The sciatic nerve was first known as the femoral nerve (neruus femoris)

Evidence of ancient knowledge of human neuroanatomy and peripheral nerve injury


  • Matthew Zdilla West Virginia University



anatomy; history of medicine; neurology; sciatica; peripheral nerve injury


The etymology of anatomical terminology provides insight into the history of anatomy, medicine, and scientific understanding. Therefore, this study assessed the anatomical language of the 7th century Codex Amiatinus, the earliest surviving and most reliable copy of Saint Jerome’s original 4th century Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, for details regarding the injury of Jacob as described in the Book of Genesis 32:22-32. The Codex Amiatinus notes that Jacob sustained an injury to the “neruus femoris.” Additional context, given by Jewish dietary practice, suggests the neruus femoris most likely refers to the modern-day sciatic nerve (nervus ischiadicus). However, conceivably, neruus femoris may refer to any motor nerve in the vicinity of the thigh including either the femoral nerve, tibial nerve, common fibular nerve, or obturator nerve. By utilizing the term neruus femoris, “nerve of the thigh,” the Codex Amiatinus provides evidence of ancient knowledge of human neuroanatomy and ancient understanding of the sequelae that result from peripheral nerve injury.


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How to Cite

Zdilla, M. (2023). The sciatic nerve was first known as the femoral nerve (neruus femoris): Evidence of ancient knowledge of human neuroanatomy and peripheral nerve injury. Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science, 95(1).