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Abstract

The Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Şahane (the Imperial School of Medicine) has long held a privileged place in the literature on late Ottoman medicine due to its being a landmark institution embodying the nineteenth-century Ottoman state’s commitment to modernizing medical education and public health services. Despite the extensive scholarly attention devoted to the school, its academic stuff, and its facilities, however, there are still many gaps in our knowledge about this important institution. The current article seeks to fill one such gap by focusing on the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye anatomy museum (fenn-i teşrih numunehanesi) and, as a necessary extension, on the dissecting room, with the aim of casting light on the anatomical teaching aids purchased for or donated to the school, ranging from cadavers and teratological specimens to the detachable anatomical models of Auzoux and the anatomical preparations by Hyrtl. Inspired by and aiming to contribute to studies on the material culture of medicine, I investigate the ways in which these anatomical artifacts, specimens, and cadavers traveled and were traded as gifts and commodities across and within the borders of the Ottoman Empire. Such an investigation will reveal a variety of actors with different stakes involved in the procurement, collection, and acquisition processes. It will also demonstrate how economic incentives and personal connections beyond, or in parallel to, scientific missions spurred the transfer of anatomical objects and specimens from their site of origin to institutional and private collections.

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I am thankful to Yakoob Ahmed, Cem Hakan Başaran, Philippe Bourmaud, Nurçin İleri, Aude Aylin de Tapia, Özgür Türesay, and Seçil Yılmaz for their contributions to this paper in various ways. I would also like to express my gratitude to two anonymous referees of the European Journal of Turkish Studies for their invaluable suggestions and comments.

  • 1 For details about the background of this diplomatic mission, see Ercan 1991: 73-76.
  • 2 Although Seyyid Vahid Efendi (?-1828) does not mention the Josephinum by name in the Sefâretnâme, h (...)
  • 3 “Ve fî külli şey’in lehû âyetun tedüllü ‘alâ ennehû vâhidun” (Herşeyde O’nun birliğini gösteren bir (...)

1Dispatched to Napoleon I as an envoy by Sultan Selim III, Seyyid (Mehmed Emin) Vahid Efendi set out from Istanbul in December 1806 and, en route to Paris through Warsaw, he stopped over in several cities, including Vienna (Seyyid Vahid Efendi 1886-87: 4-5, 18-31).1 By the time the Habsburg capital welcomed the Ottoman envoy, it had been one of the foremost medical hubs in Europe, owing this reputation to the public health reforms launched from the 1740s onward by Maria Theresia and furthered by her son, Joseph II (Bonner 1995: 28; Maerker 2012: 732-33). The Holy Roman Emperor had also enhanced the city’s renown by crowning it with the Allgemeines Krankenhaus (the General Hospital) in 1784 and, a year later, with the Josephinum (the Military Medico-Surgical Academy), for which he acquired a massive collection of wax anatomical models crafted at the ceroplastic workshop of La Specola, the Royal Museum of Physics and Natural History in Florence (Maerker 2012: 731). And it was this very collection that would impress Seyyid Vahid Efendi when he was taken on a tour of the Josephinum, as is evident by his enthusiastic description in the Sefâretnâme (book of embassy missions) of the lifelike wax figures (Seyyid Vahid Efendi 1886-87: 23).2 What apparently captivated him more than these anatomical artifacts, however, were the fetuses of conjoined twins with two heads and extra limbs. Displayed in glass jars filled with spirits, these teratological specimens prompted the Ottoman envoy to praise the superiority of Viennese medicine and led him to contemplate God by quoting a verse from a poem in Arabic: “In everything there is a sign proclaiming his oneness.” (24).3

  • 4 In the context of early Ottoman and non-Ottoman cosmographies, Sariyannis (2015: 445-46) and Coşkun (...)

2With little doubt, the way Seyyid Vahid Efendi articulated his encounter with the spectacle of anatomy exhibits was a reflection not only of his own understanding of nature and the universe, but also of the legacy of Islamic literary and scientific traditions in the Ottoman world, as best epitomized in medieval and early modern cosmographical and geographical works and travel accounts. To the representatives of these genres, from the renowned cosmographer Zakariyya al-Qazwini (1203-83) to the famous Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi (1611-85), everything in the cosmos, including the “oddities of creation” (acâib/garâib-i hilkat; sing. acîbe/garîbe-i hilkat), a phrase used commonly in Ottoman society and the larger Islamicate world to denote humans and animals with extraordinary physical features (dubbed “monsters” in Western medical and popular literature) was nothing but a testament to God’s unfathomable power.4 In line with this ontological and epistemological stance, references to Quranic verses and hadith as well as expressions glorifying God appeared in such texts as a narrative device in order to invite readers to meditate on the omnipotence of the Creator when faced with strange and rare phenomena (Sariyannis 2015; Coşkun 2020; Özay Diniz 2017: 132-45). Against this backdrop, Seyyid Vahid Efendi’s reflection on the teratological specimens should be regarded as neither fortuitous nor surprising in the sense that it was engendered by this holistic theological vision of the cosmos embedded in culture and quotidian life.

3Over the course of the nineteenth century and well after that, the theological discourse surrounding oddities and wonders did not fade away; if anything, it persisted, for instance, in Ottoman periodicals which rarely failed to highlight God’s will and wisdom while covering extraordinary or “monstrous” births and strange occurrences. However, the century also saw the rise of a new discourse in tandem with the emergence of a new site of knowledge making, the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Adliye-i Şahane (the Imperial Military School of Medicine, henceforth Mekteb-i Tıbbiye), where physicians offered an alternative approach to understanding the human body and its defects and pathologies by integrating the anatomo-clinical method into teaching and research. Underpinned by the legacy of preceding military educational institutions such as the Tıbhâne-i Âmire (the Medical School, founded in 1827) and the Cerrahhâne-i Mamûre (the School of Surgery, founded in 1832), the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye’s opening at Galatasaray in 1839 was a momentous event for its time. Particularly during the first decade of its establishment, the school became the showcase institution representing the Ottoman state’s commitment to modernizing medical education and public health services in the empire with the help of physicians hired from Vienna. The most important precursor of this commitment came in 1841 with the long-awaited permission to use human cadavers in anatomy classes. Within a short while, the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye expanded its facilities to meet the standards of a decent medical school by adding an outpatient clinic, a printing-press, laboratories of chemistry and physics, a botanical garden, herbarium, and museums (numunehane) of natural history, anatomy, and zoology among other things, which together helped the school make a name for itself among its European counterparts.

  • 5 For an elaborate study on the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye’s natural history museum and herbarium, see Çelik 20 (...)
  • 6 In her comprehensive reference book covering the early years of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye at Galatasaray (...)

4While the natural history collections and the botanical garden of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye have taken the lion’s share of scholarly interest so far, the other facilities mentioned above have remained relatively understudied, in most part due to the sporadic nature of available sources.5 This article is an attempt to fill one gap in this respect by focusing on the anatomy museum (fenn-i teşrih numunehanesi) and, as a necessary extension, on the dissecting room, with the particular aim of casting light on the anatomical models, preparations, specimens, and cadavers, which, for the sake of brevity, might be called “anatomical things,” like those Seyyid Vahid Efendi witnessed and admired in the Josephinum.6 Seyyid Vahid Efendi died in 1828 (Ercan 1991: 84). But if he had lived long enough and visited the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye sometime around 1846, what he would have seen in the dissecting room and anatomy museum would have been the cadavers of slaves and convicts, detachable models of the human body manufactured in the factory of the French anatomist Louis Thomas Jérôme Auzoux, some minutely injected anatomical preparations made by the Viennese anatomist Josef Hyrtl, and teratological specimens in glass jars, not to mention bones, skulls, and skeletons. In other words, he would have witnessed the rising significance of visual and tactile anatomical materials in training and research at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, thanks to the sweeping impact of the anatomo-clinical method at the time on medical epistemology and practice.

  • 7 For some important contributions to the literature on the material culture of medicine that inspire (...)

5Hence, each section of this article, with the exception of the first, which briefly examines the early years of the Tıbhâne and Cerrahhâne as a prelude to the following sections, will elaborate on one anatomical thing mentioned above. Inspired by studies on the material culture of medicine that trace the circulation and fate of anatomical things in the medical and museum market, my intent is to explore the ways in which anatomical things traveled and were traded across and within the borders of the Ottoman Empire as gifts and commodities to crowd the museum’s collections and illustrate lectures.7 Such an investigation inevitably invites attention to the social relationships surrounding these museological and educational materials. Accordingly, I will highlight a variety of actors and institutions involved in the procurement, collection, and acquisition processes throughout the article, trying to demonstrate how economic calculations and personal connections beyond, or in parallel to, scientific missions spurred and facilitated the transfer of anatomical objects and specimens from their site of origin to institutional and private collections.

6Scholars across various disciplines, who focus on the circulation and transfer of knowledge and artifacts or object biographies, emphasize that things do not remain immutable when they move in time and space, from one context and locality to another, but rather acquire new uses, meanings, and histories through interaction with humans and other things (Kopytoff 2013 [1986]: 64-66; Alberti 2005: 559-71; Raj 2007: 20-21). Having this crucial perspective in mind, I have tried to locate every piece of information on the anatomical things at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye to understand how students and professors used, interpreted, and appropriated them, but with little success. However, my research on the school’s sources of supply for teratological specimens has proved to be somewhat more fruitful. Though I am still unable to provide insight into the ways in which these specimens were preserved and used in the teaching of anatomy, I will hopefully be able to demonstrate, in the last section of this article, how the emerging demand for rare anatomical specimens in the local market, though often with trans-local connections, played an integral role in adding another layer to the culturally specific meaning attributed to malformed infants and animals in society, endowed them with a new significance, and made them into collectable and tradable things. In lieu of a conclusion, I will briefly introduce another group of anatomical things, popular anatomies, which were intended for lay people and arguably democratized anatomical knowledge.

Anatomy Education without Dissection

  • 8 HAT 696/33602, 29 Z 1250 (28 April 1835). All archival documents cited in this article are from the (...)

7In April 1835, the Grand Vizier Mehmed Emin Rauf Pasha submitted to the Ottoman court a brief report, describing a deceased newborn to ask if Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808-1839) would like to see this “wondrous oddity” (hârik-i âde garâibattan bir şey). Placed in a container, the baby’s body had just arrived in Istanbul from the Aegean island of Sire (Syros, part of today’s Greece). The peculiarity that made it “wondrous” and “odd” was that it had four legs and two heads on a single torso, which the pasha claimed could only be a manifestation of God’s power. Considering that these extraordinary features deserved public attention, he also proposed that a news item about it be publicized in the Takvim-i Vekâyi, the official gazette of the Ottoman Empire.8

  • 9 Though I have been unable to find the original copy of this order in the Ottoman archives, I have f (...)

8The Grand Vizier’s proposal was not without precedent. Before the Takvim-i Vekâyi commenced publication in November 1831, Sultan Mahmud II had already issued an order instructing all provincial officials from across the empire to report any strange and unusual things that happened in their areas to Istanbul.9 Following this order, the gazette began publishing notices dispatched from the provinces as well as news translated from foreign periodicals recounting strange events and phenomena. For the first time in February 1832, the Takvim-i Vekâyi featured two news items about a 168-year-old man from Lithuania and a volcanic island off the coast of Sicily in the same issue (1832a), and in August of that year came the first notice announcing the death of a deformed infant born without knee and elbow joints and with two horns in Molova (Molyvos/Mithymna, today in Greece) under the title “oddity” (garîbe) (1832b). It is no surprise, then, that the Sultan did not turn down his Grand Vizier’s suggestion of publishing a notice about the “oddity,” though no such notice appeared in the gazette for a reason unknown to us. As to the ultimate fate of the two-headed baby’s body, it must have ended up in the Tıbhâne-i Âmire. As the Grand Vizier mentioned in passing, the person who had first informed him about the baby was the commander-in-chief of the Ottoman armies (Serasker), under whose office the Tıbhâne fell. This detail reveals that the medical school was the address to which the body was delivered, though it is not clear how it was treated there.

  • 10 HAT 1201/47157, 29 Z 1243 (12 July 1828). The Tıbhâne-i Âmire had a separate class for training mil (...)
  • 11 I could not locate any information on Dr. Bryce’s visit to Istanbul in 1830, though more informatio (...)
  • 12 Şânizâde Mehmed Ataullah is the author of Hamse-i Şânizâde, a five-volume treatise in medical scien (...)
  • 13 For more details about Maurocordato, see Sgantzos et al. 2015: 172-78.

9At the time, the Tıbhâne-i Âmire and the Cerrahhâne-i Mamûre had been active in Istanbul for eight and three years, respectively. Anatomy classes (ilm-i teşrih) were part of their curricula, but dissection of human cadavers was not permitted (Rıza Tahsin 1912: 9). Regardless, the Ottoman state’s main purpose for establishing these schools had less to do with fostering medical and scientific research than with rapidly supplying the imperial army and navy with much-needed medical staff, particularly surgeons (Ergin 1977: 339). This was such a vexing issue that when the Austrian emperor donated a full box of surgical instruments to the Tıbhâne in 1828, Sultan Mahmud II’s first reaction to this diplomatic gift was to air his concerns regarding the lack of competent surgeons who could master these instruments with dexterity.10 Given this underwhelming state of affairs, many contemporary observers hailed the establishment of the Tıbhâne as a praiseworthy and promising event. However, as one such observer, Glaswegian military surgeon Charles Bryce (1804-74), mentioned, the school had certain fundamental deficiencies in providing its students with practical training, “namely, anatomical demonstrations, chemical experiments, and hospital attendance” (1831: 10).11 In his view, anatomy teaching in particular was very inadequate, despite the existence of a comprehensive anatomy textbook by Şânizâde (1771-1826), as it was limited to insufficient theoretical instruction and, at best, demonstrations on anatomical plates and skeletons because of the ban on cadaveric dissections (10-11).12 The observations of Demetrius Maurocordato (Dimitrios Mavrokordatos, 1811-39), a Phanariot surgeon who studied medicine in Berlin and worked at the Greek Hospital of Galata in the early 1830s, were also not so different from those of Bryce.13 In his article on the state of medicine in the Ottoman Empire, one of his concerns was to draw attention to the lack of experimental and clinical aspects in the school’s curriculum. According to Maurocordato, the only branch of anatomy well taught at the Tıbhâne was osteology, thanks to the availability of bones, whereas the teaching of other branches was poor, not least because cadaveric dissection was forbidden and anatomical preparations were unavailable (1832: 25-26).

  • 14 On Sat-Deygallière, see Yıldırım 2007: 239-41.

10Notably, the Irish Reverend Robert Walsh (1772-1852), a graduate of medicine and chaplain to the British Embassy in Istanbul from 1830 to 1835, made similar remarks in his book about the flaws of anatomy training at the Cerrahhâne in 1832. Walsh recalls that one day he attended the descriptive anatomy class of Dr. A. H. Sat-Deygallière (?-1833), the French founding director of the school, where he observed about two hundred students learning about the interior body solely through anatomical plates.14 However, his frustration was relieved when the French physician told him that:

[T]he Sultan [Mahmud II] had no objection to the dissection of human subjects; that it had been performed in private and would become a part of the public course when the prejudices of the people were sufficiently reconciled (Walsh 1838: 300).

11Sat-Deygallière was correct in his conviction that it was just a matter of time for cadaveric dissection to be added to the school’s curriculum. Indeed, in 1841, that is, a few years after the Tıbhâne and the Cerrahhâne had been merged, reorganized after the example of the Josephinum, and opened in its new building at Galatasaray under a new name – Mekteb-i Tıbbiye- Sultan Mahmud II’s successor, Sultan Abdülmecid (r. 1839-1861), decreed the permissibility of dissection on cadavers (Kâhya 1979: 750). Well before access to cadavers became officially possible, however, anatomy teaching had already undergone a process of transformation, a process that would lead to a deeper engagement with the human body. The above-mentioned episode involving the two-headed baby, a teratological specimen, was one such example of changing medical epistemology and practices, but it was not the only one. Another novelty, introduced to the Tıbhâne in 1837 and then taken over by the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, allowed students to explore the interior of the body and get a tactile experience without having to touch a corpse.

“Excellent” Teaching Tools to Substitute Cadavers: Dr. Auzoux’s Detachable Anatomical Models

  • 15 C.MF 14/681, 6 M 1253 (12 April 1837). Together with the expenses of packing, transportation, and d (...)
  • 16 HAT 746/35262, 20 R 1253 (24 July 1837). The money for the models was borrowed from the bankers And (...)

