Medieval Anatomy and the Rise of the Renaissance

  • January 17, 2022
  • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Zoom virtual meeting


Myriam Nafte

As a forensic anthropologist, Myriam Nafte is an active advisor and consultant for criminal casework across North America. She received a Specialized Honours BA in Medical Anthropology from York University, a BEd degree in Science from Brock University, and completed an MA and PhD in Physical Anthropology at McMaster University.

Currently, Nafte is an instructor at McMaster University where she teaches upper level courses on Global Health, Infectious Disease, and Narratives of Health and Illness. She continues to research the use of human remains as material culture, documenting their transition from cadaver to objects of power, identity and capital. Nafte is the author of numerous articles and books including Flesh and Bone: An Introduction to Forensic Anthropology, Crime and Measurement: Methods in Forensic Investigation, The Skin of Murder Victims: Fingerprints and Other Evidence [editor], and the forthcoming Trophies and Talismans: The Traffic of Human Remains.

Medieval Anatomy and the Rise of the Renaissance

What did Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Caravaggio and Rembrandt all have in common? They were not only great artists, but they practiced human dissection. Contrary to popular beliefs (and a persistent misinterpretation of history) the Catholic Church was not against human dissection, or the handling of human remains. In fact, many of the early church practices of making sacred relics from human body parts were passed down to artists and scientists who integrated such knowledge into their work.

This lecture explores the hidden symbols and meanings in various artworks from the late Medieval and early Renaissance era. Nafte discusses how the clergy alongside several Renaissance artists influenced dissection medicine and the modern autopsy.

See art from an anatomist’s perspective, as she uncovers the emerging dialogue between the human body, religion, and science.

This event is part of the Winter 2022 Speaker series. 

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