Medicine in the Middle Ages wasn’t the greatest: the leeches, the dirt, that whole
four-humors thing. And yet physicians from all over the world made heroic efforts to develop and share their knowledge. Here, we’ve gathered some of our favorite historical anatomical drawings, which medieval and early modern doctors made from dissections of both animals and human cadavers. The drawings show amusing inaccuracies, impressive detail, and the apparently universal drive to give anatomical drawings weird facial expressions.
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Von Gersdorff was one of the most noted German surgeons of his time, according to the National Library of Medicine. He was especially reputed for performing limb amputations. He published a book about “wound doctoring.”
Rage, Rage Against The Dying Of The Light
Eustachi lived in 16th-century Italy, where he served as physician to a duke, and then to a cardinal in Rome. He supported the theories of anatomy developed by the ancient Greek physician Galen, which were based on dissections of animals, not human cadavers. Some Galenic weirdnesses included the belief that human blood was cleaned by a structure in the neck that actually appears in sheep, for cooling their blood, but not in people.
Miracle Of Life
Casseri came from a poor family in Italy, and worked as a servant to a medical student and to a surgeon before becoming a professor of surgery and anatomy himself. Van de Spiegel was born in Brussels and studied under Casseri. This woman seems just so pleased to show off her Cabbage Patch Fetus.
Bourdon was a French physician who practiced medicine starting in the 1670s. Little is known about him.
Chest Cavity And Urinary System
This man seems surprised… whether by his open chest, his pantslessness, or the other man’s urinary tract in his hand, it’s hard to say. The figure comes from Tibb al-Akbar, or Akbar’s Medicine, by Muhammad Akbar. The illustrations are not signed, so historians don’t know who made them. The artist would have come from modern-day Iran or Pakistan.
Unlike Western anatomies, this Chinese drawing doesn’t show musculature and other interior organs. Instead, it illustrates acupuncture points and the movement of yin and yang through the body.
Have Mercy On My Bones
Cheselden was an English surgeon. His bone illustrations also included the skeletons of animals and people strolling through different landscapes.