Home » History of anatomy – a journey through time through the millennia in pictures.

History of anatomy – a journey through time through the millennia in pictures.

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History of anatomy – a journey through time through the millennia in pictures.

If we are hungry, our stomach growls. When you’re stressed, your head can lose hair and your heart can break when you’re extremely heartbroken. As you get older, your ears suddenly get bigger, but your penis gets smaller. The human body is fascinating – and a wearing part. People have been trying to understand their bodies for thousands of years. To do this, over time it was meticulously dismantled into its individual parts and explored. History and science writer Colin Slater has delved through the archives and traced the history of anatomy through more than 150 books from around the world.

The oldest surviving records of anatomy come from Ancient Egypt. The papyri are around 3,600 years old, but refer to writings that are thought to have been written up to 5,000 years ago. Instructions for the treatment of war injuries are written down in the document now known as the “Edwin Smith Papyrus”. “It is unique among little-known medical papyri in that it is a thoroughly practical manual, with treatments based on observation and practice rather than incantations and superstition,” said Slater. However, this document also contains a handful of “spells as a last resort”.

Science of anatomy controversial

The roots of the modern science of anatomy lie in the 16th century, when not only surgeons but also artists increasingly became interested in the human body. At that time, public anatomy demonstrations were even offered. Nevertheless, research into the body remained controversial for a long time because it literally goes under the skin. “Social conventions meant that dissection was often illegal or viewed as blasphemous or at least in bad taste,” Slater writes.

Both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are said to have had a kind of “back door arrangement” with hospitals in order to be able to carry out their studies on corpses. Later the bodies of convicted criminals were used. Dissecting them was seen as additional punishment, writes Slater. And in the 19th century, when the teaching of anatomy suddenly became popular, the lack of “examination material” even led to robbers specializing in looting graves in order to sell them to lecturers and students.

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Anatomy time travel – from Ancient Egypt to the 21st century

Colin Slater’s book “History of Anatomy” is a journey through five millennia of discovery of the human body – from the anatomy of antiquity to the technological advances of the 21st century. In his book he deals with scientific progress over the millennia, but also the influences of religion and art on the development of anatomical theories. The volume is illustrated with many images from the eras, including the eight in the photo series above.

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