The modern science of. paleopathology, which is destined to throw new light on old diseases,1 lost one of its most earnest devotees in the untimely death of Sir Armand Ruffer at the Saloniki front. One of the last of his communications, a contribution to the debated subject of prehistoric trephining, has been published by Lady Ruffer.2 Although the discovery of the first trephined, prehistoric skull dates from 1685, and numerous examples of this operation, which was frequently performed in Neolithic times in western Europe, have come to light in more recent years, the intent and procedure of this form of surgical intervention are by no means clear.
According to one widely held view of this prehistoric surgery, the trephining operation was first performed from time immemorial on sheep for the relief of "staggers"; and, later, man extended the application of the veterinary method to his own species. The