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Scott Med J. 2013 Nov;58(4):246-50. doi: 10.1177/0036933013507839.

Edinburgh, the Scottish pioneers of anatomy and their lasting influence in South Africa.

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  • 1School of Basic Medical Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.


The history of the origin of anatomy education in South Africa is the history of an arduous journey through time. The lasting influence of Edinburgh came in the form of Robert Black Thomson. He was a student and assistant of Sir William Turner who gave rise to the first chair of anatomy and the establishment of a department at the South African College, known today as University of Cape Town. Thomson was later succeeded by Matthew Drennan, a keen anthropologist, who was revered by his students. This Scottish link prevailed over time with the appointment of Edward Philip Stibbe as the chair of anatomy at the South African School of Mines and Technology, which later became the University of the Witwatersrand. Stibbe's successor, Raymond Arthur Dart, a graduate of the University of Sydney, was trained in an anatomy department sculpted on that of Edinburgh by Professor James Thomas Wilson. Wilson's influence at the University of Sydney can be traced back to Edinburgh and William Turner through Thomas Anderson Stuart. Both Dart and Robert Broom, another Scot, were considered as Africa's wild men by the late Professor Tobias. Here, the authors explore the Scottish link and origins of anatomy pedagogy in South Africa.


History; Scottish; South Africa; anatomy pedagogy; influence

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