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From http://www.livescience.com/27624-mummy-h...atomy.html :




Grotesque Mummy Head Reveals Advanced Medieval Science
by Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor  |  March 05, 2013 09:31am ET


[Image: anatomyhead1.jpg]

In the second century, an ethnically Greek Roman named Galen became doctor to the gladiators. His glimpses into the human body via these warriors' wounds, combined with much more systematic dissections of animals, became the basis of Islamic and European medicine for centuries.

Galen's texts wouldn't be challenged for anatomical supremacy until the Renaissance, when human dissections — often in public — surged in popularity. But doctors in medieval Europe weren't as idle as it may seem, as a new analysis of the oldest-known preserved human dissection in Europe reveals.

The gruesome specimen, now in a private collection, consists of a human head and shoulders with the top of the skull and brain removed. Rodent nibbles and insect larvae trails mar the face. The arteries are filled with a red "metal wax" compound that helped preserve the body. [Gallery: Historic Images of Human Anatomy]

The preparation of the specimen was surprisingly advanced. Radiocarbon dating puts the age of the body between A.D. 1200 and A.D.1280, an era once considered part of Europe's anti-scientific "Dark Ages." In fact, said study researcher Philippe Charlier, a physician and forensic scientist at University Hospital R. Poincare in France, the new specimen suggests surprising anatomical expertise during this time period. 

"It's state-of-the-art," Charlier told LiveScience. "I suppose that the preparator did not do this just one time, but several times, to be so good at this."


Myths of the middle ages

Historians in the 1800s referred to the Dark Ages as a time of illiteracy and barbarianism, generally pinpointing the time period as between the fall of the Roman Empire and somewhere in the Middle Ages. To some, the Dark Ages didn't end until the 1400s, at the advent of the Renaissance.

But modern historians see the Middle Ages quite differently. That's because continued scholarship has found that the medieval period wasn't so ignorant after all. [Busted! 10 Medieval Myths]

"There was considerable scientific progress in the later Middle Ages, in particular from the 13th century onward," said James Hannam, an historian and author of "The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution" (Regnery Publishing, 2011).

For centuries, the advancements of the Middle Ages were forgotten, Hannam told LiveScience. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it became an "intellectual fad," he said, for thinkers to cite ancient Greek and Roman sources rather than scientists of the Middle Ages. In some cases, this involved straight-up fudging. Renaissance mathematician Copernicus, for example, took some of his thinking on the motion of the Earth from Jean Buridan, a French priest who lived between about 1300 and 1358, Hannam said. But Copernicus credited the ancient Roman poet Virgil as his inspiration.

Much of this selective memory stemmed from anti-Catholic feelings by Protestants, who split from the church in the 1500s.

As a result, "there was lots of propaganda about how the Catholic Church had been holding back human progress, and it was great that we were all Protestants now," Hannam said.


Anatomical dark ages?

From this anti-Catholic sentiment arose a great many myths, such as the idea that everyone believed the world to be flat until Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas. ("They thought nothing of the sort," Hannam said.)

Similarly, Renaissance propagandists spread the rumor that the Medieval Christian church banned autopsy and human dissection, holding back medical progress.

In fact, Hannam said, many societies have banned or limited the carving up of human corpses, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to early Europeans (that's why Galen was stuck dissecting animals and peering into gladiator wounds). But autopsies and dissection were not under a blanket church ban in the Middle Ages. In fact, the church sometimes ordered autopsies, often for the purpose of looking for signs of holiness in the body of a supposedly saintly person.

The first example of one of these "holy autopsies" came in 1308, when nuns conducted a dissection of the body of Chiara of Montefalco, an abbess who would be canonized as a saint in 1881. The nuns reported finding a tiny crucifix in the abbess' heart, as well as three gallstones in her gallbladder, which they saw as symbolic of the Holy Trinity.

