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Embalming syringe set, London, England, 1790-1820

The embalming set consists of two brass syringes and accompanying accessories. It sits in a purple velvet lined wooden box. It was made between 1790 and 1820 by London-based surgical instrument makers, Laundy. Embalming syringes preserved the body by injecting chemicals such as arsenic or zinc chloride, normally via the arteries. This delayed inevitable decomposition of the body rather than halting it. At this time, embalming preserved cadavers (bodies) for anatomical teaching. Today, embalming in some religious traditions preserves the body so it remains presentable during the funeral service.

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Glossary: anatomy

A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.

Glossary: embalming

The application of chemical preservatives to slow the natural decomposition of a corpse. Modern methods were greatly refined in the 1800s. Although they have been widely used in Europe, the custom remains most commonly used in North America. Formaldehyde is the primary embalming fluid used today. It is a preservative injected into the blood system to replace the blood which is drained out. Embalming fluid can also be pumped into the body cavities as well.

Glossary: embalming syringe set

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