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SubjectMedical Terminology Daily Newsletter #133
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This newsletter is dedicated to the quest to find the lost grave of Andreas Vesalius.

This is another stage of the quest to discover the place where this famous anatomist's body is buried in the island of Zakynthos, Greece. The general location of the cemetery has been determined and now a more detailed ground-radar system will be used to more accurately point to its location. This is a privately funded research and a GoFundMe page has been created. To date we have raised close to 45% of our goal. Your collaboration is greatly appreciated no matter what the amount with which you can help. If you know someone who you think may collaborate in this quest, please forward this newsletter.

For more information, read the following articles.


Dr. Miranda

GoFundMe Campaign for the next stage of the project

The Quest for the Lost Grave of Andreas Vesalius - Advancing the Project

GoFundMe Campaign for the next stage of the project

A group of researchers and investigators are looking to the incredible possibility of finding the grave of Andreas Vesalius. Initially this led to the 2014 meeting "Vesalius Continuum" in the island of Zakynthos, Greece. At that time Dr. Sylviene Déderix, Pascale Pollier, and Theo Dirix presented the status of the research that led to identification of the location of the church where Vesalius was buried. This was the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie which would have been located in the northern sector of the modern town, around the current junction of Kolokotroni and Kolyva streets.

More on this original stage on the project was published on the following article: In Search of Andreas Vesalius, The Quest for the Lost Grave - The Sequel. Supporters for this research include world-renown scholars such as Prof. Omer Steeno and Dr. Maurits Biersbrouck, which appear in the video

The next stage in this quest is to perform a detailed analysis of the grounds around the church using Electrical Resistive Tomography (ERT) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) as well as other non-invasive ground-sensing modalities. This kind of research is not cheap and requires funding.

Pascale and the research team have set a GoFundMe campaign to raise €9,900, roughly US$10,800, and I am asking all of the Vesalius followers and anatomy enthusiasts to contribute as little or as much as you can to make this next stage of the project a reality. You can reach the GoFundMe page here.

The video in this article is by courtesy of


Open letter to the reluctant scientist and the Vesalius groupie

The following is an article published by Theo Dirix in his blog. He is one of the Vesalius Continuum project members and a contributor to this website. Theo Dirixis an author and a taphophile. He has successively held the office of Consul in Embassies of Belgium in Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and, since 2011, Greece. His current posting is in Kopenhagen, Denmark  Before 1989, he worked for the Flemish Radio 3 and commented on (mainly Moroccan) literature. He is constantly writing travel stories of his visits to cemeteries and graves. He is also the author of the book "In Search of Andreas Vesalius: The Quest for the Lost Grave".

“Andreas Vesalius is a rock star in well defined circles”, a friend wrote to me in an e-mail and: ”I hate disappointing people".  That is to say with the results of the upcoming crucial phase in the search for his lost grave in Zakynthos, Greece. I guess she considers all 800 friends of my Vesalius Continuum Page as members of those "well defined circles". Let me assure her, and all of you, Vesalius groupies, that nobody will be disappointed.

Potential sponsors definitely won’t. They just have to ask Agfa HealthCare Greece, that has financed the Geographical Information System of the first phase. With the amount paid, a company cannot even buy a single add in a newspaper; Agfa got dozens of adds instead, during our talks, in publications and in this paragraph.​

Neither will Vesalius groupies, even after a generous contribution to the crowd funding campaign. Beyond the pleasure of discovering a geophysical prospection, they can bid on the miniature facial reconstruction we will present here soon. Or on paintings of skulls, cells and blood; one of my mentors is already labeling his acrylic studies we will auction soon.

And finally, no scientist will. Of course, there are some who will grin if we find ... nothing, but they seem to forget that a non-discovery can be as important as a find. Many more, however, continue to encourage us. They know funerary slabs have already been found under the corner house of Kolyva/Kolokotroni in the city center, where we concentrate our search. I’ll never forget the reaction of an archaeologist when I showed her the pictures of those artefacts in Pavlos Plessas’s blog.



From I quote:

"How many excavations would you say have taken place at this site, which could, and should, have been the focus of a universal cultural pilgrimage? As far as I know none! Unless of course the dynamites and the bulldozers that after the catastrophic earth-quakes of 1953 demolished any wall left standing and pushed it into the sea can be thought of as an archaeological dig." ​

Back to our plans: a team of four or five researchers will walk through that part of the town with a Ground Penetrating Radar device. They will drill small holes (of about one cm in diameter and twenty cm in depth) in the asphalt roads, pavements and surroundings to enter electrodes and carry out the Electrical Resistivity Tomography. To get permits for making the holes, have plans of any utility networks and carry out the fieldwork, this geophysical prospection will take five days maximum. After processing the survey, the research center IMS/FORTH, Rethymnon, will come up with a map of underground architectural remains.

