Tracing the papier mache anatomical models of Ottoman Turkish medicine and Louis Thomas Jerôme Auzoux

  • Alpen OrtugEmail author
  • Neslihan Yuzbasioglu
Teaching Anatomy


Papier-mâché means chewed paper, and it defines a method. Various decorative products and functional tools have been produced with this method, which includes various techniques and materials. Maybe, the most interesting one among these is anatomic models developed and spread around the world by the French physician Louis Thomas Jerôme Auzoux (1797–1880) at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of Dr Auzoux’ human anatomical models in Ottoman–Turkish medicine. Primary and secondary sources were analysed such as Museum collections, archives, and scientific databases accessible on the Internet. This revealed that, at the beginning of the 1820s, Dr. Auzoux developed the method for papier-mâché anatomical models after a period of suffering difficulties in finding and preserving cadavers for dissection at the medical faculty which he worked. In 1825, he completed his invention, which had significant advantages over previously used methods for anatomical models, and then founded a production workshop in St. Aubin. Many medical schools in Europe, Africa, and South America utilised these models. Sources mentioned that the Ottoman Empire also purchased various anatomical models. Although it is not exactly known how many and from which models, it is known that whole male and female body models and pregnancy developmental models were purchased in 1837. In addition to human anatomic models, Dr. Auzoux’s company also began to manufacture veterinary and botanical models soon. In that period of the Ottoman Empire during which cadaver dissection was forbidden and only artificial models and drawings were used for the education, Auzoux’s models can be considered as very important tools for the Turkish Ottoman medical education and influential on the transition from traditional to modern medicine. Today, unfortunately, the fate of most of the human anatomical models purchased in the name of the Ottoman Empire is not known.


Auzoux Anatomy models Papier-mâché Ottoman–Turkish medicine 



Preliminary data from this article were presented as a poster at the 19th National Anatomy Congress and 1st International Mediterranean Anatomy Congress, 6–9 September 2018, Konya, Turkey. Authors would like to thank Prof. Dr. Dr. Gursel Ortug for his comments and advice about the historical background that greatly improved the manuscript, Prof. Dr. Nil Sarı and Prof. Dr. Sabri Kemahlı for their courtesy of sharing materials from their studies, and Nujen Arya Sesen for French-to-English translations.

Author contributions

AO project development, data collection, and manuscript writing. NY data analysis, and manuscript writing and editing.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, School of MedicineIstanbul Medipol UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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