12In 1837, the Ottoman state purchased two life-size scale (180 cm tall) male anatomical models in Paris for the Tıbhâne-i Âmire, paying 3,000 francs for each.15 Produced at the factory of the French anatomist and model maker Dr. Louis Thomas Jérôme Auzoux (1797-1880), who coined the name “anatomie clastique” (from the Greek word klao, meaning “to break”) for his products, the distinctiveness of these anatomical models was that they were made of papier-mâché (modeled on cadavers), a quite durable and easily molded material suitable for mass production. Even more remarkable was they were made up of “129 pieces representing 1115 objects of detail” which could be taken apart (and put back together) to simulate a dissection on a real cadaver by following the instructions detailed in the synoptic table that accompanied each product (Chanal 2014: 19; Maerker 2015: 130-31; the quote is from Auzoux 1841: 3). The models purchased for the Tıbhâne were also supplemented by synoptic tables as Auzoux noted in his letter to Mehmed Nuri Efendi, the Ottoman ambassador in Paris who arranged and consummated the transaction.16 As such, these very detailed, easy-to-use, and detachable écorchés were uniquely suited to the needs of the Ottoman students of medicine.

  • 17 For instance, Mehmed Ali Pasha donated to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye a zoological collection, which provi (...)
  • 18 For more about anatomy education at the medical school in Abu Za‘abel, see Sonbol 1991: 63-65; Maer (...)

13For over ten years in business, Auzoux had already made a name for himself by the 1830s, at least in his native country and Britain. However, he would earn much of his renown in the following decades, when he was awarded the prestigious Prix Montyon by the French Academy of Sciences in 1844 and his models were displayed at the international expositions of London and Paris. This would enable him to expand his commercial network on almost a global scale (Maerker 2013: 542-44, 548-51; Chanal 2014: 57-74). Notably, the Ottoman Empire, or rather Istanbul, was one of the early markets for Auzoux to export his innovative merchandise, though Egypt, technically an Ottoman province but virtually semi-independent under the governorship of Mehmed Ali Pasha, had been afforded that privilege earlier, when Dr. Antoine Clot Bey, the French founding director of the Military School of Medicine in Abu Za‘bal (moved to Cairo in 1837), had acquired papier-mâché models in 1832 (Maerker 2013: 551-52 and 2015: 136-37). A connected history of Ottoman medicine that would shed light on the medico-scientific exchanges and collaborations between the medical schools in nineteenth-century Egypt and Istanbul has yet to be written. For the moment, what we have at hand regarding this relationship is limited to bits and pieces of information scattered across the Ottoman archival records and the annual academic reports of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye.17 Given this lacuna in the literature, one can only speculate on the extent to which the physicians in Istanbul nurtured contacts with their colleagues in Egypt and how attentive they were to the changes taking place in the practice of anatomy there.18 Yet, it is hardly speculative to say that the acquisition of detachable models constituted one of the early steps to upgrading medical training both in Egypt and the Ottoman capital, just as highlighted, though with a degree of exaggeration and with colonial overtones, in the catalogue published to advertise Auzoux’s models in the United States:

  • 19 The quote allegedly belongs to Baron Charles Dupin, the reporter of the Central Jury of the French (...)

Numbers of these models have been ordered for Russia, Turkey, the East and West Indies, Italy, Mexico, St. Domingo; and they have served to found Schools of Medicine in Cairo, Constantinople, Persia, Syria, &c. (Dupin 1841: 12).19

  • 20 HAT 746/35262, 20 R 1253 (24 July 1837); HAT 746/35262, 29 Z 1253 (26 March 1838). Auzoux’s models (...)
  • 21 “La difficulté de me procurer des sujets montrant à toutes les époques de la grossesse m’a mis dans (...)
  • 22 Another fact that strengthens this claim is the sale price of these models. The Ottoman government (...)

14A few months after the models of male anatomy arrived at the Tıbhâne, Auzoux received another order from Istanbul for an additional two, along with an over life-sized model of the human ear and eye. This time the manikins wanted were of the female body, and one of them would be equipped with a set of uterus models, demonstrating the development of fetus at various stages of gestation.20 However, the difficulty Auzoux had in procuring the fetuses necessary to finish off his work delayed the shipment of the obstetrics model along with its adjuncts; so it arrived at the Tıbhâne in March 1838.21 As Elizabeth Hallam explains, Auzoux’s models were hand-made and each one was the replica of a prototype. For mass production of the copies, the workers at his factory used reusable moulds for casting the parts (viscera, muscles, and etc.) that made up the whole écorché (2016: 295). In this regard, the excuse Auzoux gave for the late delivery of the obstetrics manikin suggests that he had yet to produce a prototype and moulds for this particular model. In other words, it might have been Auzoux’s very first product of this kind.22

  • 23 Also see İ.MVL 44/830, 11 N 1258 (16 October 1842).
  • 24 For two elaborate studies on nineteenth-century Ottoman pronatalist discourse and policies, see Bal (...)

15Predictably these models were intended to facilitate the training of students in female anatomy and the mechanics of childbirth, since the school had neither a women’s ward nor a maternity clinic, though obstetrics (fenn-i vilâde) was part of its curriculum. However, as the Austrian physician Karl Ambros Bernard (1808-44), the chief professor (muallim-i evvel) at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye and director of the clinics, noted retrospectively in 1841, the main reason for purchasing these “excellent” and “matchless” models was to establish a midwifery school (Wiener Zeitung 1841: 2547). Indeed, when the new midwifery class was opened in 1842, the prospective “licensed” midwives learned the techniques of the art through mechanically practicing with these anatomical manikins (Spitzer 1847: 186; Sarı 1996/97: 31-32; Balsoy 2016: 35).23 In a sense, Auzoux’s artificial bodies became the first means by which Ottoman doctors propagated a medicalized view of childbirth, one that reflected broader public health concerns about infant and maternal mortality.24

  • 25 See, for instance, the scornful comment that appeared in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 18 (...)
  • 26 To get an idea of how large a sum of money 4,000 francs (approximately 16,200 guruş) was, one can h (...)

16Besides being “excellent” teaching tools, as Bernard favorably commented in his report, Auzoux’s clastic models were also ostentatious objects to give visitors of high standing a rapid glimpse into the progress Ottoman medicine had made. For example, when the Archduke Friedrich Ferdinand Leopold of Austria visited Istanbul in 1840, he was taken on a tour of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye. In a notice published in the Neue Folge der Gesundheits-Zeitung, a Vienna-based periodical, recounting the Archduke’s visit, the correspondent of the newspaper accentuated how greatly the Archduke was impressed when he saw students studying dissection on Auzoux’s models, which were six in number and of both male and female bodies, accompanied by two fetal models (1840: 446-47). The correspondent was also eager to share his own impression about these papier-mâché artifacts. In his view, they were superior to those waxes in Vienna, the Florentine wax models housed at the Josephinum, because of their sturdiness and convenience for repeated use. He was also of the opinion that it would be more than beneficial for any university in Europe to acquire these anatomical models. Still, he had some reservations, overshadowing his sympathy for Auzoux’s wares. First of all, studying anatomy on a detachable model was of “incalculable benefit” for a novice anatomist if this could also be supplemented by further study on cadavers, but a professional anatomist had nothing to gain from it. In saying this, he was in part echoing the skeptical tone of some medical circles that were reluctant to acknowledge the epistemological adequacy of artificial bodies for the advancement of anatomical knowledge and practice.25 Perhaps more important than this, the models were so expensive that a single one had cost the Ottoman government 4,000 francs, together with transportation expenses (446).26

  • 27 In 1845, the chief physician, Abdülhak Molla, requested the Sultan to purchase Thibert’s Musée d’An (...)
  • 28 HAT 746/35262, 20 R 1253 (24 July 1837).

17As a matter of fact, a complete life-sized male anatomical model with a sale price of 3,000 francs was more affordable than a Florentine wax model with a price that was ten times higher (Chanal 2014: 20). It was also much less exorbitant than, for instance, the French physician Félix Thibert’s Musée d’Anatomie Pathologique (1839), which comprised almost 600 pieces of carton-pierre moulages representing various pathologies at a price of over 20,000 francs.27 However, the affordability of his products was also a matter of concern to Auzoux himself that as early as 1837, he had already designed a smaller and cheaper anatomical model (116 cm tall at 1,000 francs) (Palouzié 2017: 80), which he offered to sell to the Tıbhâne as well, via the ambassador Mehmed Nuri Efendi.28 Whether the Ottoman government agreed to buy one is not recoverable from available documentation, but the fact that the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye had in its possession six écorchés and two fetal models by 1840 suggests that Auzoux must have sold more to Istanbul, though not necessarily the small ones, sometime between the years 1837 and 1840.

  • 29 After the fire of 1848, the school was relocated several times. It was in Humbarahane Barracks betw (...)
  • 30 The new models were of human and animal anatomies, with a value of 30,119 francs. See MAD.d. 13638, (...)
  • 31 Y.PRK.ASK 143/69, 18 R 1898 (5 September 1898).

18During the fire of October 1848 that destroyed the Beyoğlu district, the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye was burned down to the ground (Ülman 2017: 269). So, too, were the anatomy collections and models purchased from Auzoux. The school was moved to another building, the Humbarahane Barracks, at the shore of the Golden Horn, where “[it] was almost forgotten,” as Alexander Zoéros, the head of the clinics at the school, complained bitterly in an article published in the Gazette Médicale d’Orient, the journal of the Société Impériale de Médecine de Constantinople (Cemiyet-i Tıbbiye-i Şahane) (Zoéros 1866: 147).29 Like Zoéros, the Ferrarese surgeon and obstetrician Augusto Ferro, then working at the Sixth District of the Istanbul Municipality, was also a vocal critic of the government’s deep neglect of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye. According to Ferro, the school was far from being well-equipped to provide students with proper medical training, unlike its counterparts in Europe, as it was deprived of “a botanical garden, a chemical laboratory, cabinets of human anatomy, comparative anatomy, and pathological anatomy, an anatomy amphitheatre, a museum of parturition,” not to mention the lack of clinics for women and insufficient number of cadavers for dissection (Ferro 1865: 33-34). It may be that the unsparing tone of Ferro’s remarks was in part because of his frustration, since the Grand Vizier Mustafa Reşid Pasha had turned a deaf ear to the proposal he made in 1857 to set up a museum of human anatomy under the name “Musée Anatomique Rechid Pacha” as well as to his request to be granted a position at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye (Aykut 2019b: 46-47). But, be that as it may, this does not change the fact that the school acquired new anatomical models from Paris only in 1873.30 Worse, a quarter century later, things were no better than they had been before. As German surgeon Robert Rieder (1861-1913), the founding director of the Gülhane Military Clinical Hospital who was tasked with inspecting the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye in 1898, noted in his report to the government, the teaching facilities were extremely dilapidated and insufficient. The only complete collection the school had was that of the natural history museum; anatomical models, however, were less than a dozen in number and all unusable.31

  • 32 İ.DH 1167/91223, 3 Ca 1307 (26 December 1889). As the US navy surgeon Jerome Henry Kidder wrote in (...)

19If Rieder’s report is not a mere exaggeration of the facts, the poor condition of the anatomical models by the turn of the century must have been due to their overuse because of the shortage of cadavers for dissection, a problem that remained unsolved throughout the years, as I shall demonstrate later. In this regard, it is plausible to presume that Auzoux’s models were perceived to be useful as substitutes for cadavers for those teaching and studying human anatomy, so much so that they were purchased for other medical educational institutions in Istanbul as well. In his dissertation based on research at the archives of Jean Montaudon (Auzoux’s successor), Nicolas Chanal established that the Ottoman government commissioned a small écorché to Auzoux for the Haydarpaşa Military Hospital (2014: 69), an internship hospital (tatbikat mektebi) from 1870 to 1898, which was compulsory for the graduate students of military medicine to attend. The Civil School of Medicine (Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Mülkiye, founded in 1867), too, had in its possession papier-mâché models. By 1889, they were so worn out and unusable that the government ordered a new one from Paris.32 As Adnan Adıvar (1882-1955), a 1905 graduate of and a later professor at the Civil School of Medicine, recalled in his memoirs, detachable and “very beautiful” models of human anatomy were still in use during his studentship due to the shortage of cadavers (Şehsüvaroğlu 1952: 377).

  • 33 According to the information provided at the website of the Library of Congress, the photographs in (...)

Fig. 1. The Museum of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Şahane in Haydarpaşa (Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Şahane Müzehanesi. Haydarpaşa’da inşa olunan Askerî Tıbbiye), between 1880-1893.33 Auzoux’s life-sized male anatomical model is on the left side of the image. Photographer: Ali Sami.

  • 34 For two more photographs, probably taken in the 1920s, where one can see Auzoux’s life-sized male a (...)

20(Courtesy of Istanbul University Rare Books Library, the digitized collection of Abdülhamid II, NEKYA90558/17, accessible at http://nek.istanbul.edu.tr:4444/​ekos/​FOTOGRAF/​90558---0017.jpg).34

  • 35 ŞD 522/25, 7 Za 1313 (20 April 1896).
  • 36 HR.TO 570/28, 27 October 1849. Besides Charrière, the Ottoman Porte had commercial relationships wi (...)
  • 37 HR.TO 70/109, 7 October 1851.

21As is well known, Auzoux’s product range was not limited to models of human anatomy alone, but included botanical models as well as animal models for comparative anatomy (Maerker 2015: 133). Among the animal models, the horse écorché, with 127 detachable components, in particular, turned out to be a success. From the 1840s onwards, many countries bought this model for their war departments, cavalry colleges, and veterinary schools (Degueurce 2017: 42-53), and the Ottoman Empire was no exception. For instance, an undated photograph taken within the Ottoman Military Academy’s Museum for Scientific Instruments (Mekteb-i Harbiye-i Şahane Âlât-ı Fenniye Salonu) reveals that the Academy had an anatomical model of the horse (Figure 2). The Military and Civil Schools of Veterinary Medicine (founded in 1842 and 1889, respectively) were also among the Ottoman institutions that showed interest in Auzoux’s products. In 1896, the Civil School purchased various anatomical models from Auzoux, including horse jaws, legs, and uterus, as well as models of the human heart, brain, eye, and ear.35 Archival documentation regarding the Military School, however, does not provide details as to the purchased items; yet it shows that the Ottoman state was a customer not only of Auzoux but also of Frédéric Charrière (1803-76), an internationally renowned entrepreneur in medical engineering who “had industrialized the production of surgical instruments” (Maerker 2013: 543).36 Notably, the person put in charge by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to acquire the needs of the veterinary school was again the then Ottoman ambassador to Paris, Alexander Kallimaki. To locate the best manufacturers of medical and surgical merchandise in the French capital, Kallimaki consulted two veterinaries and a professor from the École vétérinaire d’Alfort, got the names of Auzoux and Charrière, and consummated the purchase of the items. Two years later, he would be tasked with purchasing veterinary clastic models from Auzoux once again.37 These and other episodes show that the ambassadors, like Kallimaki and the aforementioned Mehmed Nuri Efendi, were more than merely state functionaries. Connecting Ottoman medical institutions with manufacturers abroad and integrating the empire into the global medical marketplace as a customer of the most up-to-date medical and surgical technologies, they were also indispensable non-physician agents of the reforms in medicine.

Fig. 2. The Ottoman Military Academy’s Museum for Scientific Instruments (Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Harbiye Âlât-ı Fenniye Salonu), between 1880-1893. Auzoux’s horse model is on the right background. Photographer: Abdullah Frères.

(Courtesy of Istanbul University Rare Books Library, the digitized collection of Abdülhamid II, NEKYA91011/31, accessible at http://nek.istanbul.edu.tr:4444/​ekos/​FOTOGRAF/​91011---0031.jpg).

  • 38 HR.TO 408/33, 30 October 1847.
  • 39 Semih Çelik, for example, reports that Annibale Foresti, a Tuscan physician and collector, sold par (...)
  • 40 Calenzuoli was the son of Francesco Calenzuoli, a wax artist and the pupil of Clemente Susini, the (...)
  • 41 A.MKT.MHM 266/38, 29 Z 1279 (17 June 1863).

22Evidently, from the 1830s and 1840s onward, Istanbul was on the way to becoming an attractive market for commercially oriented model makers, wax artists, and merchant-collectors. One such merchant-collector seeking to make money out of his wares was a certain Nicola Abamore. In 1847, he brought from Egypt to the Ottoman capital the stuffed carcasses of two animals: an eleven-foot long crocodile and a goat with two heads and extra limbs, which he wanted to show to the Sultan before putting them on sale.38 It is not clear who eventually bought these natural curiosities, but they could well have been appealing to a broad range of buyers from high-level bureaucrats and physicians to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye.39 Hence, the Florentine wax model maker Carlo Calenzuoli (?-1865) had good reason to recognize Istanbul as a market to be cultivated.40 An artist of the ceroplastic workshop of La Specola, Calenzuoli had some reputation outside Italy, with his waxworks reaching Germany, England, France, and the United States (Annali Universali di Statistica 1858: 89). He had executed three anatomical pieces for the natural history collections of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and also opened a “cabinet artistique et anatomique, destiné à populariser la science” on the Rue de Rivoli in 1858 (Courrier Franco-Italien 1857: 2 and 1858: 4). In 1863, evidently with the same goal in mind, he asked for permission from the Ottoman government to display and sell his wax models in Istanbul, though there is no record of whether his request was granted.41

  • 42 HR.MKT 783/13, 22 S 1290 (21 April 1873); HR.MKT 785/17, 9 Ra 1290 (7 May 1873); HR.MKT 786/19, 19 (...)

