Executions and scientific anatomy.

  Vol. 36 (7) 2015 Neuro endocrinology letters Journal Article   2015; 36(7): 713-723 PubMed PMID:  26859596    Citation

: The very word "anatomy" tells us about this branch's connection with dissection. Studies of anatomy have taken place for approximately 2.300 years already. Anatomy's birthplace lies in Greece and Egypt. Knowledge in this specific field of science was necessary during surgical procedures in ophthalmology and obstetrics. Embalming took place without public disapproval just like autopsies and manipulation with relics. Thus, anatomical dissection became part of later forensic sciences. Anatomical studies on humans themselves, which needed to be compared with the knowledge gained through studying procedures performed on animals, elicited public disapprobation and prohibition. When faced with a shortage of cadavers, anatomists resorted to obtaining bodies of the executed and suicide victims - since torture, public display of the mutilated body, (including anatomical autopsy), were perceived as an intensification of the death penalty. Decapitation and hanging were the main execution methods meted out for death sentences. Anatomists preferred intact bodies for dissection; hence, convicts could thus avoid torture. This paper lists examples of how this process was resolved. It concerns the manners of killing, vivisection on people in the antiquity and middle-ages, experiments before the execution and after, vivifying from seeming death, experiments with galvanizing electricity on fresh cadavers, evaluating of sensibility after guillotine execution, and making perfect anatomical preparations and publications during Nazism from fresh bodies of the executed.

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