Other autopsies were entirely secular. In 1286, an Italian physician conducted autopsies in order to pinpoint the origin of an epidemic, according to Charlier and his colleagues.

Some of the belief that the church frowned on autopsies may have come from a misinterpretation of a papal edict from 1299, in which the Pope forbade the boiling of the bones of dead Crusaders. That practice ensured Crusaders' bones could be shipped back home for burial, but the Pope declared the soldiers should be buried where they fell.

"That was interpreted in the 19th century as actually being a stricture against human dissection, which would have surprised the Pope," Hannam said.


[b]Well-studied head[/b]

While more investigation of the body was going on in the Middle Ages than previously realized, the 1200s remain the "dark ages" in the sense that little is known about human anatomical dissections during this time period, Charlier said. When he and his colleagues began examining the head-and-shoulders specimen, they suspected it would be from the 1400s or 1500s.

"We did not think it was so antique," Charlier said.

[Image: anatomyhead2.jpg]

But radiocarbon dating put the specimen firmly in the 1200s, making it the oldest European anatomical preparation known. Most surprisingly, Charlier said, the veins and arteries are filled with a mixture of beeswax, lime and cinnabar mercury. This would have helped preserve the body as well as give the circulatory system some color, as cinnabar mercury has a red tint. 

Thus, the man's body was not simply dissected and tossed away; it was preserved, possibly for continued medical education, Charlier said. The man's identity, however, is forever lost. He could have been a prisoner, an institutionalized person, or perhaps a pauper whose body was never claimed, the researchers write this month in the journal Archives of Medical Science.

The specimen, which is in private hands, is set to go on display at the Parisian Museum of the History of Medicine, Charlier said. 

"This is really interesting from a historical and archaeological point of view," Charlier said, adding, "We really have a lack of skeletons and anthropological pieces."


Thanks for posting this. I have such a fascination with the Middle Ages, I find them intriguing partially due to how much we simply don't know because of the way we perceive it. I'm glad to see the science is being done that shows just how advanced and un-backward society was then.
(04-15-2015, 10:28 AM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]Thanks for posting this. I have such a fascination with the Middle Ages, I find them intriguing partially due to how much we simply don't know because of the way we perceive it. I'm glad to see the science is being done that shows just how advanced and un-backward society was then.

I remember hearing some lectures a number of years ago about C.S. Lewis and how he pointed out something to the effect of that each "age" tends to think of itself as the epitome and height of advancement in all things--science, literature, culture, etc.  If I remember correctly he pointed out that the "modern" age is particularly arrogant about and guilty of this.  I wish I could recall where it was said he spoke/wrote about this!!  For some reason I want to think it was in "The Abolition of Man", which I have but haven't read yet.  But if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know!
(04-15-2015, 12:08 PM)J Michael Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-15-2015, 10:28 AM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]Thanks for posting this. I have such a fascination with the Middle Ages, I find them intriguing partially due to how much we simply don't know because of the way we perceive it. I'm glad to see the science is being done that shows just how advanced and un-backward society was then.

I remember hearing some lectures a number of years ago about C.S. Lewis and how he pointed out something to the effect of that each "age" tends to think of itself as the epitome and height of advancement in all things--science, literature, culture, etc.  If I remember correctly he pointed out that the "modern" age is particularly arrogant about and guilty of this.  I wish I could recall where it was said he spoke/wrote about this!!  For some reason I want to think it was in "The Abolition of Man", which I have but haven't read yet.  But if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know!

Sounds like the Abolition of Man, which I recommend everyone read. I also highly recommend this commentary on it by the recently departed Fr Thomas Hopko:

If he said that, he was certainly wrong. The Greeks, for one, had a conception of the ages of man, with the ages being Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron, the present age.  The ancients knew decline, and they knew that things were not as happy as they once were.

Progress is an entirely modern invention, and it strikes me as a particularly Protestant one at that.
(04-15-2015, 12:08 PM)J Michael Wrote: [ -> ]I remember hearing some lectures a number of years ago about C.S. Lewis and how he pointed out something to the effect of that each "age" tends to think of itself as the epitome and height of advancement in all things.