23In the final decades of the century, however, Istanbul became host to two popular anatomy exhibitions. In 1873, a certain Russian entrepreneur named Petro Mihailof obtained permission from the Ottoman government to put on display the models of human anatomy he brought from Odessa to Istanbul. Notwithstanding this, his plans were foiled by the inspectors entrusted with examining the models, who found some of them offending, particularly unsuitable for women to view, resulting in him being unable to display them all.42 An advertisement in a newspaper from 1892 also shows that the Théâtre des Petits-Champs in Tepebaşı was home to an exhibition called the Grand Musée Winter, which featured panoramas of cities and wax models of notable people in history and of diverse races, as well as anatomical figures in plaster in a separate room for visitors willing to pay double the entrance fee (Tercümân-ı Hakikat 1892: 8). Unfortunately, neither Mihailof’s enterprise nor the Grand Musée Winter left any further trace for historians to draw on such questions as what exactly the content of the displays were, what sort of anatomical knowledge they produced and communicated concerning the human body, and how this knowledge was perceived and appropriated by visitors who viewed these exhibitions. Given the limited scholarship on the popular exhibition culture in Ottoman Istanbul, however, it is significant in and of itself that the city welcomed at least two commercial anatomical exhibitions open to the public, right at a time when permanent and travelling museums of popular anatomy cropped up in various western cities, rendering knowledge of anatomy more accessible to lay audiences (Sappol 2002: 274-312; Bates 2008: 1-22; Podgorny 2013: 127-46; George 2018: 535-62).

  • 43 Chanal established that Auzoux’s models found market in eighteen countries across three continents (...)

24To the best of our knowledge, Auzoux’s anatomical models were not put on public display in Istanbul, just like any other anatomical object in the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye museum. Rather they were intended to appeal to medical and veterinary institutions, whose growing demands for educational material played a significant role in turning the Ottoman capital into a lucrative medical market. One of the most innovative medical technologies of the nineteenth century, Auzoux’s detachable models found their way into these institutions at a time when they were marketed widely to medical colleges, veterinary schools, anatomy museums, and military academies worldwide from Japan, Brazil, Chile, and Spain to India, Italy, and the United States.43 In this regard, these anatomical models, as conduits of knowledge production and dissemination, not only served as substitute objects in the absence or shortage of cadavers, but also created a shared experience in studying anatomy and dissection among students of medicine across the continents, of which the Ottoman students were a part.

25However profound the benefits of Auzoux’s detachable models had been for students of medicine, the corpse was a foremost key to knowledge about the structure of the organs, which could only be extracted by the cutting open of bodies. This approach that assumed unprecedented prominence in Europe with the anatomo-clinical turn found an echo in Ottoman medicine as well. For example, when Hristo Tanev Stambolski (1843-1932), a Bulgarian assistant professor of anatomy at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye and professor of the same subject at the Civil School of Medicine, translated Joseph-Nicolas Masse’s Petit atlas complet d’anatomie descriptive du corps humain (1843) into Ottoman Turkish as Miftah-ı Teşrih (The Key to Anatomy, 1873), he stressed in his preface to the book how useful this anatomical atlas would be for students preparing for their exams. Yet, he also wanted to make his position clear right away, adding in an almost apologetic tone:

  • 44 The translation is taken from Strauss’s article on Stambolski (2019: 288), which provides the full (...)

However, I do not have the illusion of keeping students from the dissecting room by publishing this book which is called ‘The Key to Anatomy.’ I am one of those who insist in recommending that in any case a sound and solid knowledge can be acquired only by a cadaver in the dissecting room (Stambolski 1873: 4)44

  • 45 A document dated 1805, in which the Ottoman state granted permission for the establishment of a Gre (...)
  • 46 For some earlier studies on the introduction of cadaveric dissection into medical training at the M (...)

26Stambolski was not the first Ottoman physician to recognize the undeniable necessity of hands-on experience with cadavers for adequate medical training. Such awareness dates back to at least the early nineteenth century, but it took shape most dramatically in 1841, when the cadaveric dissections were officially sanctioned at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye.45 In the following pages, I will deal with this relatively well-studied episode in late Ottoman medicine by trying to situate it within the context of the anatomo-clinical turn, as it was this turn that elevated the importance of the cadaver as an object of scientific inquiry and, thus, made it into a much sought-after commodity.46

Anatomo-Clinical Turn: Cadavers for the Dissecting Room

  • 47 These physicians were namely Dr. Bernard, Sigmund Spitzer, Joseph Wartbichler, Lorenz Rigler, and G (...)

27As is well documented in studies on late Ottoman medicine, the Austrian physicians tasked with missions going beyond modernizing Ottoman medical education left their mark on the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye for at least two decades from 1838 onwards.47 In many respects, the school was central to the Habsburg Empire’s ambitions to advance its influence over the sanitary affairs of the Ottoman Empire, not least in the face of rivalry from France pursuing similar goals (Chahrour 2007: 687-94, 701-702). Almost any novelty introduced at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye during this time period received coverage in German and Austrian periodicals to highlight not only the Ottoman state’s commitment to organize a modern medical system, but also Austrian physicians’ pivotal role in this achievement. Among these physicians, Karl Ambros Bernard, the school’s chief professor, and Sigmund Spitzer (1813-94), professor of anatomy who succeeded Bernard’s position in 1845 and also taught internal diseases, merit particular mention for ushering in the anatomo-clinical method at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye.

28The anatomo-clinical method emerged in continental Europe in the mid-eighteenth century, when Giovanni Battista Morgagni of Padua (1682-1771) challenged the long dominance of the Hippocratic doctrine of humoral pathology in medicine with his five-volume book titled De sedibus et causis morborum […] (1761). In this groundbreaking work based on autopsy findings, he integrated pathological anatomy with clinical diagnosis, demonstrating that the external symptoms of a disease collected at the bedside of the patient correlate with the lesions on organs triggered by that very same disease which could be observed through post-mortem examination (Di Marco 2015: 16-17). Though this method did not have a profound effect on medical practice right away, it gained ascendancy in post-revolutionary Paris hospitals thanks to such eminent figures as Jean-Nicolas Corvisart (1755-1821), who revived the diagnostic technique of percussion developed previously by the Austrian physician Leopold Auenbrugger (1722-1809), the anatomist and pathologist Xavier Bichat (1771-1802), whose studies on tissue pathology made him the founder of modern histology, and René Laënnec (1781-1826), the inventor of the stethoscope (Foucault 2003 [1963]: 127-46; Risse 1999: 309-17; Di Marco 2015: 15-29). In the 1830s, however, the pioneering work of many doctors at the Allgemeines Krankenhaus propelled Vienna ahead of Paris. Among these doctors, pathologist Karl von Rokitansky (1804-78), known for performing thousands of autopsies during his career, and clinician Joseph Škoda (1805-81), who refined percussion and auscultation techniques and collaborated closely with Rokitansky, provided a new impetus for the consolidation of anatomo-clinical method (Buklijas 2008: 588-89; Percebois 2013: 351-55).

  • 48 For two accounts of body-snatching from the Ottoman domains, see Penrose 1941: 42 and Nakashian 194 (...)

29Apart from these figures, however, what contributed most to the revival and success of the anatomo-clinical method in Paris and Vienna was the abundance of bodies available for autopsy and dissection (Weiner and Sauter 2003: 26-27; Buklijas 2008: 571-72). It goes without saying that clinical autopsy and anatomical dissection were two sides of the same coin with regard to the anatomo-clinical method, because “one had to be ‘practiced in the dissection of healthy bodies’ if one wished to detect a disease in a corpse,” as Michel Foucault put it (2003: 134). From the late eighteenth century onwards, the unprecedented emphasis placed on the necessity of dissection and autopsy for disease diagnosis and classification had put the cadaver at the heart of medical research and education. As a result, the demand on the part of medical schools and private anatomy classes for cadavers grew to such an extent that it created a black market for dead bodies, giving rise to the emergence of notorious means of procurement such as body-snatching (grave robbing) and even murder, particularly in Edinburgh and London prior to the Anatomy Act of 1832 and to some degree in Paris (Hurren 2012; Richardson 2000; Weiner, Sauter 2003: 27-28).48 However, in both Paris and Vienna, state-sponsored measures ensured, to a great extent, a steady and abundant flow of cadavers to the dissecting tables from the hospitals, which at the same time allowed students easy access to numerous patients with various ailments to advance their clinical experience. Thanks to these opportunities for hands-on and bedside learning, Paris and Vienna became the leading educational destinations for students of medicine from across the continent and beyond (Bonner 1995: 136; Buklijas 2008: 572, 579). Given this overwhelming influence of the anatomo-clinical method sweeping through medicine at the time, it is no surprise that the utmost priority of Bernard and Spitzer during the early years of their tenure at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye became to obtain permission from the Sultan to perform dissection on cadavers.

  • 49 As early as 1831, the previously mentioned Glaswegian physician, Charles Bryce, had also highlighte (...)

30Sultan Abdülmecid, as previously stated, decreed the permissibility of cadaveric dissection in 1841. There is no precise record of how he was persuaded, but according to the Istanbul correspondent of Der Adler, an Austrian newspaper, the Sultan’s consent had been secured thanks to Bernard’s ceaseless efforts and the intermediary role of Mustafa Reşid Pasha, then the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Notably, the correspondent was also taken aback by the fact that Abdülhak Molla (1786-1854), the chief physician (hekimbaşı) of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye and an alim, did not raise opposition to dissection notwithstanding the Quranic prohibition of opening up corpses, which he claimed was proof that the members of the higher ulema were not as fanatical as they were usually portrayed (Der Adler 1842: 261-62).49

  • 50 İ.DH 38/1771, 18 S 1257 (11 April 1841).
  • 51 Ibid.

31Presumably sharing the same conviction that dissection was forbidden by the Quran, the school’s professors and Western observers alike lauded this new development as an important and timely step to uplift medical education. As Marcel Chahrour aptly put it, “[d]issection was turned into a symbol of civilization itself.” (2007: 693). However, soon, the challenges faced in acquiring cadavers, in part due to the public repugnance to dissection, cast a shadow over this rosy picture. Initially, the main supplier of cadavers to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye was foreign hospitals in Istanbul (Wiener Zeitung 1841: 2547). The government also allowed the Imperial Naval Arsenal (Tersane-i Âmire) to provide the school with the bodies of convicts who perished in prison there, on the condition that the delivery would be discreet.50 Probably following the example of Britain’s Anatomy Act of 1832 that legalized the transfer of unclaimed bodies to medical schools, the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye further requisitioned access to the unclaimed corpses of paupers brought to the Çürüklük Cemetery (potter’s field), but the Sultan and his Council of Ministers declined this request, considering the prospect of public outrage.51 In his much cited book Turkey and Its Destiny, the Scottish traveler Charles MacFarlane (1799-1858) also dwells on the government’s concerns over and people’s prejudices against dissection while relating his observations on the dissecting room of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye that he visited in 1848. According to MacFarlane, unlike the liberal attitude he witnessed among the students and professors towards cadaveric dissections, neither the Muslims nor the Christians and Jews in Istanbul were comfortable with the idea that the dead might have ended up on the dissecting table. Moreover, “[t]he authorities were afraid that the soldiers might revolt if the bodies of their comrades were sent to the hospital [for dissection and autopsy], instead of being buried in the earth […]” (1850: 269). It was due to these prevailing anxieties that the supply of anatomical subjects remained far from adequate most of the time throughout the years. As early as 1843, Bernard had worries about the shortage of cadavers, hampering the hands-on anatomy training (Terzioğlu 1992: 21; Ülman 2017: 216). In 1845, Spitzer raised the same issue in the school’s annual academic report, where he would also praise the chief physician, Ismail Efendi (1807-80), for his initiatives in seeking out a solution to this problem (Spitzer 1845: 2322).

  • 52 The Russian physician Artemis Rafalowitsch (1816-56) claims to have witnessed the very first dissec (...)
  • 53 Also see İ.DH 144/7419, 6 Ca 1263 (22 April 1847). In 1842, 1 franc was equal to 4 guruş (Turkish p (...)

32The solution came in 1846, when the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye was granted permission to confiscate the bodies of African slaves of both sexes who perished at the Slave Market, and it was Spitzer who saw this as a huge benefit for students, whose knowledge of female anatomy until then had been limited to what could be gained from anatomical models (Ülman 2017: 239).52 He also did not pass without mentioning how this opportunity would promote anthropological research, simply because the Slave Market was a space where one could encounter “people of every race, particularly the African race” (239). Despite these expected benefits, the Slave Market could not serve as a long-term source of cadavers, as it was abolished in December 1846. However, its mission was quickly handed over to slave dealers (esirciler), who were paid thirty guruş for each African slave deceased in private homes (Spitzer 1847: 186-87).53 MacFarlane, then, was right when he said that “[the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye] depended almost exclusively upon the mortality among the Nubian slaves” to acquire cadavers, since what he saw there on the dissecting tables during his visit to the school were nothing but the corpses of the “negro[es]” and “negress[es]” (1850: 268-69).

  • 54 The authorization to dissect pauper bodies came only in the 1890s, however. See BEO 534/39992, 16 C (...)
  • 55 Y.PRK.ASK 143/69, 18 R 1898 (5 September 1898).

33As the demand for anatomical subjects grew and the supply remained short in the subsequent years, the institutions charged with delivering cadavers to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye increased in number, hence the bodies destined to be dissected. The convicts who passed away at the Police Jail (Zabtiye Hapishanesi) and the Central Prison (Hapishane-i Umumi), as well as the unclaimed bodies of inmates who died at the Mental Asylum (Toptaşı Bimarhanesi) and the Hospital for the Muslim Destitute (Gureba-i Müslimin Hastanesi) were added to the pool of cadavers (Çelik 2008: 61-62; Aykut 2014: 25-26).54 According to the memoirs of Dr. Stambolski, the school was able to acquire three to four cadavers every week by the late 1860s, thanks to the efforts of the director Salih Efendi (1816-95) who paid two liras (200 guruş) for each corpse received and also to the supply service provided by the executioner of the Central Prison (Stambolski 1927-31, cited in Strauss 2019: 272). Needless to say, this figure was dramatically lower than the 2000 cadavers delivered annually to the medical faculty of the Vienna University at around 1850 (Buklijas 2008: 572). Yet it appears to be sufficient if compared to the number of corpses handed over to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye in the final decades of the nineteenth century. For instance, when Dr. Rieder inspected the school in 1898, he discovered that the dissecting room had received only ten cadavers that year.55 The accounts of physicians who studied and taught at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, on the other hand, paint a far worse picture. As Cemil Topuzlu (1866-1953), Rıza Nur (1879-1942), and Tevfik Sağlam (1882-1963) noted in their memoirs, they had barely ever got the chance to study anatomy hands-on since the cadavers available for dissection per year rarely exceeded one or two in number during their studentship (Topuzlu 1994 [1951]: 26; Nur 1967: 107; Sağlam 1959: 65).

  • 56 Forensic autopsies on Muslim bodies became more common from the late nineteenth century onwards. Pe (...)
  • 57 Sağlam also recounts how, as a group of students, they carried off the corpse of a recently decease (...)

