The sciatic nerve was first known as the femoral nerve (neruus femoris)
Evidence of ancient knowledge of human neuroanatomy and peripheral nerve injury
Keywords: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.
Bergsteedt, B.J., Cilliers, K., and L.M. Greyling. 2021. Bifurcation of the sciatic nerve: A descriptive study on a South African cadaver cohort. Morphologie. doi: 10.1016/j.morpho.2021.05.002.
Ceolfrid. 688. Codex Amiatinus. [Wearmouth and Jarrow, England: publisher not identified, 688 to 713] Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/item/2021668243/
Dubois, J. 1555 In Hippocratis et Galeni physiologia partem anatomicam isagoge, a J. Sylvio ... conscripta,&in libros tres distributa. (n.p.), France
FIPAT. 2019. Terminologia Anatomica. 2nd ed. FIPAT.library.dal.ca. Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology
FIPAT. 2017. Terminologia Neuroanatomica. FIPAT.library.dal.ca. Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology
Hertz, J.H., editor. 1981. The pentateuch and haftorahs. 2nd ed. (Genesis 32:25-33). Pp/ 124-125. Soncino Press. London.
Hoenig, L.J., 1997. Jacob's limp. Semin. Arthritis. Rheum. 26(4): 684-688.
The Holy Bible, Translated from the Latin Vulgate: Diligently Compared with the Hebrew, Greek and Other Editions in Divers Languages: the Old Testament First Published by the English College at Douay, A.D. 1609, and the New Testament First Published by the English College at Rheims, A.D. 1582 : with Annotations, References and an Historical and Chronological Index from the Last London and Dublin Editions : the Whole Rev. and Diligently Compared with the Latin Vulgate. 1844. Edward Dunigan, United Kingdom
Kliman, E. 1983. The Figural Sources of Delacroix’s ‘Jacob Wrestling with the Angel.’ RACAR: Revue d’art Canadienne / Canadian Art Review, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 157–162.
Mundinus. 1493. Anathomia Mu[n]dini. Martin Landsberg. Germany.
Mundinus. 1507. Anathomia Mondini. Locatellus, (n.p.).
Rahimi Shorin, H., Azizbeig Mohajer, M., Parsa, A., Azhari, A., and M. Assadian. 2014. Femoral Nerve Palsy Following Delayed Reduction of a Dislocated Hip in a 44- Year-old Man. Iran Red Crescent Med. J. 16(2):e12579.
Rosenstock, E. 2014. Ringen mit dem Unsichtbaren: zur Entstehungsgeschichte einer müglichen medizinischen Deutung von Jakobs Verletzung am Jabbok. Sudhoffs Arch. 98(2): 164-181.
Sakai, T. 2007. Historical evolution of anatomical terminology from ancient to modern. Anat. Sci. Int. 82: 65-81.
Sawai, T. 2019. The emergence of modern muscle names: the contribution to the foundation of systematic terminology of Vesalius, Sylvius, and Bauhin. Anat. Sci. Int. 94: 23-38.
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science applies the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license to works we publish. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings.