a brief history of the study of human anatomy
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A Brief History of the Study of Human Anatomy. Early Egyptians. Perfected the science of mummification . Major organs were removed and placed in jars. Body cavity was filled with a “sawdust-like” material. Body was wrapped in linen cloth shrouds. Alexandria, Egypt.

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early egyptians
Early Egyptians
  • Perfected the science of mummification.
  • Major organs were removed and placed in jars.
  • Body cavity was filled with a “sawdust-like” material.
  • Body was wrapped in linen cloth shrouds.
alexandria egypt
Alexandria, Egypt
  • The study of anatomy flourished in Alexandria between 300-150 B.C.
  • Only criminals were allowed to be dissected because these early cultures were very superstitious and believed that an intact body was necessary for a successful afterlife.
roman influence
Roman Influence
  • In 30 B.C. Alexandria was conquered by the Roman Empire.
  • The Romans were interested in power, wealth and military strength, not in anatomical studies.
  • Romans outlawed anatomical studies and human dissections.
galen of pergamen
Galen of Pergamen
  • Perhaps one of the brightest spots in the early history of anatomy was the work of a Greek physician named Galen (120-300 A.D.).
  • Galen had been trained in the Alexandrian tradition and wanted to further the scientific study of the human body.
galen s work
Galen’s Work
  • Because human dissections were outlawed by the Romans, Galen wrote an anatomy textbook based on his dissections of the Barbary ape, a primate similar to man.
  • While the text was helpful it had many inaccuracies.
galen s influence
Galen’s Influence
  • Galen’s anatomy textbook, based on the dissection of the Barbary ape, became the accepted authority on human anatomy for 1300 years!
  • How could this be?
the dark ages 400 1100 a d
The Dark Ages (400 – 1100 A.D.)
  • Barbarians from Asia, such as Attila and the Huns, overran and destroyed the Roman Empire.
  • Many of the scientific writings were destroyed.
dark ages
Dark Ages
  • Fortunately some of these documents were salvaged by the Moslems and translated into their language, Arabic.
  • About 1100 A.D., Christian scholars discovered these Arabic translations and began the slow process of translating them into Latin.
  • This exposed a wealth of lost and forgotten information.
  • Not until the 16th century were these works finally translated.
first autopsy
First Autopsy
  • In the year 1286 we have reference to a human dissection being performed to determine the cause of death.
  • Today, this procedure is called an autopsy.
rise of medical schools
Rise of Medical Schools
  • By the early 1300’s anatomical studies were again becoming fashionable.
  • In the medical schools in Italy anatomy professors were highly respected figures and so they would sit in large throne-like chairs, wear academic robes, and read from the re-translated text of Galen.
rise of medical schools1
Rise of Medical Schools
  • Barbers actually performed the dissections on human subjects while students stood and observed.
  • Students were not allowed to participate in the dissections.
a major contribution
A Major Contribution
  • During the early Renaissance years, artists, sculptors and painters strove to make their artwork as human and life-like as possible.
  • To do this, they had to study human anatomy on a first-hand basis; that is, they had to perform their own human dissections.
a major contribution1
A Major Contribution
  • One of the most famous of these Renaissance artists was Leonardo DaVinci.
  • His anatomically accurate drawings gave to anatomists for the first time illustrations with correct anatomical proportions and great attention to detail.
andreas vesalius
Andreas Vesalius
  • The man who revolutionized the study of anatomy was Andreas Vesalius.
  • He realized that to learn anatomy students needed to be involved with the dissections.
  • He also realized that Galen’s textbook was severely flawed and must be replaced.
andreas vesalius1
Andreas Vesalius
  • Vesalius revolutionized the study of anatomy by doing away with the barbers, instead doing human dissections himself and having students assist instead of just observe.
  • He also published his own anatomy textbook which contained many anatomically accurate drawings based on human dissections.
killing sacred cows
Killing Sacred Cows
  • Vesalius introduced the idea of “killing sacred cows”, that is, challenging accepted authority for the purpose of improving it.
  • Because of his revolutionary work at the University of Padua, Andreas Vesalius is considered to be the “Father of Modern Anatomy”
  • Vesalius was replaced at the University of Padua by a man named Fabricius.
  • Fabricius discovered the presence of one-way valves in veins, he called them the “little doors”.
william harvey
William Harvey
  • The English physician, William Harvey, a student of Fabricius, became interested in the circulation of the blood.
  • Harvey was the first person to describe the heart as a pump for blood and he also described arteries and veins as blood vessels that carry blood throughout the body.
william harvey1
William Harvey
  • Harvey showed that “function can be inferred from structure”and thus became known as the “Father of Physiology”.
marcello malpighi
Marcello Malpighi
  • With the development of the microscope, the Italian anatomist, Marcello Malpighi was able to see the tiny blood vessels that Harvey could not see but had predicted their presence.
  • These tiny vessels Malpighi named “capillaries”, which means “hair-like” in Latin.