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The anatomy (the gain in knowledge serving, dissection 'of animal and human bodies, from ancient Greek ἀνά ana "on" and τομή tomé "cutting, the cut") is a section in the morphology and in the medicine and human biology (Anthropotomie) Zoology ( Zootomy ) and botany ( phytotomy ) the study of the inner structure of organisms .

Human head anatomy

The shape, position and structure of body parts, organs , tissues or cells are examined. The pathological anatomy deals with diseased body parts. The microscopic anatomy concerned with the finer biological structures up to the molecular level and is linked to the molecular biology of. Classical anatomy uses standardized nomenclature based on the Latin and Greek languages .

The term anatomy has been used in a more general and transposed way since the early 16th century (also as anatomy ) in the meaning of "dissection, structure determination, analysis of concrete and abstract things", also "structure, (construction) structure", e.g. B. Anatomy of the soil, art, thought, society .


Mayan bust

The earliest surviving anatomical studies are found in the Edwin Smith Papyrus , which dates back to around 1550 BC. Is dated. Are treated u. a. the heart and coronary arteries, liver, spleen and kidneys, hypothalamus , uterus and bladder, and blood vessels.

The Ebers papyrus from the last quarter of the 16th century BC Chr. Contains a treatise on the heart, in which the blood vessels are also described.

Nomenclature, methodology and applications go back to the ancient Greek doctors . Descriptions of muscles and skeleton can be found in the Corpus Hippocraticum (especially about the broken bones and about the joints ), whereby human physiology was more important than anatomy in Hippocratic medicine . Aristotle described the anatomy of vertebrates based on the dissection of animals. Praxagoras of Kos already knew in the 4th century BC The difference between arteries and veins.

The beginnings of a systematic anatomy originated in ancient Babylon. The first anatomical school existed in the 2nd century BC. In Alexandria. Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II allowed the body to be opened for anatomical studies, mostly on those who had been executed. Herophilos of Chalcedon carried out the first scientific autopsies and also vivisections on humans and animals. He is said to have dissected 600 live prisoners and is considered the "father of anatomy". He rejected Aristotle's view that the heart is the seat of the intellect and called it the brain. Other anatomists in Alexandria were Erasistratos and Eudemos of Alexandria .

Gerard de Lairesse : Anatomical drawing of a left hand with tendons. By Govard Bidloo : Anatomy of the Human Body , Jacob van Poolsum, Utrecht, 1728 (reprint of the 1690 edition).

In the 2nd century AD, Galen of Pergamon systematically summarized the medical knowledge of the ancient doctors. As a doctor of gladiators, he was able to study the most varied types of wounds and thus also the anatomy of humans. He conducted further studies with pigs and monkeys. His writings formed the basis for the works of the Middle Ages, including the canon of medicine in Avicenna .

Since around 1300, anatomical teaching sections were occasionally carried out, especially in northern Italy. The main purpose of such demonstrations, however, was to confirm the teachings of the ancient authors or authorities.

Rembrandt's "The Anatomy of Dr. Tulip "

From the 15th century on, anatomy received new impulses, inspired by ideas from humanism and the Renaissance. After anatomy had not made great progress in the Middle Ages, the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564) corrected the assumptions or beliefs that had hardly been questioned for centuries, which outraged many of his colleagues. His work made him the founder of modern anatomy. Based on Northern Italian models, anatomical instruction by dissecting human corpses became popular in German-speaking countries in the 16th century. For example, from 1530 at the latest in Germany, from 1535 by Burghard Mithobius (1501–1564) at the University of Marburg .

William Harvey is considered to be the discoverer of the blood circulation in the West and a pioneer of modern physiology .

Since then, anatomy has had a high priority in the fine arts, sections on humans and animals were part of the basic training of the students. Artists such as Michelangelo , Raffael , Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) spent years studying the human body. Da Vinci's Codex Windsor surpassed the work of Vesalius, born 62 years later, in its scientific accuracy. The close collaboration between artists and anatomists resulted in medical writings of exceptionally high quality, such as the textbook by Flemish Philip Verheyen (1648–1710).

In the Age of Enlightenment , anatomical theaters were built , which, in addition to their scientific value, had a high show value.

The first ever popular photographic anatomy atlas was published by Johannes W. Rohen and Chihiro Yokochi in 1982/83.

Work areas

Illustration of the human skeleton by Gerard de Lairesse in Govard Bidloo's Ontleding des Menschlyken lichaams from 1685. The vanitas symbols, coffin and hourglass justify the subject.

Macroscopic anatomy

The gross anatomy deals with the structure of the human, animal or plant, with all the things that can be seen with the naked eye. Not only externally visible structures are taken into account, but also the structures that can be observed after the body has been cut open and apart.

