Michelangelo Hid Anatomy Lesson in the Sistine Chapel: Human Brainstem Is Depicted in Image of God

(Click on images to enlarge.)

Hmmmh. I know for 11 years that Michelangelo’s fresco of God  is a detailed anatomic depiction of the brain.

“… Michelangelo, a deeply religious man …”

Oh, really???

Adam has a navel, so he must be born of a women!

The catholic church would have called that nothing less than heresy!

Detailed analysis of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes reveals a secret that’s been hidden for 500 years: an image of the human brainstem in a panel showing God at the beginning of Creation, according to an article in the May issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

July 19, 2010 – Detailed analysis of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes reveals a secret that’s been hidden for 500 years: an image of the human brainstem in a panel showing God at the beginning of Creation, according to an article in the May issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading provider of information and business intelligence for students, professionals, and institutions in medicine, nursing, allied health, and pharmacy.

“We propose that Michelangelo, a deeply religious man and an accomplished anatomist, intended to enhance the meaning of this iconographically critical panel and possibly document his anatomic accomplishments by concealing this sophisticated neuroanatomic rendering within the image of God,” write medical illustrator Ian Suk, BSc, BMC, and neurosurgeon Rafael Tamargo, MD, of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Image of Brainstem Concealed in Panel Showing Separation of Light from Darkness:

The “concealed neuroanatomy” is found in Michelangelo’s painting of the Separation of Light from Darkness, one of a series of nine Sistine Chapel panels showing scenes from the Book of Genesis. According to Suk and Tamargo, “anatomically correct ventral [front] depiction” of the brainstem can be seen in God’s neck.

The authors present several lines of evidence to support their contention. History shows that Michelangelo was an avid student of anatomy, who performed cadaver dissections throughout his life. “We speculate that during his numerous dissections, Michelangelo possibly dissected the brain and spinal cord and that over the years he probably acquired a sophisticated understanding of gross neuroanatomy,” Suk and Tamargo write.

They buttress their argument by showing that the anatomy of God’s neck is inaccurate. That discrepancy has been noticed before, with one previous critic suggesting that Michelangelo had painted God with a goiter (enlarged thyroid). Suk and Tamargo also show that the light source illuminating God’s neck differs from that of the rest of the painting. For an artist of Michelangelo’s anatomical and technical prowess, it’s unlikely that these discrepancies were simple mistakes, Suk and Tamargo believe. They also note that God’s beard appears “rolled up,” as if to draw attention to the neck, whereas other panels show God with a long, flowing beard.

Suk and Tamargo aren’t the first to suggest that Michelangelo included images of the brain in his Sistine Chapel frescoes. A previous researcher found an outline of the brain embedded in the famous panel depicting the Creation of Adam.

“We speculate that having used the brain motif successfully in the Creation of Adam almost a year earlier, Michelangelo wanted to once again associate the figure of God with a brain in the iconographically critical Separation of Light From Darkness,” Suk and Tamargo write. They note the powerful symbolism of incorporating the human brain into a depiction of “the first act performed by God in the creation of the universe… situated immediately above the altar in the chapel.”

The authors acknowledge “the perils of overinterpreting a masterpiece” — and that not all art historians and other viewers will agree with their conclusions. However, they believe that a close analysis of the image, supported by the historical record, backs their interpretation: that Michelangelo “cleverly enhanced his depiction of God…with concealed images of the brain, and in this way celebrated not only the glory of God but also that of His most magnificent creation.”

Published on Jul 20, 2010 – 8:13:52 AM

Source: YubaNet

21 thoughts on “Michelangelo Hid Anatomy Lesson in the Sistine Chapel: Human Brainstem Is Depicted in Image of God”

  1. I think Michelangelo is saying that God is just like “me” a man, created by man’s mind, a creation of human mind!

  2. But the mind is creating man, not the reverse. Michelangelo, who had a deep belief in God, seems to be invoking the concept of the Mind of God that is creating Adam. Notice that God has Eve “in mind” for Adam as God gives the spark of soul/mind/intellect to Adam. To reduce this rich metaphor to a simple statement that man creates God is to radically refuse what the image is saying. In God you have mind, forethought, and power. In Adam you have languid receptivity. The whole scene is charged with the interaction of self with other–including the sexual tension of Adam and Eve. Clearly, we are Adam in a receptive posture to the creative God.