34The difficulties encountered in establishing the anatomo-clinical approach at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye were not confined to the shortage of cadavers, however. Another constraint was the inability to carry out clinical autopsies on a routine basis. While autopsy was an integral part of the curriculum, and presumably became even more so from 1847 onwards with the establishment of a chair of forensic medicine (Spitzer 1847: 180-81), its practice remained restricted to abandoned corpses of Christian patients for a long time (von Mühlig 1859: 105). Conducting an autopsy on a Muslim’s dead body, even for forensic purposes, must have been so uncommon that in 1857, when the corpse of a female convert to Islam was exhumed and subjected to an autopsy at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding her death, the Gazette Médicale d’Orient hailed this event as a significant medical advancement and commended the authorities for allowing the practice (1857: 95-96).56 According to Graziadio Vallon (1819-59), an Austrian physician who directed the school’s internal clinic from 1857 to 1859, the main reason hindering autopsies was people’s reluctance to allow the bodies of their loved ones to be dissected, which, he believed, had less to do with religious dogma than with the natural aversion to the desecration of the dead. All that was needed to dispel this reluctance, therefore, was an official decree that would mandate autopsies for all patients who died in the school’s clinic (Vallon 1859: 159). Such a decree went into effect in 1859, granting the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye professors authorization to conduct autopsies on all deceased patients, including Muslims, unless their relatives objected (von Mühlig 1859: 105-107). Whether this official intervention gave way to an increase in the number of autopsies performed is impossible to know in the absence of statistical records or historical documentation. Still, it does not appear to have had a profound and lasting impact on medical practice at the school, as suggested by the doctors’ memoirs pertaining to the later years of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye around the turn of the century. Tevfik Sağlam, for instance, states that the instruction in pathological anatomy was mostly theoretical rather than practical due to the lack of bodies to dissect. Only after graduation, while interning at the Gülhane Military Clinical Hospital, did they have the opportunity to study pathological anatomy extensively and attend plenty of autopsies (1959: 78-79).57

  • 58 It is unknown when the museum was exactly established. The earliest mention of the anatomy museum ( (...)
  • 59 Hyrtl has not received enough credit from scholars for his donations to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye. Gasse (...)

35Briefly, government efforts fell short of regularizing the supply of anatomical subjects to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye. Even allowing a small-scale trade in cadavers did not help change this picture, though it no doubt rendered certain bodies, like those of slaves, convicts, and destitute, more vulnerable to dissection. Then one can safely contend that the seeds of the anatomo-clinical method sown in 1841 following the sultanic permission to use cadavers in anatomy classes could not fully take root at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye. Still, it bore fruit in another way. A deceased body was not only a basic tool to teach students dissection; it was also a raw material from which to make anatomical and pathological preparations, that is, organs and soft tissues preserved either in liquid fixatives or desiccated form, whose manufacturing process demanded knowledge and expertise in such techniques as injection, fixation, maceration, and mounting (Chaplin 2008: 139-40). The inception of cadaveric dissections at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye therefore enabled the school’s anatomist, Spitzer, and his assistant, Osman Efendi, to produce anatomical and pathological preparations out of corpses, such as injected preparations of blood vessels and ligaments. This set the stage for the foundation of an anatomy museum, an all-important requisite for an adequate anatomy and clinical teaching (Ülman 2017: 216, 222-24).58 Unfortunately, we know very little about the extent of Spitzer’s and Osman Efendi’s contributions to the museum’s collections, but we do know more about the contributions of another Austrian anatomist, Josef Hyrtl (1810-94), who donated anatomical preparations to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye twice, in 1842 and 1870.59 Just like Auzoux, Hyrtl was a diligent entrepreneur, seeking strategies to cultivate customers and foster demand for his anatomical preparations in the medical and museum market. Gift giving was one such strategy through which he promoted his wares to the Ottoman Sultan. In the following pages concerning Hyrtl’s legacy at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, I aim to illustrate the entangled nature of scientific knowledge production, commercial pursuits, and personal networks that spurred the flow of anatomical objects between Prague, Vienna, and Istanbul.

Furnishing the Museum with “Jewelry”: Dr. Hyrtl’s Gifts and Some Skulls from the Istanbul Cemeteries

36At the time Hyrtl sent his gifts to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye in September 1842, he had been a professor of anatomy at Charles University since 1837 and was enjoying considerable fame for his dexterous microscopic injection preparations. Before he got this position in Prague, he had worked as an anatomical demonstrator (prosector) at his alma mater, the University of Vienna (George 2018: 543), where Spitzer had been a student at that time. Notably, the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye hired Spitzer as an anatomy professor in 1839 upon the recommendation of Hyrtl (Ahmed Refik 1915: 600; Gasser 1994: 93). This suggests that one of the driving forces that led Hyrtl to donate anatomical preparations to the school’s museum, overseen by Spitzer, was ties of friendship, which would also be the basis for future collaboration between the two anatomists.

  • 60 Corrosion casting was a technique that “involved injecting coloured wax into hollow organs such as (...)
  • 61 Ceride-i Havadis 1842: 2; Oesterreichischer Beobachter 1842: 1074; Linzer Zeitung 1842: 631; Preẞbu (...)
  • 62 Also see İ.HR 18/898, 6 L 1258 (10 November 1842), A.MKT 5/43, 9 L 1258 (12 November 1842). For Hyr (...)
  • 63 For a nuanced analysis of Marcel Mauss’s notion of gift exchange and its critique, see Pyyhtinen 20 (...)
  • 64 References to the Sultan’s gift in accounts of Hyrtl’s biography attest to that. See also Österreic (...)

37The gifts, showcasing Hyrtl’s prowess in the technique of corrosion casting, came in two boxes to Istanbul.60 This noteworthy event did not pass without recognition from the press. The newspapers noted the benefits students would gain from studying anatomy with these preparations, while also giving an overview of the donated items, which included wax-injected preparations of the vessels in the head, trunk, and extremities, sensory organs, and parts of the digestive system, among other things.61 In accordance with courtly conventions and also as a gesture of appreciation, Sultan Abdülmecid reciprocated by giving Hyrtl a counter-gift, a golden tobacco tin embellished with diamonds and his imperial cipher (Der Ungar 1843: 130),62 which may also be regarded as a manifestation of the Sultan’s wish, in a Maussian sense, to cement the relationship initiated by the anatomist.63 No doubt, Hyrtl and the Ottoman Sultan exchanged not only objects of some economic value but also such mutual intangible benefits as dignity, prestige, and recognition. Put under the spotlight of the Austrian newspapers, this gift-exchange ensured Hyrtl public notice and enhanced his symbolic capital, so much so that it would be one of the highlights of his long career.64 As to the Sultan, he gained an opportunity to bolster his image as an enlightened monarch when the newspapers praised his unreserved support for the promotion of anatomy education at this most prestigious Ottoman institution –the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye.

  • 65 HR.TO 150/65, 25 April 1848; İ.HR 45/2140, 12 C 1264 (16 May 1848).

38The connection between Hyrtl and the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye did not end there. In February 1848, when the Ottoman government sent four students of medicine to the University of Vienna in the company of Spitzer to take doctoral examinations and earn their diplomas, one of the examining professors was Hyrtl, holding the chair of descriptive anatomy for three years (Wienerbote 1848: 12-13; Ülman 2017: 264-66). Not coincidentally, Spitzer, right at this time, requested the Sultan to acquire natural history specimens and anatomical preparations for the school’s museums from Vienna.65 The Sultan granted his request, but it is unclear whether they ever arrived in Istanbul. Even if they did, they must have been entirely destroyed in the fire of October 1848, which consumed everything donated by Hyrtl but a skull, as Spitzer wrote to the anatomist in March 1849 (quoted in Gasser 1994: 110). Notably, Spitzer penned this letter not only to inform him of the unfortunate fate of the anatomical collections at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, but also to express his willingness to help his friend financially. During the revolution of 1848 in Vienna, Hyrtl’s private anatomical collection in his apartment, as well as the collections at the university museum, had been damaged (Buklijas 2015: 149). In other words, fire and revolution in two different cities had wiped out “the beautiful fruits of [Hyrtl’s] endeavors in the Orient and Occident” in Spitzer’s words (quoted in Gasser 1994: 110). As he indicated in his letter, the plan he had in mind, therefore, was to persuade the Ottoman government in order to purchase an anatomical collection from Hyrtl for the school’s museum, which would eventually be of benefit for both sides, though there is no record left of such transaction.

  • 66 It is notable that Abdullah Bey, too, lost his private collection to a fire in 1867, including his (...)
  • 67 The date of donation is October 1870. The monetary value of the donation is stated in İ.HR 246/1462 (...)
  • 68 HR.TO 107/52, 7 October 1870; İ.HR 246/14621, 24 Ş 1287 (19 November 1870).
  • 69 HR.MKT 702/30, 10 N 1287 (4 December 1870).

39According to an inventory compiled many years later in 1871 by Abdullah Bey (Karl Eduard Hammerschmidt, 1801-74), an eminent entomologist, the professor of mineralogy and zoology at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, and the director of the school’s natural history museum, what remained from the fire of 1848 was only around 3000 objects of natural history, half of which were mollusks (1872: 33-34).66 However, as Abdullah Bey pointed out proudly, the museum’s collections were expanding owing to his own efforts as well as to the recent contributions of distinguished scientists and amateur naturalists. Not surprisingly, one of those scientists, indeed the foremost one, was Hyrtl, who had once again donated to the museum a set of microscopic injection specimens and anatomical preparations comprising fifty-four pieces with an estimated value of 40,000 francs (34).67 He had also submitted a letter to the Ottoman embassy in Vienna, explaining the reason for his generous donation. Hyrtl stated in his letter that he had just heard the sad news from Stephan Aslanian Pasha (1822-1901), a Mekteb-i Tıbbiye professor who was then in Vienna on an official mission, that the collection he had donated earlier had been lost to a fire. His humble wish now was to make another contribution to the museum in order to strengthen the scientific relationship between the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye and the University of Vienna, while rendering his own name memorable. He also did not fail to remind his addressee, the Sultan, his prior services to the Ottoman students of medicine and expressed his expectation to be rewarded for his gifts.68 The reward was granted in two months when Hyrtl was decorated with the second class order of the Medjidie.69

  • 70 Arif Musa Bey and Stephan Aslanian Pasha were among the four students dispatched to Vienna in 1848 (...)

40Notwithstanding what Hyrtl claimed in his letter, the fate of his anatomical preparations at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye was no doubt known to him well before his conversation with Stephan Pasha. As previously stated, Spitzer had already notified him of the fire’s dire ramifications for the anatomy museum just a few months after it occurred. At any rate, besides Spitzer, Hyrtl had a number of other contacts in Istanbul -Lorenz Rigler, the head of the internal clinics and the professor of internal medicine at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye from 1849 until 1856, Arif Musa Bey, the professor of surgical anatomy and the director of the school from 1861 to 1865, and Alexander Sotto, the director of the Austrian Hospital (Gasser 1994).70 So, why Hyrtl pretended to have just learned about the fire is a mystery, but there is good reason to assume that he used it as a pretext to justify his long indifference to such an important affair, at a time when he wanted to re-establish contact with the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye and the Sultan.

  • 71 For Hyrtl’s marketing strategies and target audiences, see George 2018: 541-51 and McLeary 2001: 11 (...)
  • 72 See Gasser 1994: 120 for an itemized list of anatomical preparations that Salih Efendi attached to (...)

41By 1870, Hyrtl’s corrosion preparations had achieved great renown, traveled to London and Paris to be displayed at the international expositions of 1862 and 1867 and been sold to museums worldwide at high prices (Buklijas 2015: 155-57). Nevertheless, the anatomist was approaching the end of his career. As early as 1866, in a letter he sent to Dr. Thomas Hewson Bache, the curator of the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, Hyrtl had mentioned his desire to sell his private collection to the Museum since what he had in mind was to resign his chair at the University of Vienna and “to retire to the country, where an anatomical collection is a kind of burden” in his own words (quoted in Wade 1944: 115). For a reason unknown, however, the Mütter Museum delayed purchasing his skull collection along with some other anatomical preparations until 1874 (117). In other words, when Hyrtl donated for the second time to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, he was looking for a convenient home and potential customers for his “anatomical treasures,” as he himself referred to them (116). His visually arresting preparations had already dazzled Stephan Pasha, to such an extent that he could not help but exclaim, “mais ce ne sont pas de préparations anatomiques, ce sont des bijoux” when he saw them (Hyrtl 1873: 20). However, it was ultimately the Sultan, who had to be persuaded of the artfulness and scientific value of Hyrtl’s “bijoux.” In this regard, gift giving was a marketing strategy that Hyrtl used to stir interest in his anatomical preparations, a strategy that highlights how economic calculations played a role in knowledge-making and transfer, as Kapil Raj said in another context (2007: 57), and how short the presumed distance between “gifts, and the spirit of reciprocity, sociability, and spontaneity in which they are typically exchanged” and “the profit-oriented, self-centered, and calculated spirit that fires the circulation of commodities” is/was, as Arjun Appadurai once put it (2013 [1986]: 11).71 Indeed, a couple of months after the gifts arrived at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, the director of the school, Salih Efendi, wrote to Vienna not only to express his gratitude, but also to request a price list for anatomical preparations required at the school, which Hyrtl had already offered to procure via Stephan Pasha (Terzioğlu 1993: 227; Gasser 1994: 118-21).72

42The Ottoman archives are silent on whether any part of Hyrtl’s collection was purchased for the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye following Salih Efendi’s letter. It may be that the senior anatomist failed in his endeavor as his preparations were not only expensive but also fragile, making them better suited for display than hands-on anatomy training (Buklijas 2015: 156). Whatever may be the pertinence of his wares for teaching, however, the first donation Hyrtl made in 1842 served Spitzer to expand the collections of the anatomy museum. It was again his donation in 1870 that helped Abdullah Bey revive the school’s anatomical collections from the ashes. Hyrtl, in turn, garnered prestige and acknowledgement in the gift economy, but there is more to it than that.

  • 73 The literature on the connections between colonialism, physical anthropology, museum collections, a (...)

43An anatomist renowned for his spectacular corrosion preparations, Hyrtl was no less famous as a skull collector. Until 1869, he had amassed 83 crania, which grew to 139 by the time he sold them to the Mütter Museum in 1874 (Hyrtl 1869: LXXXII; Wade 1944: 116). Like many of his contemporary collectors, as well as museums in Europe and other places, which filled their shelves with specimens and artifacts through colonial plunder as well as through donations and purchases from individual collectors, Hyrtl, too, was dependent on a network of far-flung associates laboring on his behalf to feed his private collection with skulls from across distances.73 As he put it in one of his books, he sourced his specimens: “[…] either in exchange for microscopic injection specimens, or as gifts from influential and distinguished patrons, as well as from my friends and former students.” (Hyrtl 1869: 83). In a letter to the curator of the Mütter Museum in 1873, he further revealed, unreservedly, the provenance of some skulls in his possession:

It is easier to get the skulls of Islanders of the Pacific, than those of Moslim [sic], Jews, and all the semisavage tribes of the Balkan and Karpathian valleys. Risking his life, the gravestealer must be largely bribed. My pupils, who are physicians to the Turkish Pachas, procured most of them for me (quoted in Wade 1944: 116).

  • 74 In a book where Hyrtl provides an inventory of the University of Vienna’s collections of human anat (...)

44While Hyrtl does not name any of his contacts in his letter, he mentions elsewhere that he received a skull belonging to an eunuch from Theodor Bilharz (1825-62), a Cairo-based German physician and skull collector who primarily supplied the private collection of the anatomist and anthropologist Alexander Ecker (1816-87) in Freiburg during his post at the Qasr al-Aini Hospital and the medical school in the 1850s (Hyrtl 1869: 84; Kästner et.al. 2011: 277).74 More importantly, as Rudolf J. Gasser demonstrated, Spitzer and Rigler, as well as Joseph Wartbichler, the professor of anatomy at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye from 1847 to 1852, were among Hyrtl’s fellow “pupils” and colleagues who provided him with the skulls they collected in Istanbul and Egypt (1994: 97, 110). In this regard, each skull he acquired from the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye professors was an added bonus of the gift relationship he established, a sort of counter-gift delivered in exchange for his contributions to the school’s anatomy museum or perhaps for some other benefits he promised.

Fig. 3. Dr. Josef Hyrtl, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Vienna, 1850. Lithograph by Eduard Kaiser.

(Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine HMD Collection [Portrait no. 7687 portrait map], accessible at http://resource.nlm.nih.gov/​101407648)

45Apart from the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye professors mentioned above, another contact in Hyrtl’s supply network may arguably have been Augustin Weisbach (1837-1914), an anthropologist and the chief physician of the Austria-Hungarian Hospital in Istanbul from 1868 onwards for eighteen years. Notwithstanding the lack of compelling evidence to prove or disprove this supposition, the trajectory of Weisbach’s long career in Istanbul still merits attention, not necessarily to mark him as one of Hyrtl’s associates, but to situate the Ottoman capital as a node within the dynamics of imperial and colonial knowledge production and circulation on “races,” which also facilitated the flow of human skulls from Istanbul to Vienna, as we shall see below.

  • 75 Şevket Aziz Kansu (1903-83), a pioneer of physical anthropology who defended the racial superiority (...)
  • 76 In an article on a skull from Syria, British anatomist Duckworth names the anatomists and anthropol (...)
  • 77 For a record from the Ottoman archives that sheds light on the bureaucratic process preceding the s (...)

