This diorama illustrates what may have taken place during a disection in the University of Bologna in the 14th century. The body, of an executed criminal, is being studied by a group of students. An attendant waits with a bucket to take away the disected parts. At this time, bodies could not be preserved, so disections had to begin with the part of the body which started to decay first, the abdomen. The chest and neck were displayed next, and finally the muscles and bones of the limbs. The disection would follow the principles laid down by the Italian Mondino De Luzzi (c 1270-1326) in a practical manual published in 1316. The scene is based on an illustration from a very important book by a Frenchman, Guy de Chauliac (c 1300-1367).
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library