Specimen Historiae (1701)

Caspar Bartholin (the Younger) (1655-1738)


Specimen Historiae (1701)


Specimen Historiae (1701)


Bartholin, Caspar (the Younger) (1655-1738)

Caspar Bartholin the Younger, born in 1655 in Denmark, came from a family of scientists. His grandfather, Caspar Bartholin the Elder (1585–1629), was a physician, scientist, and theologian. His father, Thomas Bartholin, was a physician, mathematician, and theologian. Bartholin the Younger is best known for describing the vaginal vestibular glands, also named Bartholin’s glands. These glands facilitate the lubrication of the vagina. Credit for this discovery often is erroneously attributed to his grandfather.

Caspar Bartholin started his medical studies at sixteen in the Netherlands, followed by France and Italy. In 1677 upon his return to Denmark, he became a natural philosophy lecturer at the University of Copenhagen. The following year, after earning his medical degree, he became a full professor and rector of the university from 1687 to 1688. Bartholin published 28 books during his lifetime.

In the current volume, Specimen Historiae Anatomicae Partium Corporis Humani ad Recentirum Mentem Accommodata (Specimen of Anatomical History Parts of The Human Body

Adapted to the Modern Mind), published in 1701, Bartholin offers an introduction to anatomy and divisions of the human body. It covers various organs and tissues, including those facilitating the five senses, glands, blood circulation, sexual reproduction, fertilization, and fetus.

The author credits those who came before him, such as Galen and Avicenna, who also observed some anatomical structures, such as salivatory glands. Still, he points out that “very obscure traits” like the ducts were left behind. His description of the sublingual salivary gland ducts bears his name today.

Based on research done by Parsa Hamidnia, class of 2026, as part of his assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2022-2023. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.

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