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The Bizarre Anatomical Machines of a Prince

I can’t say I was familiar with Raimondo di Sangro, who was a noble and Prince of the city of San Severo in Italy back in the 18th century. Considering how cool (crazy?) this guy was, I’m now officially amazed he’s not as well known as folks like Nikola Tesla. As an inventor he created a waterproof cape, a hydraulic device that could pump water to any height, an ‘eternal flame’ made from chemical compounds he created, a carriage with wooden ‘horses’ with an internal mechanical structure that could travel on land and water, colored fireworks, a printing press that could print different colors in one impression, and quite a few more things. He was also a writer, a mason and was excommunicated by the church for some of those masonic activities. But none of that is half as interesting as what ELSE he was into…

Raimondo was also an alchemist and rumors swirled of a variety of feats he had achieved in the discipline, as well as darker rumors as to how he achieved some of them. One of the things we DO know he did, although we still don’t know how he did it, was to create elaborate anatomical models. Two of them, now on display in the Museo Capella Sansevero in Naples, are of a man and a woman which detail all the blood vessels in the body in a spectacular and gruesome fashion. Apparently they were created using a process called “anatomical injection’, but we don’t know with what and to who. Rumors (once again, those pesky things) say that they are of his servant and a pregnant woman, but since Raimondo destroyed all his scientific writings before he died, we’ll never know. But there’s no denying these things are incredibly creepy and cool.

anatmny

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