He called it "chronological snobbery". Owen Barfield made him see this, as he recounted in Surprised by Joy (chapter 13):

Quote:First Harwood (still without changing his expression), and then Barfield, embraced the doctrines of Steiner and became anthroposophists. I was hideously shocked. Everything I had labored so hard to expel from my own life seemed to have flared up and met me in my best friends. Not only my best friends but those whom I would have thought safest; the one so immovable, the other brought up in a free-thinking family and so immune from all "superstition" that he had hardly heard of Christianity itself until he went to school. (The gospel first broke on Barfield in the form of a dictated list of Parables Peculiar to St. Matthew.) Not only in my seeming-safest friends but at a moment when we all had most need to stand together. And as I came to learn (so far as I ever have learned) what Steiner thought, my horror turned into disgust and resentment. For here, apparently, were all the abominations; none more abominable than those which had once attracted me. Here were gods, spirits, afterlife and pre-existence, initiates, occult knowledge, meditation. "Why–damn it–it's medieval," I exclaimed; for I still had all the chronological snobbery of my period and used the names of the earlier periods as terms of abuse.

Barfield never made me an Anthroposophist, but his counterattacks destroyed forever two elements in my own thought. In the first place he made short work of what I have called my "chronological snobbery," the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also "a period," and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.
Related: A thousand-year-old medieval remedy for eye infections which was discovered in a manuscript in the British Library has been found to kill the superbug MRSA.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/...-MRSA.html
(04-15-2015, 02:53 PM)ecclesiastes Wrote: [ -> ]
(04-15-2015, 12:08 PM)J Michael Wrote: [ -> ]I remember hearing some lectures a number of years ago about C.S. Lewis and how he pointed out something to the effect of that each "age" tends to think of itself as the epitome and height of advancement in all things.

He called it "chronological snobbery". Owen Barfield made him see this, as he recounted in Surprised by Joy (chapter 13):

Quote:First Harwood (still without changing his expression), and then Barfield, embraced the doctrines of Steiner and became anthroposophists. I was hideously shocked. Everything I had labored so hard to expel from my own life seemed to have flared up and met me in my best friends. Not only my best friends but those whom I would have thought safest; the one so immovable, the other brought up in a free-thinking family and so immune from all "superstition" that he had hardly heard of Christianity itself until he went to school. (The gospel first broke on Barfield in the form of a dictated list of Parables Peculiar to St. Matthew.) Not only in my seeming-safest friends but at a moment when we all had most need to stand together. And as I came to learn (so far as I ever have learned) what Steiner thought, my horror turned into disgust and resentment. For here, apparently, were all the abominations; none more abominable than those which had once attracted me. Here were gods, spirits, afterlife and pre-existence, initiates, occult knowledge, meditation. "Why–damn it–it's medieval," I exclaimed; for I still had all the chronological snobbery of my period and used the names of the earlier periods as terms of abuse.

Barfield never made me an Anthroposophist, but his counterattacks destroyed forever two elements in my own thought. In the first place he made short work of what I have called my "chronological snobbery," the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also "a period," and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.

Thanks!

And, to you too, Dirigible!!
(04-15-2015, 01:01 PM)Cyriacus Wrote: [ -> ]If he said that, he was certainly wrong. The Greeks, for one, had a conception of the ages of man, with the ages being Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron, the present age.  The ancients knew decline, and they knew that things were not as happy as they once were.

Progress is an entirely modern invention, and it strikes me as a particularly Protestant one at that.

Actually, according to the book I just read, it is. It went hand-in-hand with the Renaissance.
(04-15-2015, 10:21 PM)PrairieMom Wrote: [ -> ]Actually, according to the book I just read, it is. It went hand-in-hand with the Renaissance.

What book is that?
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