A team of scientists from Spain studied the well-preserved skull of a man who lived at the end of the Roman Empire on the Iberian Peninsula, and discovered several damages. One of them turned out to be the result of the removal of part of the bone.
Using computed tomography, scientists created a 3D model of the skull and also visualized its internal structures. Thus, it was possible to identify four injuries, three of which were on the outside of the bone frame of the head. They were located on the top of the head and, most likely, were inflicted deliberately with blunt or sharp objects during the man’s lifetime.
The fourth injury was located on the inside of the skull and was similar to pathology – apparently, the man had undergone surgery, as a result of which part of the bone was removed. According to the scientists, after studying the characteristics of the lesion and comparing it with various diseases, such as infections, it was found that it was formed as a result of a tumor, presumably a meningioma.
Meningioma is the most common type of primary malignant brain tumor, accounting for about 30% of all such pathologies. It develops from meningeal cells, which are three layers of tissue between the skull and brain that protect the structures of the central nervous system.
A brain tumor discovered in the skull of a man who lived 1,600 years ago has been described by scientists as the earliest such case known to science, in the Iberian Peninsula.
Scientists noted that studying ancient pathologies can help understand their impact on the lives of ancestors. Similar studies can provide information about causes of death, population behavior and how the sick were cared for in ancient times.
Earlier scientists found traces of the world’s oldest plague in DNA samples extracted from the teeth of 34 people in Britain who lived there four thousand years ago.