Maceration in lime

Andreas Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, Basel: ex. off. J. Oporini, 1543, p. 3, initial C, woodcut 3.7 x 3.7 cm, N*.1.2(A).

The Fabrica contained practical information about how to articulate a skeleton. This section is very detailed and gives the impression that it was a procedure Vesalius himself had developed through trial and error. He criticized the traditional method of maceration in lime followed by cleansing in a fast-flowing river as ‘dirty and difficult’. This initial shows the box containing the body parts that are about to be placed in a stream. Vesalius explained that the box was covered with small holes in order to wash away the lime and flesh, but not the bones. Vesalius disapproved of this method because the processes, epiphyses, and depressions would be covered with blackened ligaments and would be impossible to see.