History Anatomists

Ancient anatomy Egypt The study of anatomy begins at least as early as 1600 BCE, the date of the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. This treatise shows that the heart, its vessels, liver, spleen, kidneys, hypothalamus, uterus and bladder were recognized, and that the blood vessels were known to emanate from the heart. Other vessels are described, some carrying air, some mucus, and two to the right ear are said to carry the "breath of life", while two to the left ear the "breath of death". The Ebers papyrus (c. 1550 BCE) features a treatise on the heart. It notes that the heart is the center of the blood supply, with vessels attached for every member of the body. The Egyptians seem to have known little about the function of the kidneys and made the heart the meeting point of a number of vessels which carried all the fluids of the body blood, tears, urine and spermGreeceThe earliest medical scientist of whose works any great part survives today is Hippocrates, a Greek physician active in the late 5th and early 4th centuries BCE (460 - 377 BCE). His work demonstrates a basic understanding of musculoskeletal structure, and the beginnings of understanding of the function of certain organs, such as the kidneys. Much of his work, however, and much of that of his students and followers later, relies on speculation rather than empirical observation of the body. One of the greatest achievements of Hippocrates was that he was the first to discover the tricuspid valve of the heart and its function which he documented in the treatise On the Heart in the Hippocratic Corpus.