In the eyes of most people anatomy and cadavers are inseparable. Talk to practising doctors about their experiences as medical students in anatomy, and their thoughts will drift instinctively to the dissecting room and the dead bodies, the cadavers, they encountered there. One of the most vivid accounts of a first acquaintance with a dissecting room is provided by the composer Hector Berlioz. In his Memoirs (1969, 46), he writes:

It is not clear how accurate was this description of the dissecting room Berlioz encountered in the Paris of 1822. Regardless of the excessive repulsive feelings that may have coloured his account, and of the rebellion against his father that was so much a part of his unhappy encounter with the world of medicine, it is a highly evocative picture that lingers in the memory. This is not all there is to know about anatomy, but it is a facet of the anatomist’s world that cannot be entirely dismissed.