A glimpse into the process of gaining permission for the educational dissection of human cadavers in the Ottoman Empire.Clin Anat. 2014 Oct; 27(7):964-71.CA
Dissection of the human body for educational purposes became officially permitted in the Ottoman Empire only after a long, difficult process. In the West, studies based on the findings of Galen had been taboo during a long period in which dissection of human bodies had been prohibited. Although the first dissection studies since ancient times began to appear in the Western literature in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, the post-Galen taboo against dissection was broken only in the 16th century by the studies of Vesalius. However, in the Eastern World, it was only fairly recently that the idea of the "sanctity of the human body" could be challenged. In the medieval Islamic world, as during the Middle Ages in the West, prohibitions against the dissection of human cadavers continued for social and religious reasons, although the Koran does not specifically ban such dissection. This prohibition also continued through the Ottoman era, which began in the 14th century. The first efforts to end the prohibition on dissection in the Ottoman Empire were made at the beginning of the 19th century during the reign of Sultan Selim III but official permission for dissection was given only in 1841 during the reign of Sultan Abdulmecid. Educational dissections in the Ottoman Empire officially began at the Istanbul Medical School following the granting of this permission. This article will discuss the attempts to end the prohibition of dissection in Ottomans within the scope of the history of anatomical study in Turkey.