How exiting is that? I'm looking forward to receiving your comments. Are you ready to register, to pledge your support ?

Personal note: Click on the following link to collaborate with this incredible quest. I already did. Dr. Miranda

GoFundMe Campaign for the next stage of the project


In Search of Andreas Vesalius, The Quest for the Lost Grave - The Sequel

Article by Dr. Sylviane Déderix, Pascale Pollier, and Theo Dirix

From 4 until 8 September 2014, more than two hundred artists and scientists from more than 40 countries gathered on the Greek Island of Zakynthos to commemorate the quincentenary of the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius who died on the island 450 years earlier. At this very moment when some start dreaming of a sequel of our Vesalius Continuum Conference, we continue to dream of the sequel of our search for his lost grave. The triennial of 2017 will be an ideal occasion to present a second phase in our search, on condition that the plan we are developing here succeeds.

The initial phase of the search for the Vesalius’s grave, started and presented in 2014, was based on recent re-examinations of historical sources that contest the traditional view that Vesalius was buried at Laganas. Research by the Flemish historians Omer Steeno, Maurits Biesbrouck, Theodoor Goddeeris and the local historical blogger Pavlos Plessas indeed suggest that the quest for his grave should rather focus on the town of Zakynthos, and more specifically on the courtyard of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Unfortunately, the small church was destroyed along with most of the buildings in Zakynthos during the major earthquake that struck the Ionian Islands in 1953. Its ruins were then buried when the town was reconstructed, and its exact location was soon forgotten. Material evidence, local informants and cartographic data nevertheless point in the same direction: the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie would have been located in the northern sector of the modern town, around the current junction of Kolokotroni and Kolyva streets.

In order to assess the validity of this hypothesis, we called on the services of Geographic Information Systems (abbreviated GIS). GIS are computer-based tools used for the management, analysis, and display of geographically referenced information. Within the framework of the quest for Vesalius’ lost grave, they were used to overlay historical maps on modern cartographic data. The procedure, which is named geo-referencing, allows registering individual maps in a common geographic space so as to define their position in the real world. In the present case, the goal was to geo-reference a town map dated to 1892 and on which the church can be identified. See the accompanying photograph of the church.

Dr. Sylviane Déderix
Pascale Pollier
Theo Dirix

However, since the coastline and the town plan drastically changed after the earthquake, it was not possible to overlay the particular map directly onto modern satellite images: intermediary steps were necessary. The methodology consisted therefore in travelling back in time and geo-referencing three available maps from the most recent to the oldest. The result of the process confirmed that the ruins of the Santa Maria delle Grazie are to be found to the northwest of the intersection of the current Kolyva and Kolokotroni streets. The road that ran in front of the church in the late 19th and early 20th century followed a different orientation than Kolyva street, with the consequence that the church lies partly below the street and partly below private properties.

This small GIS project represents only a first phase in the quest for Vesalius’ grave. Phase 2 would be to conduct a geophysical prospection at the Kolyva/Kolokotroni intersection. By making use of non-destructive geophysical methods, we could get an idea of what is still lying under the modern surface, and at which depth. This would provide a fast and high resolution understanding of the area. In an urban environment, two techniques can be used: Ground Penetrating radar and Electrical Resistivity Tomography, which measure the propagation of electromagnetic waves and of the electrical current in the ground, respectively. If the geophysical results were conclusive, the possibility of small-scale excavations (Phase 3) could be considered.

The GIS was sponsored by Agfa HealthCare, the Greek subsidiary of the Belgian Agfa Gevaert Group, the Belgian University of Antwerp, and Theo Dirix. For the consequent phases, Pascale Pollier offers to sell five original wax models of her facial reconstruction of Andreas Vesalius. This inversed reconstruction of Vesalius’s skull, based on his portrait, will have to suffice until we find his skull, allowing her to reconstruct his real face. Vesalius Continuum, initially the conference where we launched the search of Vesalius’s grave, has evolved in a programme to which you can contribute.

Personal note: My sincere thanks to Dr. Déderix, Pascale Pollier, and Theo Dirix for contributing this article to "Medical Terminology Daily" and the quest to find and study Andreas Vesalius' grave. I am proud to have been one of the many international attendees to the 2014 meeting in the island of Zakynthos. Dr. Miranda.

Original photograph of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Zakynthos, Greece
Original photograph of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Zakynthos, Greece.
Click on the image for a larger depiction

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