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[New] Hidden Images in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel

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posted on Jul, 28 2010 @ 07:08 PM
Michelangelo continues to provide us with mystery, intrigue and discovery...

Michelangelo, the 16th century master painter and accomplished anatomist, appears to have hidden an image of the brainstem and spinal cord in a depiction of God in the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers reports. These findings by a neurosurgeon and a medical illustrator, published in the May Neurosurgery, may explain long controversial and unusual features of one of the frescoes' figures.

...scholars have long debated the meaning of some anatomical peculiarities seen on God's neck in the part of the painting known as Separation of Light From Darkness. In this image, the neck appears lumpy, and God's beard awkwardly curls upward around his jaw.

Reserchers Rafael Tamargo, M.D., a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Ian Suk, B.Sc., B.M.C., a medical illustrator and associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery believe that if their theory is correct, there is the potential for many still undiscovered, anatomical features blended into the Sistine Chapel's ceiling and that more may be found.

They note that it wouldn't be the first time and reference the 1990 paper by Frank Lynn Meshberger suggesting that "the shroud surrounding the image known as the Creation of Adam strongly resembles an anatomically correct brain." - Link - ScienceDaily

"The odd depiction of God's neck in "Separation of Light From Darkness" (A) bears a striking resemblance to a brainstem, seen in tissue from a cadaver (B) and outlined in the painting (C). (Credit: Image courtesy of Neurosurgery.)"

"It's an unusual view of the brainstem, from the bottom up. Most people wouldn't recognize it unless they had extensively studied neuroanatomy," says Suk.

Suk adds that the strategically placed brainstem might also explain another unusual feature of the painting. In this same image, God is depicted in a red robe with an odd tubular structure depicted in the chest. Although God wears the same red robe in other images in the fresco, this tubular structure is absent elsewhere. The structure has the right placement, shape, and size to be a spinal cord, say the researchers, suggesting another piece of hidden anatomy in the artwork.

ed: shorten title to allow for broader discussion

[edit on 28-7-2010 by LadySkadi]

posted on Jul, 28 2010 @ 07:30 PM
A little about Dr. Frank Lynn Meshberger and his theory regarding the Creation of Adam, as referenced above...

The Creation of Adam (1508-1512) on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel has long been recognized as one of the world's great art treasures. In 1990 Frank Lynn Meshberger, M.D. described what millions had overlooked for centuries - an anatomically accurate image of the human brain was portrayed behind God. On close examination, borders in the painting correlate with sulci in the inner and outer surface of the brain, the brain stem, the basilar artery, the pituitary gland and the optic chiasm. God's hand does not touch Adam, yet Adam is already alive as if the spark of life is being transmitted across a synaptic cleft.* Below the right arm of God is a sad angel in an area of the brain that is sometimes activated on PET scans when someone experiences a sad thought. God is superimposed over the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain and possibly the anatomical counterpart of the human soul. God's right arm extends to the prefrontal cortex, the most creative and most uniquely human region of the brain.


posted on Jul, 28 2010 @ 07:41 PM
Basically, it was Mike's way of flipping off the vatican and the church, integrating into the paintings the thought that God is our minds.

There's other places this same type of thing can be seen from other painters, sculptors, etc.

posted on Jul, 28 2010 @ 07:45 PM
reply to post by Jomina

Artists reach a larger audience and can (in many cases) get away with incorporating political statements into their art.

I just find it very cool that so many years later, we are still deciphering those embedded messages.

posted on Jul, 28 2010 @ 10:29 PM
Maybe I'm mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that research on cadavers and
otherwise post living human subjects was highly frowned upon or at least
taboo in certain times of European culture. You can rest assured that the
artist studied Human Anatomy to the utmost detail. Maybe certain discoveries
were melded into the artwork to pass on that information without the stigma
and regulations of the times. Then again maybe the artist found the perfect
location of the human mind (at least symbolically) to the artists concept of God.

Clearly an interesting beard regardless....

posted on Jul, 29 2010 @ 01:11 PM
reply to post by Wildmanimal

Interesting perspective. I would not be surprised if it were true, to some degree. Though it is said that Michelangelo had performed autopsies and did study anatomy in detail, it is not unthinkable that he had to find creative ways to pass on what he learned. He was facing quite the battle reconciling science and religion.

posted on Jul, 29 2010 @ 02:50 PM
reply to post by LadySkadi
Michelangelo would certainly be well-versed in anatomy. It was customary to study cadavers to add more insight into the human form than life-models could provide. If you think about it, life for an artist could be pretty gruesome back then.

I read the article some time ago and was left with the question of whether Michelangelo used the Sistine Chapel to make a bolder statement than simply presenting the brain?

He was patronised by Catholics and defined as a Catholic, yet there's always been a lot of discussion regarding his actual views on religion. His sexuality has also been open for debate.

In the article they point out the apparent depictions of the human brain and miss the question of why he might have portrayed the brain? I suspect he was making a satirical point in this image...

Maybe it's my modern interpretation, but these characters are depicted as arising from the human brain. Perhaps there's a suggestion that religious iconography and belief was simply a construct of the human imagination originating in the brain?

ETA: The woman in your avatar remains more attractive and fascinating than Michelangelo's best efforts

[edit on 29-7-2010 by Kandinsky]

posted on Jul, 29 2010 @ 03:53 PM
Imagery Continued: God's robe

Perhaps he is trying to convey to us that intelligence, observation and knowledge (and those physical parts of us that make them possible) arise from man, not from God/religion?

There is something else odd about this picture. A roll of fabric extends up the center of God's robe in a peculiar manner. The clothing is bunched up here as is seen nowhere else, and the fold clashes with what would be the natural drape of fabric over God's torso. In fact, they observe, it is the human spinal cord, ascending to the brain stem in God's neck. At God's waist, the robe twists again in a peculiar crumpled manner, revealing the optic nerves from two eyes, precisely as Leonardo Da Vinci had shown them in his illustration of 1487. Da Vinci and Michelangelo were contemporaries and acquainted with each other's work.


[edit on 29-7-2010 by LadySkadi]

posted on Aug, 16 2019 @ 11:36 PM
God's bare behind has been on the chapel for some 500 years yet only since around 2013 did western culture start mocking it? Bizarre!

posted on Aug, 17 2019 @ 03:59 PM
Definitely reminds me how nobody noticed for thousands of years certain passages in the bible that are so vulgar!

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