Article ID: CBB492615004

Learning Anatomy in Late Sixteenth-century Padua (2018)


Based on the newly discovered, extensive manuscript notes of a virtually unknown German medical student by the name of Johann Konrad Zinn, who studied in Padua from 1593 to 1595, this paper offers a detailed account of what medical students could expect to learn about anatomy in late sixteenth-century Padua. It highlights the large number and wide range of anatomical demonstrations, most of which were private anatomies for a small circle of students and do not figure in Acta of the German Nation, the principal source historians have so far relied upon. While the large audience in the big, celebrated public anatomies made it difficult if not impossible for the students to see the details of the anatomical structures, the much more numerous private anatomies offered a view from close up. As Zinn’s notes show, the two leading Paduan anatomists, Hieronymus Fabricius Aquapendente and Giulio Casseri often focused on a specific part of the body, like the brain or the pregnant uterus, and, following the Galenic model, consistently linked the demonstration of the fabric of that part to a discussion of its action and uses. In this sense, the different kinds of valves in the body, including those in the veins, were shown and discussed, as a subsection on William Harvey underlines, and the vivisection of animals for a group of students even allowed them to see the beating heart and other organs in action. In retrospect, much of the anatomical knowledge that students acquired in late sixteenth-century Padua was of limited relevance for medical practice but the anatomists did their best to point out such clinical uses and even used anatomical demonstrations to show different kinds surgical interventions on the corpse.

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Authors & Contributors
Bertoloni Meli, Domenico
Galtarossa, Massimo
Distelzweig, Peter M.
Palmieri, Paolo
Wood, Rega
Dupré, Sven
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Medical History
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
Renaissance Studies
Perspectives on Science
Medicina Historica
L'Erma di Bretschneider
Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura
University of Pittsburgh
Indiana University
Medical education and teaching
Human anatomy
Natural philosophy
Universities and colleges
Fabricius, ab Aquapendente
Harvey, William
Descartes, René
Zabarella, Jacopo
Morgagni, Giovanni Battista
Cardano, Girolamo
Padua (Italy)
Bologna (Italy)
16th century
17th century
18th century
Early modern
Università di Padova
Bologna. Università
University of Padua

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