The Importance of Understand Human Anatomy Essay Sample
Is it important to understand human anatomy? The answer to this question goes back to the beginning of human race. The basic knowledge about human anatomy was acquired thousands, if not a million, years ago. The first humans could use this knowledge for such basic purposes as to know how and where to hit their enemies (also humans). The stone thrown into the forehead did not kill; however, the person hit in the temple could die instantly. The arrow piercing the heart did the same job. The first humans learned the anatomical location of body organs by everyday experience. Later shamans and patriarchs, who carried it through the centuries, adding new discoveries to this knowledge, preserved this knowledge. With time, this knowledge helped healers to heal and worriers to kill. The first medicine evolved and human anatomy was very important for its development.
Human anatomy was equally important for the development of art. Painting and sculpture used human anatomy as a source of knowledge about human body. The Ancient Greeks and Romans mastered this knowledge to such extent that they could reproduce human body with almost identical similarity. Later, the painters and sculptors of the Renaissance followed their example, turning to science and medicine to better master the art.
The fourteenth century ushered in a new period of civilization called the Renaissance. Prior to this new era the teaching of anatomy had been based largely upon the dissection of animals, but in the thirteenth century, even this limited procedure of direct observation was largely superseded by the Arabic influence, which led to efforts to teach anatomy wholly from textbooks. Although the Arabic influence was to be cast off eventually, yet anatomy was still to suffer from strictures arisen from a misunderstanding of the position of the church.
The idea of importance to understand human anatomy for art is further supported by O’Malley and Sounders (1952). Meanwhile it has become fashionable to suggest that artists were the true anatomists and had better knowledge of the subject from approximately the period of Giotto to Leonardo da Vinci. This belief arises from a study of their paintings. Among artists the important thing was detail; among anatomists it was system. The artist from observation could draw superficial muscles correctly; the anatomist might be well acquainted with them and far more capable of relating them to the rest of the human structure, but he was incapable of good draughtsmanship. Leonardo at times unwittingly emphasizes the distinction when he fails in his efforts to draw from memory some structure, which he can draw superbly from direct observation. If we follow the anatomist from the superficial to the deeper structures it is possible to point out many errors, but here it is impossible to make any comparison with the artists since with the exception of Leonardo who, be it remembered, thought of anatomy as a separate discipline, none of them pursued the study this far. (O’Malley & Sounders, 1952)
Anatomical teaching in Britain commenced officially in Edinburgh in 1505 when the magistrates of that city granted a Seal of Cause to the Guild of Surgeons and Barbers. (Harvey, 1961) This was confirmed by James IV in the following year. As Munk (1878) points out, the first mention of anatomical lectures for physicians is to be found in the College Annals for 1569-1570. The best account of its foundation and scope is that given by Holinshed (1587).
Anatomy has always been important for medicine. The medicine used anatomy for healing humans. According to the definition by Henry Gray (1918) “The term human anatomy comprises a consideration of the various structures which make up the human organism. In a restricted sense it deals merely with the parts which form the fully developed individual and which can be rendered evident to the naked eye by various methods of dissection” (p.1).
The modern world produced the new needs of importance to understand human anatomy. It is widely used in forensic medicine – to define the cause and the exact time of death. Autopsy has become a usual procedure and the understanding of human anatomy is a must. Sportsmen need anatomy to better understand the way their body works and to improve their techniques. The modern technologies give many possibilities for better understanding human anatomy. The new methods such as X-raying and ultrasonic scanning allow penetrating inside the body and seeing the organs without cutting tissues.
However, human anatomy, although not an entirely tabula rasa now, still has many puzzles that need to be explained. Symmetry in the structure of the human body and the mysterious golden section of Leonardo da Vinci, some parts of brain the functions of which are still not clear for scientists.
The importance of understanding human anatomy is found in the past, the present and the future of studying human anatomy. The science is developing everyday and the things that seemed unreal yesterday today seem usual. For example, echocardiography, arthrosonography, nephrosonography and hepatic sonography or echoscopy would seem magic for the physicians of the time of Leonardo. The dissection of the dead bodies was their only method of studying human anatomy. What the future methods of studying human anatomy could be? Perhaps, some new technology will evolve with its application for studying anatomy. Answering the question, asked in the beginning of this work, it could be said that importance of understanding human anatomy will be actual as long as the human body exists. For as long as human body exists, there is the necessity to study it and to heal it; because human body is fragile and is prone to injuries and illnesses. Human anatomy as a discipline is one of the oldest sciences and will always be one of the most important sciences for human beings.
Gray, H. (1918). Anatomy of the Human Body. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger.
Harvey, W. (1961). Lectures on the Whole of Anatomy: An Annotated Translation of Prelectiones Anatomiae Universalis. Translated by O’Malley Ch., Poynter F. & Russell, K. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Holinshed, R. (1587). The First and Second [and third] Volumes of Chronicles . . . now newlie augmented and continued . . . to the yeare 1586 by John Hooker, London, III, 1349.
Munk, W. (1878). The Roll of the College of Physicians of London. London, I, 69.
O’Malley Ch. & Sounders B. (1952). Leonardo Da Vinci on the Human Body: The Anatomical, Physiological, and Embryological Drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci. New York: Henry Schuman.