From truth to “dark legend”
The two Anatomical Machines are among the most enigmatic exhibits in the monumental complex. Even today, over two hundred and fifty years later, the debate continues on the procedures and materials used to obtain such excellent preservation of the circulatory apparatus. Nourishing the “dark legend” of Raimondo di Sangro, the Breve nota referred to “injection”, suggesting that, under the Prince’s direction, Salerno had injected a substance into the blood vessels of two bodies in order to cause their “metalisation”.
Benedetto Croce too recounts that, according to popular belief, Raimondo di Sangro “had two of his servants killed, a man and a woman, and had the bodies strangely embalmed so that they showed all the viscera, the arteries and the veins”. In reality, the circulatory system is the result of a reconstruction carried out using different materials including beeswax and colourants. What is surprising, however, is the reproduction of the arteriovenous system down to even the finest vessels, showing such incredibly advanced anatomical knowledge for the time, that a research group have recently suggested that experiments with injections had been performed prior to reconstruction.