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A Skull-Rattling Good Time!

Posted on February 28, 2017 by in The OFI Blog

From Left to Right: Dr. Lawrence Becker, Dr. Matthew Cahn, Dr. David Hunt, Intern Lauren Vigil, and Intern Jasmine Hernandez.

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH)?

Can you spot the evidence of trephination? See the large hole on the side of the skull? There it is!

On Monday February 27, 2017, a lucky group got to find out! NMNH Museum Specialist Dr. David Hunt gave a tour to visiting associates from California State University, Northridge (CSUN): Dr. Lawrence Becker, Chair and Director of the Department of Political Science, and Associate Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dr. Matthew Cahn.  Joining this tour were NMNH interns Jasmine Hernandez and Lauren Vigil.

Dr. Hunt took Dr. Becker, Dr. Cahn, Jasmine, and Lauren behind the scenes to see the extra collections hosted at NMNH! Included on this tour was a look at several human skulls with evidence of trephination, which is a surgical intervention where a hole is drilled, incised or scraped into the skull using simple surgical tools.

A particular point of interest was the skeletal remains of several American Civil War soldiers from a site in Virginia. Some of these soldiers’ remains were unique due to the evident surgical amputation!

Skeletal remains of Civil War soldiers from Virginia. Do you see any bones with evidence of surgical amputation?

Thank you, Dr. Hunt!  It’s tibia expected that everyone had a great time: Hip Hip Hooray!