Anatomical Dissection in Enlightenment England and Beyond: by Piers Mitchell

By Piers Mitchell

Excavations of scientific college and workhouse cemeteries undertaken in Britain within the final decade have unearthed interesting new facts for how that our bodies have been dissected or autopsied within the eighteenth and 19th centuries. This e-book brings jointly the newest discoveries by way of those organic anthropologists, along specialists within the early historical past of pathology museums in British scientific faculties and the Royal collage of Surgeons of britain, and clinical historians learning the social context of dissection and post-mortem within the Georgian and Victorian classes. jointly they demonstrate a formerly unknown view of the perform of anatomical dissection and the position of museums during this interval, in parallel with the attitudes of the final inhabitants to the learn of human anatomy within the Enlightenment.

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Sagittal cuts like these would allow inspection of the cross-section of the vertebrae and the contiguous soft tissue structures. More common were transverse cuts in the lumbar vertebrae, in both bodies and spinous processes. One cut was a false-start kerf running obliquely across the inferior surface of the body. 22 Evidence of the opening and exposure of the pelvic cavity was present in the form of sagitally sectioned sacra and ilia. Similar modifications were noted to the skull. One mandible, likely to have been male, exhibited a sagittal bisection through the chin area, on the distal side of the second right lateral incisor.

From amongst the disarticulated assemblage the refitted proximal and distal parts of a single femur showed that this bone had initially been sawn partially through from the anterior side, after which the saw was withdrawn from the cut and sawing recommenced from the posterior side of the bone. In a living subject this sequence of events would have been excessively time consuming as well as requiring repositioning of the patient, so it is best interpreted as a practice amputation performed on a cadaver.

65 Whilst alive, the sick poor and charitable causes were actively supported by most medical practitioners. 66 In death, however, notions of the ‘common good’ and the need for anatomical exploration to further medical science often usurped the personal emotional bonds shown by relatives to the deceased’s corpse. , p. 178. Worcester Council of the Provincial Association, ‘Petition on Poor-Law Medical 61 62 Relief’, Journal of the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association S1-3 (1842): 381–2. 63 McMenemey, A History of the Worcester Royal Infirmary, p.

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