This page is referenced by:
History of Anatomy
The study of anatomy involves the composition of the human body and all other living organisms. This section of science is very important when it comes to health science and medical professions. When performing a dissection or dismemberment of the body of a human or animal, knowing the inner components and functions of a body is imperative for successful procedure. As far back as 1600 BC, anatomical studies were being used to recognize the major organs and bones in a body. Greek scientist Alcmaeon “began to construct a background for medical and anatomical science with the dissection of animals” (IPFS 2016). Although animal dissections were being performed openly, human dissections were not originally shared with the public eye. When anatomical dissections were first performed on human bodies, scientists were not allowed to share their research or glimpses of the dismemberment with other individuals. As stated in the CLRR article, “It was only at the beginning of the 13th century that we find that the first traces of public anatomical dissection performed by Mondino de’ Liuzzi, professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna” (Matteo, Tarabella, Filardo, Viganò, Tomba, Kon, Maracci 1). Religious and scientific reasons were holding back the public viewing of dissections due to certain beliefs and lack of anatomical knowledge and/or research.
As science evolved, the study of anatomy had become an intriguing subject; with the first school of anatomy being introduced in 300 BC Greece. This school allowed individuals to witness the dissection of human bodies and learn how the human body works. These dissections, however, were not performed on any individual. “Most of the early dissections were done on executed criminals” (IPFS). The first educational dissection took place at the school of anatomy by Herophilos and Erasistratus on criminals. Today, Herophilos can be arguably considered the father of anatomy due to his knowledge and intelligence in the study of anatomy. Later in the 17th century, anatomist Giovanni Paolo Mascagni discovered the workings of the lymphatic system; the vessels in the body in which lymph drains from the tissues into the blood. He taught at many schools; which led to the production of his own book, Treatise of Anatomy. “This book was not meant to train surgeons or physicians, but artists specializing in the representation of every part of the human body” (Matteo 3). Other notable individuals such as Leonardo da Vinci and Vesalius were notable in the early modern anatomy period. Leonardo da Vinci was known for his anatomical drawing; which depicted the “perfect human”. His drawing, “Anatomical study of the arm”, depicts the many bones, joints, and muscles that are associated with the human arm. He has dissected about thirty human cadavers, as well as having 750 surviving anatomical drawings. His findings during his time as an artist-anatomist included the first depiction of the human spine, arteriosclerosis, and cirrhosis of the liver.
In recent times, anatomical research has advanced in a way that allows people to better understand the studies of evolution, genetics, chemistry, and molecular biology. Technology has advanced as well to better allow scientists to view and study the miniscule areas in the body; such as our skin, blood, and muscle cells. Medical-based machines such as MRI and CAT scanners have allowed doctors to research our major organs and bones; which can help them see blood clots, bone fractures, and brain trauma. In science-based classes, students are exposed to a human and animal dissection; as well as being able to perform and research the anatomy of a cadaver. In the medical field, having expert knowledge in the study of anatomy is crucial when dealing with individuals who rely on your intelligence on behalf of their health. Surgeons are given such a big responsibility when performing procedures on their patients. This is because they must know every inch of the internal and external anatomy. If they happen to make a mistake when performing a heart transplant on an individual, they can not only cost the patient their life, but also can lose their medical license and job.
It can take many years of experience and education to obtain the knowledge needed pertaining to anatomical research. “To develop a good understanding of function and pathophysiology the students first require a depth of understanding of structure of the human body” (Hulme, Strkalj 1540). There are many classes that specialize in the teaching of anatomy and the human body; such as Anatomy and Physiology. In early teachings of anatomy, a dissection was one of the only methods of learning the concepts of the human body. Today, doctors and scientists use cadavers, videos, and demonstrations to educate aspiring anatomists in this profession. “Anatomy started to be taught into a greater number of educational programs and the demand on resources and finances to fund these methods became increasingly influential to criteria” (1540). Since medical careers are becoming increasingly popular, colleges and medical schools must be up-to-date on the latest anatomical studies, as well as being able to provide students with the information they need for their major.
The study of anatomy has greatly increased throughout the past few thousand years. From hands-on dissection to computerized machinery, understanding of the human anatomy had become better understood and appreciated in the medical field. Whether you are obtaining a medical or science degree, anatomy is one of the most important and well-respected subjects to learn in your academic career.