According to the nature of the approach, the macroscopic anatomy is divided:

  • The descriptive or descriptive anatomy is probably the most antiquated way of imparting the anatomy. With her, the individual structures of the body are only conveyed in terms of their external appearance. Functional, topographical and systematic aspects are not taken into account. In spite of all the disadvantages, the modern anatomy always has a descriptive part, because a doctor must be able to recognize pathological changes in an organ .
  • The topographical anatomy describes the individual structures of the body according to their spatial positional relationships to one another ( topos : Greek "place"). The great advantage is certainly that the doctor / veterinarian acquires very application-oriented knowledge. So it is e.g. For a hand surgeon, for example, it is not only important to which larger organ system a structure belongs; he must especially know where exactly the nerves , blood vessels and tendons run. Topographical-anatomical knowledge is also of great importance for the application of imaging processes . The topographic anatomy uses standardized position and direction designations that are independent of the current body position and instead uses relative reference points. Functional relationships can be inferred not only from structural and, in particular, topographical peculiarities of the structure of body shape and organs, but also in particular from the somatotopic structure of the nerve tissue.

  • The systematic anatomy , which had replaced the topographical anatomy in the 20th century, groups the individual structures of the body into functionally connected organ systems . This allows a certain categorization and makes learning easier, but it also has disadvantages. Topographical aspects, such as the doctor / veterinarian has to cope with in everyday clinical practice, are not taken into account. In addition, all organ systems are also linked to each other again, the skin z has. B. blood vessels , nerves , immune defense cells , etc.
  • The comparative anatomy studied the physique of various animal species. The classical biological system was already based on structural similarities and differences for the division from the rich to the species , but genetic differences are increasingly being included in the classification. By contrasting and contrasting different animal species, observations on one animal species can sometimes be interpreted in the first place. In addition, this comparison offers the possibility of recognizing certain basic structural principles and thus creating the basis for a common designation. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach gave his first lectures in the field of comparative anatomy from 1785. The physician, anatomist and physiologist Hermann Friedrich Stannius (1808–1883) from Rostock introduced the term zootomy , which almost entirely coincides with the term comparative anatomy.

Microscopic anatomy

Microscopic section of the cerebellum of a chicken

Microscopic anatomy ( histology ) is responsible for examining anatomical structures below the area that is visible to the naked eye . It describes the fine structure of organs, tissues and cells.


Embryology describes the formation of anatomical structures during embryonic development. A wide variety of topographical and functional relationships can be identified based on the history of its origins. Embryological knowledge is also indispensable for understanding the origin of malformations .

Tasks in medical education

Blackboard at the anatomy lecture hall in Leipzig

An important area of ​​anatomy is the provision of visual materials for medical education. This takes place in dissection courses and exercises, lecture events, anatomical collections, anatomical museums, comparative anatomical collections or anatomical teaching collections. The same applies to the creation of anatomical textbooks and atlases , in which fine drawings (line drawings) still have their didactic significance today.

The Viennese anatomy professor Josef Hyrtl wrote about anatomy in the second half of the 19th century: “[She] destroys a completed building with her hands in order to re-create it in her mind and, as it were, to recreate man. The human mind cannot set itself a more glorious task. Anatomy is one of the most attractive, and at the same time most thorough and perfect natural sciences, and has become one in a short time, as its era only spans a couple of centuries. "

See also

Literature (selection)

  • Gerhard Baader : On anatomy in Paris in the 13th and 14th centuries . In: Medizinhistorisches Journal , 3, 1968, pp. 40-53.
  • Axel W. Bauer : "De sedibus et causis morborum". The access of modern medicine to the dead body as a method of knowledge and a violation of limits . In: Würzburger medical history reports , 24, 2005, pp. 162–179.
  • Jean Marc Bourgery , NH Jacob: Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery. The complete colored plates of 1831-1854. Jean-Marie Le Minor, Henri Sick: Atlas of Anatomy and Surgery by JM Bourgery and NH Jacob. A monumental work of the 19th century. In three languages ​​(French, English, German), facsimile reprint 726 hand-colored lithographs, large format. Taschen, Cologne 2005, ISBN 978-2-286-01268-7 .
  • Heinz Feneis: Anatomical picture dictionary of international nomenclature. 2nd edition 1970; 4th edition 1974.
  • Werner Kahle, Helmut Leonhardt , Werner Platzer: Pocket Atlas of Anatomy. I-III, Stuttgart 1975 a. ö.
  • Gundolf Keil , Bernhard D. Haage, Wolfgang Wegner, Christoph Schweikardt: Anatomy. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil, Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , pp. 55-61.
  • Leonardo da Vinci : Anatomical Drawings. From the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. Hamburger Kunsthalle 1979.
  • Joachim-Hermann Scharf : The nomina anatomica in the system of scientific language through the ages. In: Negotiations of the anatomical society. Volume 80, 1986, pp. 27-73.
  • Ernst Seidl, Philipp Aumann: Body Knowledge. Knowledge between eros and disgust . MUT, Tübingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-9812736-1-8 .
  • Carl von Siebold and Hermann Stannius: Handbook of the zootomy . Volume 2. Veit, 1854.
  • Hermann Stannius : Manual of the anatomy of the vertebrates . Volume 1. Veit, 1854.
  • Ralf Vollmuth : The anatomical age. The anatomy of the Renaissance from Leonardo da Vinci to Andreas Vesal . Verlag Neuer Merkur, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-929360-70-5 .
  • Ralf Vollmuth: The anatomical age. Verlag Neuer Merkur, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-929360-70-5 .
  • Gordon Cheers: Anatomica, Body, and Health, The Complete Reference Guide . Tandem Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 978-3-8331-1286-7 .