46When Weisbach was appointed to Istanbul in 1868, he was already a well-regarded physician in Viennese scientific circles for his anthropometric studies of people living in the multiethnic empire of Austria, particularly soldiers. More notably, he had written the anthropological section of a 21-volume report pertaining to the Novara Expedition (1857-59), the first circumnavigation of the globe by the Austrian navy with the frigate Novara, which brought back to Vienna various specimens, including human skulls, collected during the voyage (Schasiepen 2021: 32-40). At the time, human skulls were of utmost value to physical anthropology, a thriving discipline preoccupied with measuring skulls and bones (of the living and the dead) in order to construct ideal racial types and taxonomies that eventually served to lend scientific credibility to the theories of (assumed) superiority of particular races (and sexes) over others (Turda and Quine 2018: 90-94; Roque 2018: 70). While the Austrian anthropologists were, for the most part, liberal in their worldview, giving more credit to the impact of environmental conditions than that of biological qualities in explaining the physical and cultural diversity of humankind, Weisbach was not one of them (Rhode 2019: 108-109). Rather, he subscribed to the idea of racial hierarchies, which he sought to establish through comparative cranial and pelvic measurements, to the point where, even after his death, he would be praised for his contribution to “race science” (Berner 2010: 236-37; Khull-Kholwald 1915: 14).75 Weisbach’s post in Istanbul afforded him a fertile opportunity not only to extend his studies in craniometry but also to expand his skull collection he had been making for some six years (Szilvássy and Kentner 1978: 27). In 1873, the findings of his five-year research based on 78 “Turkish skulls” among a total of 137, which he collected with the help of a couple of his colleagues from the cemeteries scattered across Istanbul, was published in the journal of the Anthropological Society in Vienna (Weisbach 1873: 185-245). Acclaimed as the first extensive survey on “Turkish skulls,” a shortened version of this study also appeared with some editorial comments in the Gazette Médicale d’Orient (Weisbach 1874: 19-29).76 More important for our purposes is that Weisbach presented nine “modern Turkish skulls” to Vienna’s Hofmuseum, the Imperial Royal Natural History Court Museum, as a gift in 1877 (Szilvássy and Kentner 1978: 27). He also supplied the collection of the leading German anatomist and anthropologist Hermann Welcker (1822-97) in Halle with thirteen crania, of which four had been dug up from the cemeteries in Istanbul and classified as “Turkish” (Klunker 2014: 21, 121). Eventually, in late 1885, just a few months before Weisbach left his post at the Austria-Hungarian Hospital to return to Vienna (Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift 1886: 436), he sold his complete collection with a value of 2,000 guldens to a Viennese banker and philanthropist named Salo Cohn. This sizeable collection, containing 708 items, of which 195 were “Turkish skulls,” while the rest were of various ethno-religious groups under Ottoman rule, from Greeks, Armenians, and Jews to Kurds, “Negroes,” and Albanians, also traveled from Istanbul to Vienna to be incorporated into the anthropological holdings of the Hofmuseum as a gift from Cohn (Local-Anzeiger der Presse 1885: 1; von Hauer 1886: 33-34; Szilvássy and Kentner 1978: 27).77

  • 78 For example, by 1869, the University of Vienna’s collection of human anatomy had 472 “race skulls” (...)

47In a century marked by an unprecedented rage for skull collecting in Europe and America, first with the rise of phrenology and then, after its demise by the 1850s, of physical anthropology and craniometry, Weisbach’s and Hyrtl’s professional interest in human skulls was shared by many other anatomists, naturalists, and craniologists, such as Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840) in Germany, Samuel George Morton (1799-1851) in America, and Joseph Barnard Davis (1801-81) in England (Roque 2010: 132; Larson 2015: 181-82). Anthropological societies, as well as natural history and anatomy museums at the time, were also eager to bring together large series of skulls from which to obtain reliable comparative measurements.78 As previously stated, both institutions and individual collectors were dependent on networks of agents engaged in the trade in skulls and other human remains to enrich their collections. For example, Morton owed his collection, consisting of more than a thousand crania from every continent, to 138 donors ranging from missionaries and doctors to diplomats and soldiers (Fabian 2010: 36), while Welcker made up his collection of 192 crania with the aid of 36 people, mostly anatomists and anthropologists, among whom were also Davis and Weisbach (Klunker 2014: 19). In other words, the collectors’ web of connections that enabled them to acquire skulls of different origins inevitably included other collectors. It is therefore not implausible to surmise that Hyrtl might have received a few crania from his compatriot Weisbach. Regardless of this supposition, however, what is more apparent is that these two scientists of an empire with no colonies overseas saw and treated the Ottoman capital with a multiethnic population as a sort of quasi-colonial backyard to be cultivated for anatomical and anthropological materials. The skulls harvested from this backyard came under their possession so as to be measured, examined, and classified either to advance the cause of race science or to stand as intrinsically valuable anatomical specimens. Either way, they were turned into cash before arriving at their final destination, the museums. After all, just like Hyrtl’s anatomical preparations, skulls were not only scientific objects, but also commodities in the museum market, where even dead bodies were traded.

“Oddities of Creation” to Marvel at, Teratological Specimens to be Bottled

  • 79 The fate of the deceased human body and its parts raises contentious ethical questions today. One e (...)
  • 80 I owe this insight to the works of Igor Kopytoff (2013 [1986]) and Samuel J. M. M. Alberti (2005 an (...)
  • 81 This preservation technique was discovered in the 1660s, but only became ubiquitous in the nineteen (...)

48It goes without saying that the dead did not necessarily end up in graves in the past as they do not today.79 They were occasionally made into commodities, sold and bought, displayed, and thus had an “afterlife” career.80 A human corpse, as is well known, sometimes enjoyed a brief afterlife in a dissecting room until it putrefied and became useless for teaching purposes. At times, a dead body’s afterlife had been almost everlasting in museums or itinerant shows. This was exactly the fate of Julia Pastrana, a Mexican-Indian woman born with hypertrichosis (the superabundance of hair) and gingival overgrowth, whose death in 1860 did not terminate her career as a freak show performer, since her body was embalmed and displayed for more than a hundred years (Garland-Thomson 2017: 36-37). Infants and animals born with malformations had afterlives too, if they were preserved in glass jars in spirits of wine (ethyl alcohol) after death rather than buried so as to be added to the shelves of anatomy museums as teratological specimens.81

49In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, teratological specimens were highly popular items for museums of anatomy and pathology but were not easy to obtain due to their rarity. Added to this difficulty was the reluctance of parents to surrender their deceased infants to medical practitioners or local authorities (Mitchell 2006: 64; Quinlan 2009: 604-605). In order to overcome this obstacle, the Russian Tsar Peter the Great, for example, promulgated a number of edicts in the first half of the eighteenth century. He prohibited the killing of newborn infants and animals with malformations and decreed that both living and dead specimens be dispatched to the Kunstkamera in St. Petersburg in exchange for rewards (Anemone 2000: 592). Almost a century later, in 1811, the Austrian Emperor would follow a similar path, ordering with an imperial decree that “[…] any and all monsters, freaks, odd anatomical-pathological items, etc. which [the local and district physicians and local surgeons] may encounter” be preserved and sent to the University of Vienna (Hausner 1998: 114, quoted in Van Der Hoorn 1998: 79-80).

  • 82 Saint-Hilaire defined “monstrosity” as one category of anomaly. Accordingly, monstrosities were “ve (...)

50Neither the practice of collecting teratological specimens nor the popular and scientific preoccupation with “monsters” originated in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, however. The beginning of scientific writing on monstrous formations goes back to Aristotle, though the last quarter of the sixteenth century, as Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park put it, saw the emergence of “a specialized body of medical writing on the causes of monsters,” highlighting natural causes of monstrous births without disqualifying supernatural ones (1998: 192). This time period also witnessed the rise of cabinets of curiosities, which brought together marvels of art and nature, including human and animal rarities (Findlen 1996; Daston and Park 1998). From the mid-seventeenth century onwards, the controversial debates among surgeon-anatomists over the generation of monstrosities (as part of debates on embryonic development) and the concomitant explosion of teratological communications in scientific journals built up a considerable amount of knowledge on congenital malformations (Moscoso 1998; Monti 2000; Guerrini 2005; Quinlan 2009). This was accompanied by the proliferation of anatomy and medical museums throughout Europe, which, as we have seen, housed anatomical models, preparations, skulls, and teratological specimens (Carlyle 2017; Mandressi and Talairach-Vielmas 2015). So, by the early nineteenth century, when the French zoologist Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1805-61) coined the term “teratology” as a scientific neologism for the study of birth defects and offered a widely accepted system of classification for human monstrosities, monsters had long become objects of medical scrutiny that were to be collected at museums for the cause of science.82 This had reverberations for Ottoman medicine and society at large as well. Medical practitioners, local governors, ordinary people, and newspapers all contributed in various ways to the medicalization of “oddities of creation,” a process that occurred concurrently with their commoditization, as we shall see below.

51On 12 January 1836 the Takvim-i Vekâyi publicized six notices of curious phenomena reported to the gazette by local administrators around the empire. Among these notices assembled loosely under the title “oddity” (garîbe), three were about strange celestial apparitions while the rest were about extraordinary births: a chick hatched with extra limbs in Thessaloniki (Selanik), a calf born with displaced body parts in Tırnovo, and a baby girl born with two heads, four arms, and three legs in Livadia, a town in Greece (Takvim-i Vekâyi 1836). As was usually the case, the gazette devoted only little space to these occurrences, yet the last one includes some telling details regarding the posthumous fate of a malformed offspring. According to the news report, the two-headed baby had survived only fifteen minutes, after which a resident of Livadia named Todori purchased the corpse and placed it in a big jar filled with a preservative chemical (ecza) in order to take it to Izmir (Smyrna). On his route, however, he stopped in the Aegean island of Sakız (Scio, Chios), where the local administrator summoned him so as to see the “oddity” with his own eyes. Having viewed the baby, the administrator of Sakız penned a notice (jurnal) about it, which, as we know, found its way into the pages of Takvim-i Vekâyi.

52What Todori eventually did with the baby is unknown, but it is not hard to guess given his choice of destination. Izmir was an important port city on the western coastline of Anatolia, with a cosmopolitan population and a regular steamer service to Trieste and Marseille from 1833 on. A commercial and cultural contact zone dominated by consular officials, travelers, and merchants, sometimes hosting as many as 200 merchant ships (Mansel 2010: 51-55), it was no doubt ripe with opportunities for an enterprising man like Todori, who was presumably looking for ways to turn the “oddity” into profit, either by displaying it to the public or by selling it off to an interested buyer. However, it seems that the latter was more likely and arguably more lucrative an option than the former. Then, who were those potential buyers (other than people like Todori) ready to pay for anatomical rarities? To answer this question, we must shift our attention from the two-headed conjoined twins to another “oddity” born in the village of Kalopsida in Cyprus.

  • 83 Ceride-i Havadis does not mention Nevin Kerr by name. Kerr stayed in this post from 1843 to 1849 (M (...)
  • 84 For the traveling menageries and animal exhibitions that became popular in the Victorian period, se (...)

53The “oddity” born in Kalopsida was a calf with two heads. When the newspaper Ceride-i Havadis published a notice about it in April 1844, the calf was already dead, killed by its horrified owner. Evidently, the newspaper’s intent in covering this unusually embodied animal was not to evoke awe in the readers, but to make them understand the possible benefits of keeping such a rarity alive. As the notice reads, Niven Kerr, the British consul stationed in Larnaca (Tuzla), had purchased the upper neck part of the calf and immersed it in spirits to send it over to London (1844a).83 Kerr was an enthusiast for the antiquities and nature of the island, as his correspondences with the British Museum (natural history museum) in 1846 reveal. For instance, he would strive to persuade the trustees of the museum to purchase the newly discovered Sargon Stele in Cyprus (now on display at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum), an effort in which he failed, but his offer to supply the zoological collections with specimens of the Francolin (a local bird species) would be accepted (Merrillees 2016: 359-62). It is, therefore, highly likely that he might have sent the calf’s heads to the British Museum or, alternatively, to the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, renowned for its rich collection of anatomical and pathological specimens, had he not sold them to an anatomy lecturer or a showman running an itinerant menagerie willing to pay some money for animal curiosities, dead or alive.84 The newspaper does not state the amount Kerr paid for the calf’s heads, but a later notice that appeared in the Ceride-i Havadis shows that his counterpart in Iran, John McNeill, offered 5,000 guruş for a set of conjoined twins (1844b), an amount much higher than the sale price of Auzoux’s life-sized male anatomical model at the time. No matter how much the owner of the calf had earned from this transaction, however, the newspaper stressed that he could have come out better off “had the oddity not been dead and sent to Europe alive” and then gave a piece of advice to the reader, as if to echo Russian Tsar Peter the Great’s edicts: “When such an oddity is born, it should not be killed; if stillborn, it should be treated with care to keep its shape intact so that it would bring in more cash.” (1844a).

  • 85 In 1848, for instance, when a pair of conjoined twins sharing a head died after birth in a village (...)
  • 86 Without dismissing debates over the exploitation of individuals with physical deformities at freak (...)
  • 87 In his travel book The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain sarcastically recounts the spectacle of beggars (...)
  • 88 Fedor Jeftichew (1868-1904), a Russian sideshow performer known as “Jo-Jo the dog-faced boy” or “l’ (...)

54It is impossible to know to what extent the newspaper’s advice was heeded. But the emerging demand for and the traffic in teratological specimens both within and outside of the Ottoman domains sparked a shift in public attitudes regarding “oddities of creation.” This is not to imply that “oddities” were stripped of their theological meaning. Nor is it to suggest that each and every “oddity” born in an Ottoman town was commoditized and made its way into a museum. A malformed body, be it human or animal, elicited a range of emotions and reactions in regular people. As with the two-headed calf in Kalopsida, parents occasionally killed their newborns with severe deformities out of fear or embarrassment and secretly buried them (see, for example, Ceride-i Havadis 1846; Sabah 1876b). More often than not, malformed infants were either stillborn or died right after birth and were buried right away only after which the authorities were notified.85 There are also a few examples demonstrating that such animals and infants were put on display in local conveniences, but in the latter case, only if the newborn was dead (see, for example, Sabah 1876a; Tanin 1909). Children or adults who survived with deformities, on the other hand, did not have the “opportunity” to gain their livelihood from being exhibited at sideshows or fairs in the Ottoman domains, unlike many of their counterparts in Europe and the United States.86 Rather, they lived off of either government support or begging, just as many other people with disabilities did.87 In any case, neither Istanbul nor any other Ottoman city became host to such commercial venues as P. T. Barnum’s Museum and Menagerie, which profited from showcasing human “oddities” (the so-called freaks) to paying customers.88 Nevertheless, in the nineteenth century, any infant or animal with visible physical malformations might potentially turn into an anatomical specimen, owing to the growing awareness on the part of medical practitioners, merchants, consular officials, and ordinary people that anatomically unusual bodies had scientific significance and, additionally, market value within and beyond the Ottoman Empire. Such awareness made “oddities of creation” into collectable and tradable things and, as mentioned earlier, altered the way even most ordinary people treated them. An example from Cyprus yields insight into these changing attitudes while demonstrating how the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye’s ability to acquire teratological specimens from locations outside its physical reach relied heavily on the collaboration and enterprise of ordinary people driven by monetary incentives.

  • 89 İ.MVL 136/3724, 19 R 1265 (14 March 1849).
  • 90 The name of Yanni’s wife is not stated in the related documents. According to Ismail Adil’s letter, (...)

55In February 1849, the Supreme Council (Meclis-i Vâlâ, the central executive and legislative organ in Istanbul) received an official letter from the tax collector (muhassıl) of Cyprus, Ismail Adil Pasha.89 It was about a pair of twin girls joined at the abdomen with three legs who died soon after delivery in Omodos, a mountain village in the southern part of the island, and a six-legged sheep born in the vicinity, still alive. Also attached to the letter was a grotesque illustration depicting the infants, as if to attest to the veracity of their verbal reconstruction (Figure 4). However uncommon it is, this illustration is not my present concern, but rather the demand raised by the mother of the conjoined twins, a certain Yanni’s wife from the Greek community, whose simple wish was to show her deceased babies to the Sultan.90

56What prompted Yanni’s wife to make such a request was her understanding that the twins were somehow “useful and valuable” (işe yarar ve muteber birşey). As Ismail Adil wrote in his letter, she came to this conclusion after some foreign merchants offered to secure the bodies for 2,000 guruş, claiming that such rarities were in high demand abroad. However, he maintained, she had opted to approach the government with a sense of loyalty to the Sultan rather than accept the merchants’ offer right away. The local Greek community leaders (rüesâ-yi millet) appear to have influenced her decision as well. Although it is unclear at what point they were engaged in the case, they enclosed the corpses in a glass vessel filled with spirits, having learning that this method would prevent decay, and then commended the container to the Greek exarchate’s protection. In other words, it was through their involvement that the conjoined twins, “born because of God’s secret judgment and strange, mysterious providence,” in Ismail Adil’s words, were transformed into an anatomical specimen before the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye got interested in them.

