History of Human Anatomy

History of Human Anatomy

Human history has a very rich and prestigious history. The history of human anatomy has an important role in some intelligent anatomists.

To study and understand the history of human anatomy we can classify into various  time period are the following :

  • Ancient anatomy
  • Medical to early modern anatomy
  • Modern anatomy




Ancient Anatomy –

    • The history of human anatomy starts from the beginning of human civilization and that time the early idea of Arabian human beings is that when we healed certain vital parts then the animal died soon. They applied this knowledge in the intertribal war that it is “Art of killing not the science of healing “ that we see now.
    • In 2700- 2600 BC  – The earliest book on Humans Anatomy which is “Neiching” in China.
    • Egyptians- They are perfected in the science of mummification. Actually they opened up the whole dead body and removed major organs and placed them in the jars. After that, they filled the dead body with “sawdust” material and wrapped it into linen cloth shrouds. They are known as the earliest record of a human structure by dissection.
    • India – In 1000 BC, Sushruta was considered as the father of Indian surgery. He practiced for purposeful surgery . His first surgery was on intestinal obstruction. He also gave the aseptic precaution just before surgery.
    • Hippocrates- (460-377 BC) He was the father of medicine. He was known as the founder of anatomy as he gave the guideline for dissection use of a scalpel and dissected dead bodies from the battlefield.




  • Aristotle – (384-332 BC) He gave the term “Anatomy” and he wrote the first-ever account on the embryology and analyzed various veins and arteries and named them He believed that heart as the center of intelligence and emotions.
  • Herophilus- (300-325 BC ) He is known as the father of human anatomy. He dissected the criminals which are actually known as vivisection as Aristotle and Herophilus had special permission from the tolomic dynasty They dissected the living criminals and defined the parts of the brain and spinal cord. He said the brain is the seat of intelligence.

Medieval to early modern anatomy –

    • Galen of Pergamum- He was the most prominent anatomist of this period. He is known as the “Prince of Physicians” because he was the first experimental physiologist. He dissected the monkeys and other animals and correlated their anatomy with human anatomy. He also stated the importance of the spinal cord and nervous system. That time was known as Galenic age.
    • 15thcentaury- In 13th to 14th centaury all dissection was prohibited by Pope Boniface. And then Leonardo da Vinci was the greatest geniuses at all times He was known as the originator of cross-sectional anatomy. He gave anatomy drawings that were found after 160 years of his death. These drawings were made with extreme perfection. He made a total of 500 diagrams in his 60 notebooks.
    • 16thcentury-  The greatest anatomist at all times was Andrews Vesalius. He was considered as the “Founder of modern anatomy “ He Descartes all the previous theory and believed that anatomy can be taught only through dissection. He wrote a book which name was “ De humani corporis  fabrica” in this book he gave a detailed view of human anatomy.




  • 17thcentury- There was William Harvey, the famous English anatomist who described the circulation of blood through the human body. But at that time he was not able to describe the need for blood in the human body as oxygen not discovered that time.
  • Eighteenth and Nineteenth century: In these two centuries, major steps were taken in learning procedure for anatomy. Dissection was made compulsory for medical students. Warburton Anatomy Act was passed in England under which the unclaimed bodies were made available for dissection. The use of formalin as a fixative started in this period and techniques of endoscopy were also discovered. Prominent anatomists of this century included Cuvier, Meckel and Henry Gray.

Modern anatomy-

  • The Advancement in radiological techniques in the twentieth century which help researchers to make remarkable connections between anatomy and physiology.  
  • The success in easy access to advanced technology such as PET and CAT scanners, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps physicians and scientists to have a glimpse of what is inside the body without performing surgery or even dissection.




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