Comparative Guts

From Observation to Text: The Guts according to Aristotle

Copyright: ATLOMY (ERC StG GA 852550)
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Bronze retractor, Roman, 1-100 CE. Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0. International (CC BY 4.0)

Sacrificial rituals were a common means to observe and learn about internal anatomy in ancient Greece. Aristotle investigated the body also by means of methodical dissections and vivisections of animals, ranging from mollusca and insects to pigs and bulls; and he often refers to pigs and dogs as sources for learning about human anatomy. Archaeological excavations have revealed tools used in such dissections, such as the hook in the foreground of the exhibit. Aristotle described his observations and understanding of internal anatomy in his zoological works, especially the treatise Inquiries of Animals, which, like other Ancient Greek writings, has reached us in form of manuscripts copied in the Middle Ages; at the top of the exhibit you can see the opening lines from one such manuscript. Follow the next images or click Read the History to learn about how we have created a 3D reconstruction of Aristotle’s ideas of guts from the written description he left us.