experts looked at 59 skulls from Peru’s central highlands over a period of several centuries and determined that survival rates eventually reached over 90%, whereas, in almost half; of head wounds treated with trepanation during the Civil War, the patient died.
Once again, the advancement of ancient science has surprised arrogant modern science, but, ironically, the Incan culture, itself, also represents a decline from levels achieved much earlier by their own predecessors, now virtually unknown to us, except though their architecture. In Sacsayhuaman and many other Peruvian sites, the great refinements of a much older and more advanced culture contrast sharply with the cruder practices of the more recent Inca. Clearly, they were only inheritors of the older ruins, not their creators. For more on the amazing prediluvian achievements in Peru see “Secrets of Tiwanaku,” our cover story, on page 42 of this issue.
Tiny Prehistoric Brains Make Big Trouble for Science
What makes one a modern human? Other than being born in the last 100,000 years, we have always been told by mainstream science that it was mostly our big brains that made us so special, but what if it was something else?
Homo naledi, an extinct human species who lived, we learned in 2015, about a quarter of a million years ago in South Africa, had a brain the size of an orange. Yet, researchers say, the little guy was very sophisticated and exhibited intelligence on a par with our own.
Today specialists in Homo naledi, like Dr. Lee Berger of the University of Witwatersrand, profess to be baffled by some very complex behaviors displayed by the little people. They had small feet, hands capable of making tools, and, apparently, buried their dead in complex rituals. None of that fits with current theory that traces all human advancement to the actual size, and related capacity, of the brain. It looks now like, when it comes to explaining the behavior of humans and their brain requirements, standard materialistic science may soon need to go back to the drawing board.
Could it be that we are are getting closer to the realization that consciousness itself is independent of the brain in the same way that television pictures are independent of TV sets. That is the view of many alternative researchers today. Some, like biologist Rupert Sheldrake, have argued for an ‘extended mind’ in which we all share and that is capable of many functions far beyond the standard paradigm. Such ideas are not new, of course. From psychiatrist Carl Jung to quantum physicist Nils Bohr, there have long been those who have realized that consciousness comes first, and the brain is, at best, a kind of reducing valve, and little more. Don’t hold your breath, though, waiting for science to use its brain to awaken from its long Darwinian sleep.
CAPTION: Homo naledi skull made from casts reconstructed from two different specimens as no complete skulls of this species have been found. Cranial capacity is roughly one third that of modern humans. Now at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.