Fig. 4. The illustration of the conjoined twins born in Omodos, Cyprus.

(Courtesy of the Presidential State Archives-Ottoman Archives in Istanbul, İ.MVL 136/3724, 19 Rebiülahir 1265 [14 March 1849]).

  • 91 İ.MVL 136/3724, 19 R 1265 (14 March 1849); A.AMD 7/12, 20 R 1265 (15 March 1849); A.MKT 183/17, 26 (...)

57On receiving the letter from Cyprus, the Supreme Council communicated with the then chief physician of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, Abdülhak Molla Efendi, to get his opinion on this matter. His response came rapidly as a demand. The chief physician stated how greatly beneficial it would be to obtain these anatomical rarities (nadir-ül-vücûd şeyler) for the museum, however, adding that the school lacked the budget to purchase them (understandably because of the fire that destroyed it just a few months earlier). So, he requested the payment be made by the state treasury on behalf of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye just as happened in the past, which was accepted.91 The six-legged sheep apparently did not make it to Istanbul, but the conjoined twins did, and they were put in the numunehane, as the medical journal Vekâyi-i Tıbbiye (founded in 1849 and published by the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye) announced in June, with a comment redefining the function of the museum as a space where one can marvel at the wonders of God’s creation and in a way revealing how science and religion were perceived as mutually complementary rather than in opposition: “such wonders [havârık-ı âde] that attest to God’s might and magnificence should be preserved in natural [history] museums” (1849: 1).

  • 92 See respectively A.AMD 40/76, 1268 (1851); İ.DH 340/22384, 9 B 1272 (16 March 1856) and A.MKT.MHM 3 (...)
  • 93 İ.DH 340/22384, 9 B 1272 (16 March 1856).

58In the proceeding decades, the anatomy museum acquired more specimens from the distant provinces, including an unusual calf from Yanya (Ioannina), a seven-legged goat and a calf’s head from Cyprus, and a peculiar lamb from Trabzon.92 Unfortunately, archival documents about these specimens are brief. Still, they add to our understanding of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye’s local networks of acquisition and also reveal how animals (and infants) with malformations, once perceived as mere “oddities” born out of God’s will, began to acquire an additional meaning as something of medical importance that should be sent over to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye and “brought under scrutiny” there, just as Osman Pasha, the governor of Cyprus who shipped the seven-legged goat from Lefkoşa (Nicosia) to the school, noted in his letter to Istanbul in 1856.93 Tellingly, but not surprisingly, this understanding also drove medical practitioners to retain and appropriate the malformed newborns they encountered in their practice. In one instance, when a two-headed boy died right after a difficult birth in Üsküdar (Istanbul), one of the attending doctors, Ata Bey, who was also the director of the Police Jail and Hospital, brought the body to his home in all likelihood to offer it to the museum, if not for other reasons (Tasvîr-i Efkâr 1866: 1). In Alaşehir (Aydın Province), the municipal physician embalmed the corpse of a misshapen infant born to the local census officer’s wife in order to present it to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye (Sabah 1899: 3). In another instance from Kayseri, a local pharmacist purchased the corpses of a pair of conjoined twins and put them in spirits to send them over to Istanbul (Mısır İskenderiye 1889: 2).

59In the context of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century France, Sean M. Quinlan states that offering a “monster” to medical societies or other authorities was a way of garnering “official recognition” for a local doctor of humble origins (2009: 605-606). In the same vein, Stephen C. Kenny shows how the possible benefits in the form of prestige and professional reputation encouraged country doctors in the antebellum American South to donate specimens (mostly of black people and the enslaved) to the anatomy and pathology museums as well as present case history reports for publication (2013: 32-62). Based on several examples, we can presume that a similar pattern held true for doctors practicing in Ottoman domains as well. A “monstrous” fetus delivered or a rare medical condition encountered during daily practice was an opportunity for medical practitioners that could help them foster professional bonds within the medical community, attain membership in learned societies, and produce case history reports through which they could bolster their claims to medical expertise and professional authority. For example, when the quarantine doctor in Gallipoli, Georges Pumpuras (Boubouras), presented a report to the Société Impériale de Médecine de Constantinople in 1895 about a Greek girl whom he had examined and diagnosed as a “hermaphrodite,” he was immediately proposed for admission as a correspondent member of the Société (Stamboul 1895; Gazette Médicale d’Orient 1895b). Even luckier was A. Caracache (Caracach, Karakaş), an Ottoman Armenian obstetrician and gynecologist who had formerly worked in Paris but had been running a private clinic in Istanbul at the time, as the “fœtus monstrueux” he had just delivered was an extremely rare case of anencephaly, a severe congenital defect “that refers to the incomplete development of the brain, skull, and scalp.”94 In a report he presented to the Société in June 1895, Caracache underlined this point by stating that the deceased infant defied any teratological taxonomy, including the one advanced by Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (Caracache 1895: 229-30). Recognizing this as an opportunity, he soon requested to be a resident member of the Société, which was accepted (Gazette Médicale d’Orient 1895c: 324; ibid. 1896: 39). Meanwhile, he sent the copies of his report to major medical and anthropological societies in France, though it appears not to have aroused profound interest at the time (Bulletin de l’Académie nationale de médecine 1895: 591; Bulletins de la Société d’anthropologie de Paris 1895: 684; Annales de Gynécologie 1896: 183). However, it found echo at least in two Ottoman illustrated weeklies, the Malumat (1895a: 602, 606) and L’Orient Illustré (1896: 114, 118), which published a slightly shortened version of the report with a studio photograph of the deceased infant (Figure 5).95 Eventually, in 1899, Caracache gained the attention he longed for when he presented the case at the Société obstétricale de France, this time not as an unclassified specimen, but as a new type of monstrosity, which he coined as “anencéphale sans fissure spinale et avec bifidité faciale,” and also with more extensive references to the most recent literature on obstetrics and embryology (Caracache 1899: 497-500). Indeed, the anencephalic fetus turned out to be an opportunity of a lifetime for Caracache. It helped him gain reputation in international medical circles and carve his name into the literature on obstetrics, teratology, and child neurology. In 1902, his report was republished in the official journal of the General Syndicate of Midwives in France, La Sage-Femme (1902: 183-84), and he received recognition from one of the pioneers in the field of child neurology, Julius Zappert of Vienna (1867-1942), to mention a few (Zappert 1910: 14). The fact that he left Istanbul sometime in 1897 and continued his career in Paris (and then in Nice) may also be related to his report as it was through this report that he managed to forge links or renewed his former connections with learned societies in France.96

  • 97 Nicolas Andrioméno (1850-1929) was a famous Greek Ottoman photographer with a studio in Pera (Istan (...)

Fig. 5. Un fœtus monstrueux; An infant oddity of creation (Garâib-i hilkatten bir çocuk). From Malumat 27, 10 Receb 1313 (26 December 1895), p. 602. Photographer: [Nicolas] Andrioméno.97

(Courtesy of the Beyazıt State Library, İstanbul, Hakkı Tarık Us Collection [This photograph can also be found in L’Orient Illustré 1896: 114; Caracache 1899: 498, and Zappert 1910: 14])

60As to the afterlife of the anencephalic specimen, contrary to what one may expect, Caracache offered it neither to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye nor to the Société Impériale de Médecine, which had established its own anatomical-pathological museum in 1894 (Gazette Médicale d’Orient 1895a). The specimen shared the same fate as the two-headed calf born in Cyprus and the skulls collected by Weisbach from the cemeteries across Istanbul. By 1899, it had already been incorporated into the Musée Dupuytren’s holdings in Paris, a museum famous for its teratological collections (Caracache 1899: 500).

In Lieu of Conclusion: “Know Thyself”

  • 98 For another photograph showing a pair of conjoined twins born to a Greek family in Ayvalık, a town (...)

61While it is of little surprise to many of us to witness a rare specimen finding its way into an anatomy and pathology museum like the Musée Dupuytren, it may be astounding to see a jargon-laden medical report, supplemented with a disturbing, yet eye-catching photograph, making its way into non-medical popular Ottoman weeklies. Indeed, the Ottoman reading public only occasionally encountered such images and medical reports with such detail in cheap print, presumably due to the rarity of “monstrous” births.98 Nevertheless, they were familiar with coming across medical and scientific content in the pages of daily newspapers and illustrated journals, emblematic of the burgeoning print and visual culture of the late nineteenth century. From the 1880s onward, these widely read periodicals became unequivocally the most palpable manifestation of the medicalization of society and the rising enthusiasm for science that marked the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909). They circulated translations of medical books, instructive essays on anatomy and physiology, medical case histories, and photographs of doctors performing surgeries on operating tables, alongside grateful letters from cured patients, announcements of the most recent medical discoveries, and news articles about physically and anatomically unusual bodies (microcephalic children, bearded and horned women, polydactyl people, “hermaphrodites,” conjoined twins, and so forth) through which they disseminated new and controversial ideas about health and disease, heredity and degeneration, the anatomical body, sexuality, “(ab)normality,” and the like far beyond the elite medical circles. In this regard, Caracache’s report on the “fœtus monstrueux” was not an isolated case, but just one piece of content related to medicine and anatomy among many that an Ottoman reader would encounter in lay periodicals in this time period.

  • 99 Dr. İbrahim (Yusuf) Şevki, a Mekteb-i Tıbbiye graduate, studied forensic medicine and neurology at (...)
  • 100 For instance, in his famous anatomical textbook Lehrbuch der Anatomie des Menschen (1846), Josef Hy (...)

62For instance, one such remarkable encounter occurred in 1884-85, when the popular newspaper Tercümân-ı Hakikat serialized for a year the full translation of the renowned French forensic physician and sexologist Auguste Ambroise Tardieu’s Question medico-légale de l’identité […] (1872). A monograph on hermaphroditism intended for physicians and containing the memoirs of the French “hermaphrodite” Herculine Barbin (1838-68), which is today recognized as a paradigmatic case reflecting nineteenth-century medicine’s obsession with “true sex,” the book was translated into Ottoman Turkish as Hüviyet (Identity) by İbrahim Şevki (?-1893), an alienist and assistant professor of forensic medicine at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, and published with a foreword by the well-known journalist and writer Ahmed Midhat Efendi, who recommended Hüviyet to medical and law professionals as well as avid novel readers.99 Soon after the serialization ended in September 1885, Hüviyet also came out as a two-volume book, which suggests its popularity with Ottoman audiences (Aykut 2019a: 229-58). Likewise, before it was published as a book in 1892, Dr. Şerafeddin Mağmumi’s illustrated volume on human anatomy and physiology, Vücûd-ı Beşer (The Human Body), had also been serialized in the Tercümân-ı Hakikat. In his preface, Mağmumi mentions how his work was turned into a book as a response to readers’ demand, but beyond that, and more significantly, he highlights the epistemological importance he and his contemporary counterparts assigned to anatomical knowledge as self-knowledge, an understanding commonly shared by many doctors worldwide.100

  • 101 Besim Ömer adopts some parts of Figuier’s preface almost exactly without attribution. For instance, (...)
  • 102 The Atatürk Library has both editions of Mir‘ât-ı Vücûd-ı Beşer. However, no copies of Mükemmel Mir (...)

63According to Mağmumi, the science of the body (ilmü’l-ebdan) was at the top of the hierarchy of all sciences, which one should strive to learn (1892: 7-8). To bolster this claim, he made extensive quotations from two illustrated books on anatomy and physiology written for lay people: Beşer (The Human, 1885) by Beşir Fuad (1852-87), an intellectual known as an ardent proponent of positivism, and Kendini Bil (Know Thyself, 1891) by Besim Ömer (1862-1940), the eminent obstetrician and gynecologist, where the authors equated the knowledge of one’s own anatomical body with the knowledge of the self, as the title of Besim Ömer’s book, the famous Platonic maxim, already suggests (Beşir Fuad 1885: 3-11; Besim Ömer 1891: 4-10). Like Besim Ömer who, adopting from the French popularizer Dr. Louis Figuier’s Connais-toi toi-même (1879), emphasized the benefits of self-knowledge through instruction in anatomy and physiology for women (meaning mothers), young boys and girls, and teachers while advocating the necessity of adding anatomy education to public schools’ curricula with concerns about improving individual well-being and public health in his mind (1891: 5-10), Mağmumi too argued for rendering anatomical knowledge accessible to all with the same concerns and saw his own work as a contribution to this endeavor (1892: 10-11).101 Notably, this understanding was embodied in new forms in the following decades, such as anatomical flap books, which were popular in Europe and the United States at the time. Arakel Biberciyan (Biberdjian), an Istanbul-based publisher, published the first examples of flap books in the Ottoman Empire: Mir‘ât-ı Vücûd-ı Beşer (Mirror of the [Male] Human Body, 1910 and 1913 [second edition]), Mükemmel Mir‘ât-ı Vücûd-ı Nisâ (Perfect Mirror of the Female Body, 1913), and Mükemmel Mir‘ât-ı Vücûd-ı Feres (Perfect Mirror of the Horse Body, 1913?).102 Evoking Auzoux’s detachable anatomical models, these books were designed to illustrate male, female, and horse anatomies in three-dimensional forms on paper manikins so as to allow lay readers, paramedics, and students to interactively study internal organs and muscular-skeletal systems of the body (Figure 6). In the foreword to Mir‘ât-ı Vücûd-ı Beşer, the anonymous author, most likely the publisher Biberciyan himself, promoted his product to readers saying how its simple language makes it easy to understand for anyone unfamiliar with anatomy. The flap books, he further claimed, were superior to popular anatomy books in elucidating the circulatory, digestive, and other systems, and that they were far more useful than expensive plaster, wax, or papier-mâché anatomical models (1913: 1). So, the flap book, as he saw it, was the apex of printing technology that made anatomical knowledge available and more comprehensible to a wider readership, even rendering the guidance of doctors in learning anatomy unnecessary and superfluous.

Fig. 6. Chromolithograph anatomical flap-up illustrations with 114 details in Ottoman Turkish and French. From Mir‘at-ı Vücûd-ı Beşer, İstanbul, Arşak Garoyan Matbaası, 1326 (1910). Publisher: Arakel Biberciyan (Biberdjian).

(Courtesy of İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Atatürk Library)

64Then who were the readers of these books? How did these popular anatomies shape the way ordinary people understood their own bodies and “selves” as well as those of others? To what extent, if at all, did they manage to democratize anatomical knowledge -an exclusive possession of medical professionals who acquired it through cutting open bodies? Regrettably, I do not have ready answers to these questions. But it is clear that at a time when self-knowledge was appreciated and propagated as a long-forgotten virtue that should be revived by turning to the body, the print industry became a channel to circulate and popularize anatomical knowledge. Assuming the role of public educators and also with some prospect of profit, medical professionals and non-medical intellectuals alike marketed anatomy to lay people via newspapers, illustrated journals, popular anatomy books, and colorful anatomical flap manikins. In other words, they transferred the knowledge generated out of dead bodies from the dissecting room to the world of the living.

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Notes

1 For details about the background of this diplomatic mission, see Ercan 1991: 73-76.

2 Although Seyyid Vahid Efendi (?-1828) does not mention the Josephinum by name in the Sefâretnâme, his description of the three-story medical school, holding a collection of wax anatomical models, proves beyond doubt that the school he visited in Vienna (Beç) was the Josephinum. Today, the Florentine wax models are housed in the Narrenturm in Vienna.

3 “Ve fî külli şey’in lehû âyetun tedüllü ‘alâ ennehû vâhidun” (Herşeyde O’nun birliğini gösteren bir alamet vardır). Seyyid Vahid Efendi cites this verse without attribution. One source shows that it belongs to the Abbasid poet Ebu’l-‘Atâhiye (748-825?) (Parıldı 2007: 186-87), but the same verse recurs in several other texts as well, including Müzekki’n-Nüfūs, a popular Sufi text in prose penned by a fifteenth century Ottoman Sheikh and poet, Eşrefoğlu Rûmî (Bağdemir 1997: 7).

