with the interior of the body goes back to the dawn of humanity.
The ancient Egyptians had specialized knowledge in some areas of
human anatomy, which they used in mummification and, to a limited
degree, surgery. Even before the advent of large organized cultures,
prehistoric peoples performed rituals with remains that indicate
familiarity with gross anatomy. Because they hunted and slaughtered
large animals for food, the Inuit and Australian aborigines, developed
a detailed knowledge of mammalian anatomy, and a complex vocabulary
of anatomical terms, which they applied to animals and humans.
paintings dating back to the Neolithic in Europe, Africa, and Australia
show schematic and expressive representations of the human interior,
as do some European, Islamic and Asian pre-modern manuscripts.
manikins and diagnostic dolls
1500 and 1800, anatomical knowledge based on human dissection circulated
mainly among Europe’s educated elite, in the form of books,
copperplate engravings, demonstrations and lectures in universities,
museums and libraries. But anatomical knowledge also circulated
in less lofty social locations, venues and media: in traveling shows,
cheap publications, loose woodcuts—and small "anatomical
manikins" carved from ivory and wood.
public regarded anatomical dissection as a curiosity, a wonder of
the age. Small, intricately carved, ivory "manikins,"
that opened to show the internal organs, represented this wonder.
They also represented the physical difference between male and female,
always a topic of interest, and may have been used as "diagnostic dolls" to help physicians and midwives explain a diagnosis to patients. Manikins typically came in pairs: a
male and pregnant female. The artistry and anatomy were usually
crude, but the figures were also sometimes deliberately whimsical.