  3. And the navel does not require heresy. Michelangelo often made anatomical decisions that reflect human anatomy over history or theological principles…e.g. the fact that the Old Testament figures, including David, are depicted as uncircumcised. It is more likely that Michelangelo was giving preference to the beauty of the human form over the intricacies of theological debate (in the case of the navel, which is only debated never concluded) or historical accounts (in the case of the circumcision which no one doubts).

  4. Umm, you’ve known for 11 years, or since the age of 11? Perhaps you should have told the Ph.D’s at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons of your unprecedented discovery especially since it took very intelligent men to see it. You’re in the wrong business apparently ;op

  5. For those who say “God is the product of the mind”, maybe you are the product of God, a real living personal being’s mind? What about the Internet and computer programs? Are we just a product of their output? Their processor? The fact that man refuses to no longer think outside the universe in the more “physical” spiritual realm where things are more real and eternal, are the ones at loss. God existing means nothing but goodness for you and that all is taken care of. Even though we are in a lesson of suffering and what rebellion brings now, the fact that there is a Creator of our body and soul is a good thing, just as it is a good thing that the Internet, computers and software have creators…does it do software one bit of harm to have someone that they have to respond to? No, it gives them purpose….see your purpose in a God who can be known.

  6. Rich:

    Produce evidence of such a claim or expect mockery and ridicule, because the facts demonstrate otherwise.

    Au contraire. What intelligent creator god would give its creations such a wonky curvature of the spine that would leave it so prone to problems later in life? What intelligent creator would give its creations such a mess of sinus that even the worst plumber in the world would be ashamed of? What intelligent creator would leave such vital organs as testicles exposed?

    If there is a creator, then it is woefully inept or perhaps even malicious.

  7. Rich –

    Contrary to your statement, the mind does not work like software over a processor. It’s pretty simple science or dare I say common knowledge that when certain parts of the brain are damaged it has predicable impact on personality or memory or anything that you could think related to the “soul” that many believe will be lifted from their dying bodies. If one sustains a head injury and from that point on has trouble remembering the names of family members, will they have memory problems when they get to heaven? Is it the soul that is injured as well as the brain? Or is it more likely that these things are attached in a very real, very physical sense, and that thing that we have no evidence for will not be lifted to that place that we have no evidence for.

  8. Reedy, consider this: In western culture, the convention is left-to-right. We read left to right. Math problems are computed left to right. Cause is on the left, Result on the right.

    Man is on the left. On the right, in man’s mind, are god and angels.
    In man’s mind.

    Were Michelangelo trying to say that God created Man, the order would very likely have been reversed: God on the left accompanied by angels, imagining Man in his mind (on the right).

    Given how many different deities have been created in the minds of men across the aeons, it is quite clear what Michelangelo was conveying.

  9. @coyote

    Although I don’t necessarily buy the argument that Michelangelo took western left-to-right conventions into account when deciding where to place his creation figures, I’d like to point out that from God’s point of view the direction of the Sistine Creation does indeed flow from left to right: STAGE left to STAGE right. Perhaps you should regard the panel from the viewpoint of the actors, not the audience.

  10. Smart guys not seeing forest for the trees here. God is shown with his right arm embracing a female in the RIGHT hemisphere of brain. Gay men have more activity in their right half than hetero mles and females have more than gays. Emotions and intuition (+ musical, artistic, spatial tasks) predominate in right side of brain that due to chiasma mostly controls the left (in Latin ‘sinister’ female side of body). We are realizing EQ trumps IQ, that how much you care not how much you know is most relevant.
    Cathars believed that an illiterate kind-hearted peasant women could access god easier than any book-learned male. Catholic popes and priests tortured, burned and wiped out the music loving Cathars. Mary Magdalene brought Cathar lore to France, Christ’s real message, not the perverted misogyny of todays Christianity. Many Cathar leaders were women and wealthy business people.
    Meekness, poverty, humility is for slaves not gods.
    Michelangelo, as did the gay DaVinci before him, depicts here that a feminine paradigm shift (and opening of the left eye of Horus) is the path from manly to divine. The breast of Shiva and Akhenaten identifies them as male masters of the female energy.

  11. Mr. MindOverMakeBelieve, that’s a very poor argument to the non existence of the soul. It’s like saying, if you loose your legs while living, you will be crippled in the afterlife. Seriously ?

  12. Something else I like to point out here, Adam is sitting comfortably in the breast of a woman. If you look directly over his head you will see a picture of a nipple and breast and little below that some ribs. The angels that everyone is commenting about, I don’t think they are angels but Sin itself. It appears naked women (son) is pulling God away from Adam.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.