does 300 years really make a difference ?

by Crezy90 on March 30, 2016 - 5:57pm

Empirical Observations

The rare book, which I had the chance to see and examine during the two periods, was titled: The Works of Ambrose Parey, the anatomy of a man’s body. The book itself is very big, approximately 12’ by 8’, different from the textbooks that students have today. The first time I tried to weight the book I was surprise on how light it was, I was expecting way heavier but you still have to use two hands to handle the book properly. When you first open the book it smells ancient rag and dust. The book presents itself with brown leather all around; also there are some engravings on the sides of the book. The book being from the 17th century is damage on the outside some parts of the cover are missing and it is slowly disintegrating, they are also scratches on the cover page. On the inside the pages are conserved nicely even though they are signs that someone spilled water or that the book was in the water for a short period, they are also some edges of pages that are trimmed out from normal use. As for the writing it is perfect all the writings are intact and still very easy to read. The book uses a format of “books” to divide itself just like in the present day there is chapters and then is subdivided in chapters. All the chapters for the most part also have an illustration for the reader.



This book concerns the anatomy of a man’s body, meaning that the people who at that time had the ability to read and afford this book were the nobility, doctors and the rich society. The typical reader had read similar novels before or just wanted to instruct himself on the human body. The content of this book is what really surprised me on the second day at the Osler. The quality of the explanation on how human body is made is so convincing and so believable even though most of the techniques used are based on few experiments and traditions. Knowledge in the present day is accessible to everyone that really want it, but at the time the first edition of Parey’s masterpiece was published books were expensive. Now most of the material that is covered is presented in med school and in textbook. The person that read thru all this was truly dedicated to learn about a man’s body, the book being 703 pages (twice the size of a normal page). As for the knowledge that they had back then concerning the medicine itself was very fascinating. By reading an article about how to use a stingray to its full potential it made me understand that at that time people made it work with what they had, with the knowledge they had, and what other people had showed them. They used it to relief pain: “Yet pliny affirms, that it is good against the pain of the teeth, if the gum be scarified therewith,yea, and it being made into with white Hellebore, or of it feelt, will cause the teeth to fall out without pain.” (481). The knowledge we have today on anaesthesia is really different but I do not think that the production of knowledge was different back then, we just evolved with technology. The knowledge we have on medicine is for sure more advance because we have more technologies but we still share it with everyone who can afford it. Not everybody can afford to go to med school. 


Parey, Ambrose. The Anatomy of Man's Body. Golden Ball Agains the Royal Exchange in the City of Cornbil: Fof. Hindmarsh, 1678. Print.

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