Why do humans put holes in our heads? It’s a question 7,000 years in the making. 

With the help of a googly-eyed watermelon named Joe Melon, Popular Science host Kevin Lieber tries to find an answer while drilling into the fascinating history of trepanation

A history of trepanning: Why do we put holes in our skulls?

Ten percent of the neolithic skulls discovered by modern humans have at least one man-made hole in them, and trepanning is the oldest surgery we have surviving evidence of. But without the benefit of contemporary surgical tools, how did trepanning even work? Scraping. A lot of scraping. And our friend Joe Melon is the unfortunate fruit subjected to the various methods of trepanning tested through history. 

At Popular Science, we’re no strangers to trepanning. Nearly 150 years ago, the September 1875 issue included a story about a doctor who found trepanned remains in France. The remains also included “cranial amulets” made from bone. So skull charm necklaces basically. And in February 1893, Popular Science covered the story of “Mrs. N,” a woman who wore a trepanned section of her husband’s skull as a brooch. Love is beautiful, right? 

These are just a few of the interesting things you’ll learn about trepanning in the latest video from our newly launched YouTube channel