Book One -- The things that sustain and support the entire body, and what braces and attaches them all. [the bones and the ligaments that interconnect them] | Chapter 39 By What Method the Bones and Cartilages of the Human Body May Be Prepared for Inspection

What bones are most useful for teaching

Unassembled bones, placed individually in a long box, can be viewed separately at any time and can teach everything bearing on the knowledge of bones. When assembled and set upright, they do not show the depressions and heads of the bones so well, and to tell the truth they are more conducive to display than to teaching. The bones best suited to teaching are those which have been removed from Italian graves built like storage cabinets 26 (as they nearly all are here) and put beneath an impluvium or at any rate exposed to the breeze in such a way that from time to time they receive rainwater. Besides the fact that such graves are damp, water often comes in as well; as a result everything attached to the bones very quickly rots, so that when removed after a few years and rinsed off they are quite intact and show everything that needs to be seen 27 if they are placed severally and unassembled in a box. They are quite useless for assembly, not only because of their extraordinary hardness 28 but also because the cartilages of the ribs and the whole body are destroyed; if any are found they are brittle from decay and everywhere separate from the bones. Also useless for this purpose are bones which are dug from the ground in other nations and piled in heaps in cemeteries. Besides the fact that they are affected with decay because of the dryness of the earth, you will never find all the bones of the same person as you will in the graves I mentioned earlier, even in the cemetery of the Innocents at Paris. 29 There if anywhere you will find a great many heaps of bones which are dug from the earth. When I was first learning the bones with Matthaeus Terminus, an outstanding physician in all branches of medicine, and, while I live, my most learned companion in the pursuit of studies, 30 these heaps supplied us such a rich abundance of bones that once instructed by the long and tireless habit of inspecting them, we sometimes dared to wager with our friends that even blindfolded, no bone could be handed us from so many heaps for the space of a half hour but we could distinguish by touch what kind it was. We had to do this the more intensively as we were at a loss for instruction in this part of medicine, eager though we were to learn.



Book One -- The things that sustain and support the entire body, and what braces and attaches them all. [the bones and the ligaments that interconnect them] | Chapter 39 By What Method the Bones and Cartilages of the Human Body May Be Prepared for Inspection