Friday, June 17, 2005

Michelangelo's "anatomy code"

CNN.com : "Completed nearly 500 years ago, the brightly colored frescoes painted on the Vatican's famous sanctuary are considered some of the world's greatest works of art. They depict Biblical scenes such as the 'Creation of Adam' in which God reaches out to touch Adam's finger.

But Gilson Barreto and Marcelo de Oliveira believe Michelangelo also scattered his detailed knowledge of internal anatomy across 34 of the ceiling's 38 panels. The way they see it, a tree trunk is not just a tree trunk, but also a bronchial tube. And a green bag in one scene is really a human heart.

Barreto and his friend Oliveira are not the first physicians to see depictions of human organs in the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican church where popes are elected.

Fifteen years ago, U.S. doctor Frank Meshberger pointed out the figure of God and his surrounding angels in the "Creation of Adam" panel resembled a cross-section of the human brain.

He believes Michelangelo was equating God's gift of a soul for Adam with the divine gift of intelligence for mankind.

Packing up his desk as he prepared to move houses, Barreto came across Meshberger's theory.

"I said to myself, 'If there's a brain, he surely didn't just paint a brain. There have to be others,"' Barreto said."