chapter  10
The ambiguous artifact: surgical instruments and the surgical past
ByGhislaine Lawrence
Pages 20

G. Mukhopadhyaya, in his much cited Surgical Instruments of the Hindus did just this, on the basis that 'written descriptions of surgical instruments are uninteresting and often fail to convey the true idea which could easily be made evident by the pencil'. Accounts of surgical instrumentation that do exist still exemplify a concern with discovery and priority which now characterises for many historians an outmoded form of medical history. In the early nineteenth century, perhaps for reasons of economy, the same graphics were re-used many times in different surgical texts, even though the details of the operation they represented may not have remained the same. Henry Sigerist had, in 1951, already pointed to the 'general history of technology' as the way forward for the history of surgical instrumentation, writing that it went 'without saying' that the two were closely related and must be studied in relation to each other.