Web links

Commons : Anatomy  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Anatomy  - Sources and full texts
Wiktionary: Anatomy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikibooks: Topographic Anatomy  - Learning and Teaching Materials
Wikibooks: Neuroanatomy  - Learning and Teaching Materials

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. for example Johann Dryander : The whole doctor's content, Wes a doctor, means in the theory and practice is entitled, with advertised doctors, on all physical ailments, by natural means, besides the human body anatomy, warhouses Contrafeyt, and to describe; All doctors, and to be at peace with oneself, and for one's needs, need to be useful, to have and to know. Ch.Egenolff , Frankfurt am Main 1542 ( Digatilisat der BSB ). And: Gundolf Keil: The anatomy term in Paracelsian disease theory. With a historical perspective on Samuel Hahnemann. In: Hartmut Boockmann, Bernd Moeller , Karl Stackmann (eds.): Life lessons and world designs in the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern age. Politics - Education - Natural History - Theology. Report on colloquia of the commission to research the culture of the late Middle Ages 1983 to 1987 (= treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen: philological-historical class. Volume III, No. 179). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1989, ISBN 3-525-82463-7 , pp. 336-351.
  2. ^ Hans Schulz, Otto Basler: German Foreign Dictionary . Tape. 1. De Gruyter, 1995.
  3. Compare, for example, the film title " Anatomy of a Murder ".
  4. ^ Roy Porter: The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present . HarperCollins , 1997, ISBN 0-00-215173-1 , pp. 49-50.
  5. ^ Roy Porter: The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (The Norton History of Science) . WW Norton, October 17, 1999, ISBN 978-0-393-31980-4 , pp. 49-50.
  6. ^ Charles Singer: A Short History of Anatomy & Physiology from Greeks to Harvey . Dover Publications Inc., New York 1957, p. 5.
  7. ^ Charles Coulston Gillispie : Dictionary of Scientific Biography , Volume VI. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1972, pp. 419-427.
  8. ^ Ferdinand Peter Moog: Praxagoras of Kos . In: Werner E. Gerabek u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of medical history . Berlin 2004, p. 1182.
  9. Joachim-Hermann Scharf : Beginnings of systematic anatomy and teratology in ancient Babylon. Berlin 1988 (= meeting reports of the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig, mathematical and natural science class. Volume 120, Issue 3).
  10. ^ Ak Shamsuddin Husain Siddiquey: History of Anatomy . In: Bangladesh Journal of Anatomy . 7, No. 1, 2009.
  11. Jutta Kollesch , Diethard Nickel : Ancient healing art. Selected texts from the medical writings of the Greeks and Romans. Philipp Reclam jun., Leipzig 1979 (= Reclams Universal Library. Volume 771); 6th edition ibid 1989, ISBN 3-379-00411-1 , p. 27 f.
  12. ^ Mary Roach: Stiff: The curious Lives of Human Cadavers . WW Norton, New York 2003, p. 41.
  13. ^ Charles Singer: A Short History of Anatomy & Physiology from Greeks to Harvey . Dover Publications Inc., New York 1957, p. 29.
  14. Ludwig Hopf: The beginnings of anatomy among the ancient civilized peoples . Рипол Классик, ISBN 978-5-88165-547-1 . P. 82.
  15. ^ Axel Karenberg : Neurology. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , pp. 1037-1044; here: p. 1041.
  16. ^ Marie Boas: The Scientific Renaissance 1450-1630 . Fontana, 1970, pp. 120, 248: "Vesalius, finding Galen full of errors, was quite certain that he had been able to eradicate them."
  17. ^ Rolf Heyers: Dr. Georg Marius, called Mayer von Würzburg (1533–1606). (Dental) medical dissertation Würzburg 1957, p. 33 f.
  18. ^ Marie Boas: The Scientific Renaissance 1450-1630 . Fontana, 1970, p. 262: "Like any sixteenth-century anatomist too he [Harvey] began with what Galen had taught, and managed to interpret Galen's words to win support for his new doctrine."
  19. Gottfried Zirnstein: William Harvey. (= Biographies of outstanding natural scientists, technicians and medical professionals . Volume 28). Teubner, Leipzig 1977.
  20. Philip Verheyn: Anatomy or dissection of the human body […]. Translated from Latin, Leipzig (Thomas Fritschen) 1708; Reprinted in Lindau in Lake Constance in 1981.
  21. Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Verheyen, Philippe. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 1440.
  22. Alfred Benninghoff a . a .: Textbook of human anatomy. Shown with preference given to functional relationships. Volume 3: Nervous System, Skin and Sensory Organs. Urban and Schwarzenberg, Munich 1964, pages 112-297.
  23. ^ Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. In: Allgemeine Zeitung München 1840, No. 34 (supplement of February 3, 1840), p. 265 f.
  24. Joseph Hyrtl: Textbook of Human Anatomy, with consideration for physiological justification and practical application. 11th edition, Vienna 1870, p. 9 f.