Boiling with a large cauldron

Andreas Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, Basel: ex. off. J. Oporini, 1543, A1r, initial O, woodcut 7.2 x 7.8 cm N*.1.2(A).

Instead of maceration, Vesalius recommended his ‘easy’ method of boiling using a large cauldron like the ones used to boil lye. This method sounds very much like a cooking instruction: once all the bones are placed in the cauldron, pour in enough water so that the bones are covered at all times, and keep the liquid clear by removing the scum and fat that rise to the surface ‘as one does in cooking’. The point of this boiling procedure is to enable the bones to be scraped clean with a knife, as one does with ‘meat for eating’. Here, in this initial O, putti are shown placing the head into a large cauldron of boiling water.