When you bury family members in a cemetery, you expect them to stay there. Not so 200 years ago, however, when body snatchers prowled the nation’s burial grounds looking for subjects. This lucrative cottage industry was driven by an acute shortage of bodies that were available for dissection by the growing number of medical students.
Now, a new book has amassed, for the first time, archaeological evidence for what happened to the corpses, from dissection and autopsy through to reburial and display. Many of the new findings have never been published before.
The book reveals how the macabre activities of the body snatchers helped to further the progress of medicine and science by improving understanding of how the human body worked.