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Anatomy in Alexandria in the Third Century B.C.*

  • James Longrigg (a1)

Extract

The most striking advances in the knowledge of human anatomy and physiology that the world had ever known—or was to know until the seventeenth century A.D.—took place in Hellenistic Alexandria. The city was founded in 331 B.C. by Alexander the Great. After the tatter's death in 323 B.C. and the subsequent dissolution of his empire, it became the capital of one of his generals, Ptolemy, son of Lagus, who established the Ptolemaic dynasty there. The first Ptolemy, subsequently named Soter (the Saviour), and his son Ptolemy Philadelphus (who succeeded him in 285 B.C.), became immensely enriched by their exploitation of Egypt and raised the city to a position of great wealth and magnificence. Anxious to enhance both their own reputation and the prestige of the kingdom, they sought to rival the cultural and scientific achievements not only of other Hellenistic rulers but even of Athens herself. Their patronage of the arts and sciences, coupled with their establishment of the Museum (an institute for literary studies and scientific research as well as a temple of the Muses), together with the Library, made the city the centre of Hellenistic culture. Philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, artists, poets and physicians were all encouraged to come and work there.

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Anatomy in Alexandria in the Third Century B.C.*

  • James Longrigg (a1)

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