4 In the context of early Ottoman and non-Ottoman cosmographies, Sariyannis (2015: 445-46) and Coşkun (2020: 90-91) emphasize the nuances in the meaning of “acîbe/acâib” (wonders, marvels) and “garîbe/garâib” (oddities). Nineteenth century Ottoman sources, however, use these words interchangeably and synonymously to denote a variety of extraordinary and strange phenomena, including unusual births (monstrous births). Another important issue about the terminology is that though the literal translation of “monster” into Turkish is “canavar”, an infant or an animal born or stillborn with severe malformations or any person with unusual anatomical or physical features was not categorized as a “monstrous being”, but rather as a “garîbe”, “acîbe” or “acîbe/garîbe-i hilkat” in Ottoman society, as mentioned above. The first medical dictionary from French to Ottoman Turkish, Lugat-i Tıbbiye, based on the dictionary of Pierre H. Nysten and published by the Ottoman Society of Medicine (Cemiyet-i Tıbbiye-i Osmaniye) in 1873, gives the equivalents of “monstre” and “monstruosité” as “acib” and “acibiyet” respectively (Lugat-i Tıbbiye 1873: 391). Similarly, in his encyclopedic lexicon, Kamus-ı Tıbbî, Dr. Şerafeddin Mağmumi (1869-1927) rendered these two words as “acûbe” and “acûbiyet” (1910: 732-733). In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some other phrases related to “monstrosity” were “sû-i teşekkül” (malformation) and “acâibat-ı vilâdiye” (congenital oddities). See, for instance, Şekib 1901; Besim Ömer 1904: 385.

5 For an elaborate study on the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye’s natural history museum and herbarium, see Çelik 2020. Çelik emphasizes the transregional character of exchanges in natural history objects as well as the agency of Ottoman and non-Ottoman collectors, bureaucrats, and physicians in this process. New studies on nineteenth and early twentieth-century college museums have also contributed significantly to the literature by bringing to light the networks of collecting natural history objects and the public reception of these collections. See Günergun 2019; İleri 2019a; İleri 2019b; Göçmengil 2019. Also see İleri’s contribution to this special issue.

6 In her comprehensive reference book covering the early years of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye at Galatasaray, Ülman (2017) does not devote much space to the anatomy museum, but brings together the full texts of the school’s annual academic reports from 1841-42 to 1852 (with the exception of the 1844-45 report), which became extensively useful for this study. In a conference paper, Sarı and Özdemir (2020) dealt with the history of anatomy and zoology collections housed at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye and the Cerrahpaşa Museum of Medical History (founded in 1987). The paper’s most important contribution to the literature is that it provides photographs showing the inside of the anatomy museum in the 1920s. Some of the photographs belong to the earlier period of the museum. I also wrote a brief article on the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye anatomy museum, mainly focusing on the teratological specimens (Aykut 2019b).

7 For some important contributions to the literature on the material culture of medicine that inspired my study, see the volumes and special issues edited by Talairach-Vielmas 2014; Knoeff and Zwijnenberg 2015; Wils, de Bont, and Au 2017.

8 HAT 696/33602, 29 Z 1250 (28 April 1835). All archival documents cited in this article are from the Presidential Ottoman Archives in Istanbul.

9 Though I have been unable to find the original copy of this order in the Ottoman archives, I have found two documents summarizing its content. See HAT 404/21156, 11 [Z] 1247 (12 May 1832; the document is misdated as October 1832) and HAT 363/20138/F, 17 R 1248 (13 September 1832). The date of the former document suggests that the order must have been issued sometime around early 1832.

10 HAT 1201/47157, 29 Z 1243 (12 July 1828). The Tıbhâne-i Âmire had a separate class for training military surgeons until the establishment of Cerrahhâne in 1832 (Yıldırım 2007: 239).

11 I could not locate any information on Dr. Bryce’s visit to Istanbul in 1830, though more information is available about his second visit. He came to Istanbul in 1855 during the Crimean War when the Ottoman state demanded medical staff from Britain and worked at the Kuleli Hospital in Üsküdar as a staff surgeon until May 1856 (Shepherd 1991: 415-16, 641). Also see HR.SYS 1336/36, 17 February 1855.

12 Şânizâde Mehmed Ataullah is the author of Hamse-i Şânizâde, a five-volume treatise in medical science dealing with anatomy, physiology, internal diseases, surgery, and pharmacology. The volume on anatomy, Miratü’l-Ebdan (1820), is known to be the first book with anatomical engravings published in Ottoman Turkish, though the engravings were copied from the books of such eminent anatomists as Vesalius, Albinus, and Duverney (Kayaalp 2016: 34-35).

13 For more details about Maurocordato, see Sgantzos et al. 2015: 172-78.

14 On Sat-Deygallière, see Yıldırım 2007: 239-41.

15 C.MF 14/681, 6 M 1253 (12 April 1837). Together with the expenses of packing, transportation, and duty, the models cost the Ottoman government 6,552 francs (26,300 guruş). The list of total expenses provided by Auzoux is dated February 1837.

16 HAT 746/35262, 20 R 1253 (24 July 1837). The money for the models was borrowed from the bankers André & Cottier in Paris. See C.MF 14/681, 6 M 1253 (12 April 1837).

17 For instance, Mehmed Ali Pasha donated to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye a zoological collection, which provided the basis for the establishment of a museum of zoology in 1843-44 (Ülman 2017: 224). A few years later, the natural history museum of the school received another donation from Egypt that included such specimens as petrified seashells, reptiles, insects, tortoises, and a crocodile, the greater part of which came from the private collection of Clot Bey (Spitzer 1847: 189, Ülman 2017: 254, Çelik 2020: 96). Also in the 1860s, the Khedive of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, sent plant seeds and saplings for the botanical garden of the school and a collection of animal skeletons. See A.MKT.MHM 378/14, 24 Za 1283 (30 March 1867); A.MKT.MHM 398/29, 23 N 1284 (18 January 1868); İ.DH 592/41180, 4 S 1286 (16 May 1869).

18 For more about anatomy education at the medical school in Abu Za‘abel, see Sonbol 1991: 63-65; Maerker 2013: 551-52. Though Fahmy provides a detailed account of the early generations of Egyptian physicians’ approach to cadaveric dissection, in addition to non-elite Egyptians’ reaction to this practice in his book, he does not mention the anatomical models. See Fahmy 2018: 39-80.

19 The quote allegedly belongs to Baron Charles Dupin, the reporter of the Central Jury of the French Industrial Exposition held in 1834. However, in his original report published in the third volume of Rapport du Jury Central sur les Produits de l’Industrie Française Exposés en 1834, Dupin just says “M. Auzou [sic.] en a fabriqué pour l’Angleterre, l’Égypte et l’Amérique.” (1836: 455). This is understandable given that Auzoux had yet to sell any model to the Tıbhâne at that time. Then, it must have been Auzoux himself who penned the quoted text, presumably to update the information provided in Dupin’s original report and, thus, to increase the appeal of his clastic models.

20 HAT 746/35262, 20 R 1253 (24 July 1837); HAT 746/35262, 29 Z 1253 (26 March 1838). Auzoux’s models purchased for the Tıbhâne has long been a neglected topic in the literature until Ortuğ and Yüzbaşıoğlu published a short article on the subject (2019: 1147-54). Their study is a valuable contribution, though it has several flaws; suffice to say that it is not based on exhaustive research.

21 “La difficulté de me procurer des sujets montrant à toutes les époques de la grossesse m’a mis dans l’impossibilité de terminer la collection de pièces de rechange propre à montrer le développement de l’utérus et du fœtus aux principales époques de la gestation […]” See HAT 746/35262, 20 R 1253 (24 July 1837). Further see, HAT 827/37465, 3 Z 1253 (28 February 1838) and HAT 1172/46356, 29 Z 1253 (26 March 1838).

22 Another fact that strengthens this claim is the sale price of these models. The Ottoman government paid 3,000 and 1,500 francs for the obstetrics manikin and the uterus models, respectively. See HAT 746/35262, 20 R 1253 (24 July 1837). A few years later, however, the same models were marketed in the United States at a much cheaper price, 1,000 and 500 francs, respectively (Auzoux 1841: 3-4).

23 Also see İ.MVL 44/830, 11 N 1258 (16 October 1842).

24 For two elaborate studies on nineteenth-century Ottoman pronatalist discourse and policies, see Balsoy 2016; Demirci and Somel 2008.

25 See, for instance, the scornful comment that appeared in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 1841: 412 on Auzoux’s “artificial anatomy”: “Those who study anatomy or operative surgery solely on a manakin will be better prepared for operating on paper men than living beings.” The New York Medical Gazette’s opinion was similar: Auzoux’s models were not only expensive but also far from being “a substitute for the raw material.” The Gazette likened the study of dissection with these models to “dissecting with gloves on […]” (The New York Medical Gazette 1841: 126). For the French Academy of Sciences’ unfavorable remarks in the 1820s, see Maerker 2014.

26 To get an idea of how large a sum of money 4,000 francs (approximately 16,200 guruş) was, one can have a look at the school’s expenditure (not including teaching staff’s salaries), which was 5,900 guruş for the last three months of 1839. See C.MF 14/656, 7 Za 1255 (12 January 1840).

27 In 1845, the chief physician, Abdülhak Molla, requested the Sultan to purchase Thibert’s Musée d’Anatomie Pathologique for the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, on the ground that almost every decent medical school in Europe had acquired one, as reported by Reşid Pasha, then the ambassador to Paris. See İ.HR 29/1336, 8 Ra 1261 (17 March 1845). The Ottoman government did not turn down this request and asked Reşid Pasha to send a price list. According to the list prepared by Thibert, the Musée contained a total of 589 moulages at a price of 20,438 francs. Following this correspondence, the purchase was postponed. See İ.HR 30/1390, 20 C 1261 (26 June 1845). In 1851, the Musée was still on the demand list of the school’s professors (Ülman 2017: 288).

28 HAT 746/35262, 20 R 1253 (24 July 1837).

29 After the fire of 1848, the school was relocated several times. It was in Humbarahane Barracks between 1849-65, Gergeroğlu Mansion (Hasköy) between 1865-66, Taşkışla (Demirkapı) between 1866-73, Galatasaray between 1873-76, Taşkışla between 1876-1903, and Haydarpaşa between 1903-33 (Yıldırım 2010: 262-68).

30 The new models were of human and animal anatomies, with a value of 30,119 francs. See MAD.d. 13638, 21 M 1291 (10 March 1874). The related entry in the register is dated June 30, 1873. In 1890, ten more papier-mâché anatomical models were bought in Vienna. However, the short report on this purchase contains no information on the model maker or the specific institution to which these models were supplied. See MF.MKT 114/172, 10 Ca 1307 (2 January 1890).

31 Y.PRK.ASK 143/69, 18 R 1898 (5 September 1898).

32 İ.DH 1167/91223, 3 Ca 1307 (26 December 1889). As the US navy surgeon Jerome Henry Kidder wrote in 1878, the medical department of the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut also had “mechanical papier-maché [sic] models of the eye, ear, uterus, and appendages,” in addition to wax manikins and other anatomical models of plants and animals (1879: 405).

33 According to the information provided at the website of the Library of Congress, the photographs in the Abdülhamid II Collection date from about 1880 to 1893. See https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/ahii/ [Accessed in September 2021].

34 For two more photographs, probably taken in the 1920s, where one can see Auzoux’s life-sized male anatomical model standing in a glass showcase next to dry and wet specimens and skeletons at the anatomy museum, see Sarı and Özdemir 2020: 30-31.

35 ŞD 522/25, 7 Za 1313 (20 April 1896).

36 HR.TO 570/28, 27 October 1849. Besides Charrière, the Ottoman Porte had commercial relationships with other eminent medical and surgical instrument makers, namely Georges Lüer, Louis Mathieu, and Henri Galante, who were awarded the fifth-class order of the Medjidie in 1869 for their service to the Ottoman Empire. See İ.DH 594/41333, 10 Ra 1286 (20 June 1869).

37 HR.TO 70/109, 7 October 1851.

38 HR.TO 408/33, 30 October 1847.

39 Semih Çelik, for example, reports that Annibale Foresti, a Tuscan physician and collector, sold part of his collection of flora and ethnographic objects to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye, and the rest to Ismail Pasha, the school’s chief physician (2019: 36).

40 Calenzuoli was the son of Francesco Calenzuoli, a wax artist and the pupil of Clemente Susini, the most celebrated Florentine wax sculptor at La Specola. For an image of his most widely known waxwork, the “Muscular Anatomy of the Face and Neck,” housed at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, see Landes 2008: 53.

41 A.MKT.MHM 266/38, 29 Z 1279 (17 June 1863).

42 HR.MKT 783/13, 22 S 1290 (21 April 1873); HR.MKT 785/17, 9 Ra 1290 (7 May 1873); HR.MKT 786/19, 19 Ra 1290 (17 May 1873).

43 Chanal established that Auzoux’s models found market in eighteen countries across three continents just between the years 1873 and 1875 (2014: 57).

44 The translation is taken from Strauss’s article on Stambolski (2019: 288), which provides the full translation of the preface to the Petit atlas, originally written in Ottoman Turkish.

45 A document dated 1805, in which the Ottoman state granted permission for the establishment of a Greek hospital in Istanbul, highlights the importance of dissection for training competent physicians. See Ergin 1977: 335.

46 For some earlier studies on the introduction of cadaveric dissection into medical training at the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye and the challenges in acquiring anatomical subjects, see Akıncı 1962; Kâhya 1979; Çelik 2008; Aykut 2014.

47 These physicians were namely Dr. Bernard, Sigmund Spitzer, Joseph Wartbichler, Lorenz Rigler, and Graziadio Friedrich Vallon. For biographical information about these figures, except Vallon, see Ülman 2017: 136-45, 171-75; Samsinger 2018: 262-71, 276-90. For Vallon’s biography and a list of his books in his private library that were sold to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye by his wife after his death, see Aykut 2022.

48 For two accounts of body-snatching from the Ottoman domains, see Penrose 1941: 42 and Nakashian 1940: 33-37. Penrose relates briefly how doctors at the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut organized a grave robbing in 1869, while Nakashian recounts a similar incident that occurred around 1887 when he was a student at the medical department of the Central Turkey College in Aintab. The latter also involved a certain brigand named Postallı Mehmed, who assisted Nakashian and his friend in stealing a fresh corpse from the cemetery in exchange for two gold liras (about nine dollars). There is no reported incident of body-snatching in Istanbul, but an archival document dated 1891 provides a glimpse into the illicit means of securing skulls, which involved four students of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye caught with eighteen human skulls by the watchman of the Greek Cemetery near the Balıklı Greek Church. See DH.MKT 1863/30, 22 M 1309 (28 August 1891). For an account of the theft of bones from the Karacaahmet Cemetery by a Mekteb-i Tıbbiye student, see Sağlam 1959: 64.

49 As early as 1831, the previously mentioned Glaswegian physician, Charles Bryce, had also highlighted a similar point after some inquiries, saying that “[…] there exists no law of the prophet, nor decision of his commentators [fuqaha], against anatomical demonstration, and therefore, that a decree from the Mufti, or order from the Hakim Bashi, would be sufficient to authorize their performance. […] It is, moreover, believed that the spirit of the Turkish religion, which is stript [sic] of much of its former fanaticism and intolerance, would be easily reconciled to the matter […]” (1831: 11). For an elaboration on the position of postclassical Islamic jurists and Egyptian ulema towards dissection, see Fahmy 2018: 65-70. Fahmy points out that the ulema’s concerns regarding dissection were more related to delays in burial that the practice might cause than to the Islamic doctrines (69). I argued elsewhere that the Ottoman public concerns regarding dissection were also around alleged inappropriate postmortem treatment of the dead, such as burying the dissected corpse without washing and enshrouding it (Aykut 2014: 25-27).

50 İ.DH 38/1771, 18 S 1257 (11 April 1841).

51 Ibid.

52 The Russian physician Artemis Rafalowitsch (1816-56) claims to have witnessed the very first dissections conducted on the cadavers of two female African slaves in April 1846 (1847: 420).

53 Also see İ.DH 144/7419, 6 Ca 1263 (22 April 1847). In 1842, 1 franc was equal to 4 guruş (Turkish piaster), as understood from a list of books purchased for the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye’s library. According to the list, the 4-volume Anatomie Générale (1801) by Xavier Bichat, for example, was bought for 21 francs (84 guruş). See ML.MSF.d.3943, 14 Ra 1258 (25 April 1842). From 1842 to 1847, if we assume a constant exchange rate between the franc and the guruş, 30 guruş was roughly equal to 7,5 francs.

54 The authorization to dissect pauper bodies came only in the 1890s, however. See BEO 534/39992, 16 C 1312 (15 December 1894); Y.MTV 111/64, 25 C 1312 (24 December 1894).

55 Y.PRK.ASK 143/69, 18 R 1898 (5 September 1898).

56 Forensic autopsies on Muslim bodies became more common from the late nineteenth century onwards. People who suspected their loved ones had been murdered requested postmortems in order to learn the exact cause of death and substantiate their claims in court. See, Aykut 2014: 27-29.

57 Sağlam also recounts how, as a group of students, they carried off the corpse of a recently deceased patient from the clinic to perform a furtive autopsy (1959: 79).

