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The Dead Christ (1582) by Annibale Carracci
The Dead Christ (1582) by Annibale Carracci

"You are a little soul, carrying a corpse [...]" --Epictetus

Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c. 1480) by Andrea Mantegna
Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c. 1480) by Andrea Mantegna
The Death of Marat (1793) by Jacques-Louis David
The Death of Marat (1793) by Jacques-Louis David

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A cadaver is a dead human body. Normally used as a more formal name for bodies being used in medicine/doctor training, in university courses, for example.


History of using cadavers for dissection

Greek physician Herophilus, the “father of anatomy”, lived in 300 BC in Alexandria, Egypt. He was the first physician on record to have dissected bodies.

The tradition of dissecting criminals was carried up into the eighteenth and nineteenth century when anatomy schools became popular in England and Scotland. At that time, a greater percentage of Christians believed in the literal raising from the dead. Because the souls of dissected bodies could not go to heaven, people rarely offered their bodies to science. Criminals who were executed for their crimes were used as the first cadavers. The demand for cadavers increased when the number of criminals being executed decreased. Since corpses were in such high demand, it became commonplace to steal bodies from graves in order to keep the market supplied.

The methods of preserving cadavers have changed over the last 200 years. At that time, cadavers had to be used immediately because there were no adequate methods to keep the body from quickly decaying. Preservation was needed in order to carry out classes and lessons about the human body. Glutaraldehyde was the first main chemical used for embalming and preserving the body although leaves a yellow stain in the tissues, which can interfere with observation and research.

Formaldehyde is the chemical that is used as the main embalming chemical now. It is a colorless solution that maintains the tissue in its lifelike texture and can keep the body well preserved for an extended period.

Namesakes of the term cadaver


The term corpse is related to the term cadaver.

A corpse is the body of a dead animal, most frequently a human body.

Namesakes of the term corpse

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cadaver" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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