The ATLOMY Project

Anatomy in Ancient Greece and Rome: An Interactive Visual and Textual Atlas

Principal Investigator: Dr. Orly Lewis

ERC Starting-Grant (Horizon 2020)

ATLOMY is a groundbreaking multidisciplinary study of the history of anatomical ideas and research. It implements a novel and innovative model for studying ancient science and medicine, one which combines historical and philological analysis with empirical research and high-end digital and visual design and development.

Official ERC Abstract

ATLOMY sets out to break through the textual boundary of ancient anatomical writings and produce a groundbreaking integrative atlas of Greco-Roman anatomical ideas, terminology, and research. Its historical scope will stretch from the Classical period to the High-Roman Empire – from our earliest extant Greek medical works to the pinnacle of Greco-Roman medical and anatomical research. It will focus on the authors whose works and ideas had the most long-lasting formative role in the history of anatomy and biology: key medical writers of the fifth to the third centuries BCE (e.g. Hippocratic authors and the Alexandrian Anatomists); Aristotle (fourth century BCE); and Galen of Pergamum (second century CE). Based on rigorous philological and historical analyses of the sources, ATLOMY’s team of classicists, historians, modern anatomists, digital artist, and software developer, will create a long-desired lexicon of ancient anatomical terms, re-enact ancient anatomical dissections, and develop a high-end, digital visual atlas presenting three-dimensional reconstructions of the body as perceived by the different authors. Based on the novel results of these analytical, empirical, and digital clusters of research, we shall compose in-depth interpretive studies of anatomical theories and research in ancient Greece and Rome. This integrative visual and textual map and analysis will substantially advance our understanding of ancient ideas of the body and of empirical methods of scientific research in ancient times. Moreover, it will enable the growing audience of Greco-Roman medical and philosophical writings to engage with these sources in a deeper and more informed manner, thus enhancing studies in related fields. More broadly, ATLOMY will offer a tight-knit interdisciplinary heuristic model for the study of the history of science, one which offers means for bridging the disciplinary gap between historians and classicists and the natural scientists whose works we study.


Funding for ATLOMY is granted by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (GA 852550).