58 It is unknown when the museum was exactly established. The earliest mention of the anatomy museum (fenn-i teşrih numunehanesi) can be found in the annual report of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye pertaining to the academic year 1841-42. For the report, see Ülman 2017: 195-207 and TS.MA.e 385/12, 1 M 1258 (12 February 1842). However, mentions of the numunehane, without qualifying which numunehane is at issue, date back to 1839. See C.MF 14/656, 7 Za 1255 (12 January 1840). A separate hall for keeping anatomical objects and specimens presumably became possible when the Tıbhâne-i Âmire moved from Otlukçu Barracks to its new and larger building at Galatasaray in 1838.

59 Hyrtl has not received enough credit from scholars for his donations to the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye. Gasser’s article on Hyrtl (1994), which reproduced four letters sent to the anatomist by his contacts in Istanbul, namely Sigmund Spitzer, Alexander Sotto, Musa Arif Efendi, and Salih Efendi, is the most welcome contribution to the literature, though it has gone largely unnoticed by historians of Ottoman medicine. Another article by Ortuğ, Yücel, and Ay (2003), on the other hand, says little about Hyrtl, despite its promising title.

60 Corrosion casting was a technique that “involved injecting coloured wax into hollow organs such as blood vessels and excretory ducts,” as Tatjana Buklijas described it (2015: 147). For a more detailed description, see George 2018: 543.

61 Ceride-i Havadis 1842: 2; Oesterreichischer Beobachter 1842: 1074; Linzer Zeitung 1842: 631; Preẞburger Zeitung 1842: 499; Lemberger Zeitung 1842: 552. In the annual academic report pertaining to the years 1843-44, Dr. Bernard also mentions of a very unique mercury-injected preparation of the testicle (Ülman 2017: 223; Journal de Constantinople et des Intérêts Orientaux 1844, Supplément), though the list provided by the newspapers does not refer to it.

62 Also see İ.HR 18/898, 6 L 1258 (10 November 1842), A.MKT 5/43, 9 L 1258 (12 November 1842). For Hyrtl’s letter of gratitude to the Sultan, see İ.HR 21/987, 5 R 1259 (5 May 1843). The value of the Sultan’s gift was 12,500 guruş, a sum carefully calculated to be no less than the value of Hyrtl’s gifts, 10,000 guruş.

63 For a nuanced analysis of Marcel Mauss’s notion of gift exchange and its critique, see Pyyhtinen 2014.

64 References to the Sultan’s gift in accounts of Hyrtl’s biography attest to that. See also Österreichische Illustrirte Zeitung 1854: 1474; Illustrirte Zeitung 1856: 282; Deutsches Volksblatt 1894: 2.

65 HR.TO 150/65, 25 April 1848; İ.HR 45/2140, 12 C 1264 (16 May 1848).

66 It is notable that Abdullah Bey, too, lost his private collection to a fire in 1867, including his entomological collection, just awarded a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris (Gazette Médicale d’Orient 1874: 78).

67 The date of donation is October 1870. The monetary value of the donation is stated in İ.HR 246/14621, 24 Ş 1287 (19 November 1870).

68 HR.TO 107/52, 7 October 1870; İ.HR 246/14621, 24 Ş 1287 (19 November 1870).

69 HR.MKT 702/30, 10 N 1287 (4 December 1870).

70 Arif Musa Bey and Stephan Aslanian Pasha were among the four students dispatched to Vienna in 1848 (Ülman 2017: 265).

71 For Hyrtl’s marketing strategies and target audiences, see George 2018: 541-51 and McLeary 2001: 116-21. George particularly focuses on Hyrtl’s anatomical displays at the 1873 World’s Fair in Vienna.

72 See Gasser 1994: 120 for an itemized list of anatomical preparations that Salih Efendi attached to his letter. Among the items on the list were artificial human skeletons, cranial bones, a female pelvis with genitals, preparations of human embryology and microscopic anatomy.

73 The literature on the connections between colonialism, physical anthropology, museum collections, and the traffic in human remains is large. For two important examples, see Douglas and Ballard 2008 and Roque 2010.

74 In a book where Hyrtl provides an inventory of the University of Vienna’s collections of human anatomy under his supervision, he also gives brief information about his own skull collection. However, he mentions only three of his donors who contributed to his collection with a skull, namely the Italian pathologist Salvatore Tommasi, the French wax model maker Guy Ainé, and the above-mentioned Theodor Bilharz (1869: 84). The inventory shows that Dr. Bernard also sent a Georgian skull from Istanbul to the University of Vienna as a gift (72).

75 Şevket Aziz Kansu (1903-83), a pioneer of physical anthropology who defended the racial superiority of Turks, also saw Weisbach’s work in 1873 as a milestone that marked the beginning of anthropological research in Turkey (Kansu 1976: 365).

76 In an article on a skull from Syria, British anatomist Duckworth names the anatomists and anthropologists who worked on “Turkish skulls” (1899: 145-151). His list includes, but is not restricted to, Dutch anatomist Gerard Sandifort (1779-1848), Swedish anatomist Anders Retzius (1796-1860), known for launching the cephalic index in 1842, and German physician and anthropologist Pruner Bey (Franz Ignaz Pruner, 1808-82), who worked for many years in Cairo.

77 For a record from the Ottoman archives that sheds light on the bureaucratic process preceding the shipment of Weisbach’s collection, packed in sixteen boxes, to the Hofmuseum in Vienna, see MF.MKT 87/150, 25 Z 1302 (5 October 1885). For more about Weisbach’s career before and after his post in Istanbul, along with a list of his publications, see Khull-Kholwald 1915.

78 For example, by 1869, the University of Vienna’s collection of human anatomy had 472 “race skulls” (raçenschädel), of which 102 were acquired through the Novara Expedition (Hyrtl 1869: 59-82). In 1879, the Museums of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in London purchased 1,800 human skulls from Joseph Barnard Davis and also received 100 Egyptian skulls from Richard Burton as a gift (Quigley 2001: 141).

79 The fate of the deceased human body and its parts raises contentious ethical questions today. One example is Dr. Gunther von Hagens’ plastinated cadavers in his Body Worlds exhibitions that toured many cities since 1995, including Istanbul (in 2010), and attracted millions of visitors. Marlin-Bennett and Wilson, for instance, liken the exhibition of plastinated cadavers to “posthumous slavery,” saying “Just as the living slaves are unable to leave their masters freely to choose new employ, neither can the persons whose bodies are on display nor their survivors ever ‘quit’ by retrieving the plastinated body and putting it to other use (cremating the remains, for instance).” (2010: 169). Also see Hallam 2016: 21-24.

80 I owe this insight to the works of Igor Kopytoff (2013 [1986]) and Samuel J. M. M. Alberti (2005 and 2011). Following the object biography approach of Kopytoff, Alberti uses the word “afterlife” to refer, in the broadest sense, to the “career” or “biographies” of natural and artificial objects and things in museums.

81 This preservation technique was discovered in the 1660s, but only became ubiquitous in the nineteenth century when glass containers and preservatives got cheaper and more available (Lawrence 1998: 126). From the 1890s onwards, formaldehyde (formalin, an organic compound occurring in nature) replaced spirit as a fixative as it was less expensive and more effective at maintaining the durability, color, and shape of specimens (Musial et al. 2016: 32-34).

82 Saint-Hilaire defined “monstrosity” as one category of anomaly. Accordingly, monstrosities were “very complex anomalies, very serious, making the performance of one or more functions impossible or difficult, or producing in the individuals so affected a defect in structure very different from that ordinarily found in their species; for example, ectromelia [congenital absence or imperfection of limbs] or cyclopia.” (Canguilhem 1991 [1966]: 134).

83 Ceride-i Havadis does not mention Nevin Kerr by name. Kerr stayed in this post from 1843 to 1849 (Merrillees 2016: 359).

84 For the traveling menageries and animal exhibitions that became popular in the Victorian period, see Neil 2008: 60-75.

85 In 1848, for instance, when a pair of conjoined twins sharing a head died after birth in a village in Pirsepe (Persepia, in Monastir), the parents informed the local authorities only after the burial. The corpses were exhumed for close inspection by two people commissioned by the district council, which then sent its report to Istanbul, describing the “odd infant” (veled-i acâib). See A.MKT 134/49, 13 B 1264 (15 June 1848).

86 Without dismissing debates over the exploitation of individuals with physical deformities at freak shows, Durbach underlines the agency of such individuals, stating that many of them “[…] chose to perform as freaks –rather than seek out other forms of financial support or submit to institutionalization.” (2010: 11-14, quotation at 14). During my archival research, I came across only one case where a certain Hazar of Aleppo requested permission from the Istanbul Municipality to display his son with lower extremity impairment and an abnormally large head to the public for money, but his request was denied. See DH.MKT 1844/91, 20 Za 1308 (27 June 1891).

87 In his travel book The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain sarcastically recounts the spectacle of beggars he came across on the bridges of the Golden Horn and in Pera: a “three-legged woman,” a “man with his eye in his cheek,” a “man with his fingers on his elbow,” and a “dwarf with seven fingers on each hand, no upper lip, and his under-jaw gone.” (1869: 361-62).

88 Fedor Jeftichew (1868-1904), a Russian sideshow performer known as “Jo-Jo the dog-faced boy” or “l’homme chien” due to his medical condition called congenital hypertrichosis, is one exception. Having been displayed at the International Exposition of Athens in 1903, Jeftichew came to Thessaloniki, an Ottoman city at the time. According to a news article from an Ottoman journal, he had been displayed to the public there where he died in January 1904 of lung and kidney failure (Malumat 1904: 496). Also see Levy 1904: 1.

89 İ.MVL 136/3724, 19 R 1265 (14 March 1849).

90 The name of Yanni’s wife is not stated in the related documents. According to Ismail Adil’s letter, it was she who approached the local government to raise this request. However, later communications about the babies only refer to Yanni as the requesting party. Here, I preferred to highlight the agency of the twins’ mother.

91 İ.MVL 136/3724, 19 R 1265 (14 March 1849); A.AMD 7/12, 20 R 1265 (15 March 1849); A.MKT 183/17, 26 R 1265 (21 March 1849); C.MF 20/987, 2 Ca 1265 (26 March 1849). In contrast to the rich content of these documents, the coverage of the case in the Takvim-i Vekâyi is limited to the description of the conjoined twins’ peculiarities (1849: 4).

92 See respectively A.AMD 40/76, 1268 (1851); İ.DH 340/22384, 9 B 1272 (16 March 1856) and A.MKT.MHM 355/3, 20 Z 1282 (6 May 1866); A.MKT.MHM 408/18, 28 M 1285 (21 May 1868).

93 İ.DH 340/22384, 9 B 1272 (16 March 1856).

94 See https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/anencephaly/ [Accessed in December 2021]. Caracache signed his report as “Ancien moniteur de la clinique d’accouchements et de gynécologie de la Faculté de Paris.” (1895: 230). For the address of his clinic, see the Annuaire Oriental (Ancien Indicateur Oriental) du commerce de l’industrie, de l’administration et de la magistrature 1895: 575.

95 The report also appeared in the French supplement of the Malumat (1895b).

96 Until the end of November 1896, Caracache participated in the regular meetings of the Société Impériale de Médecine. From 1897 on, however, his name no longer appears in the Société’s publication, the Gazette Médicale d’Orient, and the Annuaire Oriental. This suggests that he must have left Istanbul sometime in 1897. When he presented his report at the Société obstétricale de France in 1899, he had been resident in Paris. Caracache died in Nice in 1918. See the necrological announcement in Paris Médical 1918: 127.

97 Nicolas Andrioméno (1850-1929) was a famous Greek Ottoman photographer with a studio in Pera (Istanbul) at the time this photograph was taken. In the 1890s, he also took a series of photographs of female patients who had surgical operations at the Haseki Women’s Hospital. See Gürsel 2018: 36-67.

98 For another photograph showing a pair of conjoined twins born to a Greek family in Ayvalık, a town on the northwestern Aegean coast of Turkey, see Malumat 1900: 654. Here I should note that the printed material I have examined for this study does not include the journals, newspapers, and medical books published in Armenian, Greek, Bulgarian, or other languages spoken and written in the Ottoman Empire. The medical content produced in these languages is still waiting for the attention of scholars.

99 Dr. İbrahim (Yusuf) Şevki, a Mekteb-i Tıbbiye graduate, studied forensic medicine and neurology at the University of Paris for three years under Tardieu’s tutelage. When he returned to Istanbul in 1876, he worked at the Toptaşı Asylum, taught forensic medicine at his alma mater, and translated medical books and articles from French into Ottoman Turkish, including Tardieu’s l’identité and Étude médico-légale sur les attentats aux moeurs (1857), which is why he was dubbed “Tardieu” among his colleagues. Of importance to note is that Hüviyet is the very first translation of l’identité and hence Herculine Barbin’s “Mes Souvenirs” into another language (Aykut 2019a).

100 For instance, in his famous anatomical textbook Lehrbuch der Anatomie des Menschen (1846), Josef Hyrtl emphasizes this point stating that the knowledge of the self –“humankind’s most noble quest”- could be gained by studying anatomy (Hyrtl 1846: 38 quoted in George 2018: 560). Also see Sappol 2002: 249-52.

101 Besim Ömer adopts some parts of Figuier’s preface almost exactly without attribution. For instance, similar to Figuier, he regards self-knowledge as a path that would lead one to the knowledge of God and concludes his preface by quoting a hadith: “Man ‘arafa nafsahu fa-qad ‘arafa rabbahu” (He who knows himself knows God). On the other hand, Figuier illustrates this point by referring to several figures from Fénelon and Descartes to Bossuet. He also cites this sentence without attribution: “Un peu de science éloigne de Dieu, beaucoup de science y ramène.” Compare Besim Ömer 1891: 4-10 and Figuier 1879: 1-13, particularly pp. 6-7, 11-12. I would like to thank Samuel Dolbee for his help in the translation of the hadith from Arabic into English.

102 The Atatürk Library has both editions of Mir‘ât-ı Vücûd-ı Beşer. However, no copies of Mükemmel Mir‘ât-ı Vücûd-ı Nisâ and Mükemmel Mir‘ât-ı Vücûd-ı Feres were found in online library catalogues. For the images of the former, see the sale catalogue of Antiquariat Daša Pahor at https://pahor.de/product-category/books/science/page/2/ and of Bitmezat at https://www.bitmezat.com/urun/2067088/tip-tarihi-osmanlica-mukemmel-mirat-i-vucud-u-nisa-1329-arsak-garuyan-matbaa. [Accessed in March 2022]

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List of illustrations

Caption Fig. 1. The Museum of the Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Şahane in Haydarpaşa (Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Şahane Müzehanesi. Haydarpaşa’da inşa olunan Askerî Tıbbiye), between 1880-1893.33 Auzoux’s life-sized male anatomical model is on the left side of the image. Photographer: Ali Sami.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ejts/docannexe/image/7414/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 470k
Caption Fig. 2. The Ottoman Military Academy’s Museum for Scientific Instruments (Mekteb-i Tıbbiye-i Harbiye Âlât-ı Fenniye Salonu), between 1880-1893. Auzoux’s horse model is on the right background. Photographer: Abdullah Frères.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ejts/docannexe/image/7414/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 556k
Caption Fig. 3. Dr. Josef Hyrtl, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Vienna, 1850. Lithograph by Eduard Kaiser.
Credits (Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine HMD Collection [Portrait no. 7687 portrait map], accessible at http://resource.nlm.nih.gov/​101407648)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ejts/docannexe/image/7414/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 451k
Caption Fig. 4. The illustration of the conjoined twins born in Omodos, Cyprus.
Credits (Courtesy of the Presidential State Archives-Ottoman Archives in Istanbul, İ.MVL 136/3724, 19 Rebiülahir 1265 [14 March 1849]).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ejts/docannexe/image/7414/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 213k
Caption Fig. 5. Un fœtus monstrueux; An infant oddity of creation (Garâib-i hilkatten bir çocuk). From Malumat 27, 10 Receb 1313 (26 December 1895), p. 602. Photographer: [Nicolas] Andrioméno.97
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ejts/docannexe/image/7414/img-5.png
File image/png, 1.3M
Caption Fig. 6. Chromolithograph anatomical flap-up illustrations with 114 details in Ottoman Turkish and French. From Mir‘at-ı Vücûd-ı Beşer, İstanbul, Arşak Garoyan Matbaası, 1326 (1910). Publisher: Arakel Biberciyan (Biberdjian).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ejts/docannexe/image/7414/img-6.png
File image/png, 114k
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References

Electronic reference

Ebru Aykut, « Anatomical Things at the Juncture of Commerce and Science in the Late Ottoman Empire », European Journal of Turkish Studies [Online], 32 | 2021, Online since 11 July 2022, connection on 15 August 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ejts/7414 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/ejts.7414

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About the author

Ebru Aykut

Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Sociology Department
ebru.aykut@msgsu.edu.tr

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