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Zambeccari, Giuseppe

1. Dates
Born: Castelfranco di Sotto, near Florence, 19 March 1655
Died: Pisa, 13 December 1728
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 73
2. Father
Occupation: Government Official
Bernardino Zambeccari descended from an old family in Pontremoli (Tuscany) as did the mother, Livia Maraffi. The father was "cancelliere" of the community of Castelfranco, and later of other communities.
No clear indication of financial standing except that they were not wealthy, as an official statement at the time of Zambeccari's admission to Pisa said.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italian
Career: Italian
Death: Italian
4. Education
Schooling: Pisa, M.D.
He entered Pisa at eighteen, in 1673, and graduated with an M.D. in 1679. Among his professors was Lorenzo Bellini. As with all M.D's, I assume a B.A. or its equivalent.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Physiology, Anatomy
He experimented on dogs, removing organs in order to understand the function they performed in the living animal- -the spleen, for example. Sometime after the organ was removed, he would kill the dog and dissect it in order to attempt to observe what changes had resulted.
He was said to have carried out 30,000 dissections in Pisa. The number is clearly impossible, but I take it that he did a lot of dissections.
He developed a general, iatromechanical physiology of the nerves in "Concerning Sleep . . .", a manuscript unpublished in his own day.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Medicine
Secondary: Patronage, Schoolmastering
After he was with Redi in Florence for two years, he returned to Pisa in 1681, where he was appointed to the chair in practical medicine (salary: 150 scudi), and then, in 1689, the chair of medicine proper (salary: 200 scudi). In 1704 he succeeded Bellini in anatomy (salary not stated).
He also gave private lessons in his home.
The evidence of medical practice is very thin, but there are lots of references to his clinical work (as a professor) and one reference to his fame as a physician. I am interpreting those references in the light of the nearly universal practice of academic professors of medicine.
8. Patronage
Type: Scientist
After completing his medical degree, Zambeccari lived in Florence with Redi for a couple of years and worked with him, and to Redi he dedicated his Experiments Concerning the Excision of Various Organs, 1680. From letters by Redi it appears that he was instrumental in Zambeccari's appointment in Pisa, and later of his promotion.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Medical Practice
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
He knew Guido Grandi and corresponded with him.
Ninety letters, in private ownership, survived in 1941. I have no information whether they still survive.
  1. Saul Jarcho, "Giuseppe Zambeccari, a Seventeenth-Century Pioreeer in Experimental Physiology and Surgery," Bulletin of the History of Medicinne, 9 1941), 144-76. _____, "Experiments of Doctor Joseph Zambeccari Concerning the Excision of Various Organs from Different Living Animals," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 9 (1941), 311-31. This is a translation of Zambeccari's treatise. A. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Aerzte aller Zeiten und Voelker, (3rd ed., Munich, 1962), 5, 1024. Michaud, Biographie générale, 45, 355. P. Ferrari, "Giuseppe Zambeccari," Giornale storico e letterario della Liguria, new ser. 1 (1925), 90-116.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Max Neuburger, "Zambeccari, ein Experimentator der 17.
  2. Jahrhunderts," Med.-chir. Zbl (Zeitblatt? Zentralblatt?), 31 (1896), 368. I have not succeeded in identifying this journal. I gather that this essay was published, in English, in Neuburger, Essays in the History of Medicine, (New York, 1950), which is also not available to me.
  3. Carlo Fedeli, "Di uno scritto idrologico de Giuseppe Zambeccari," in Raccolta di scritti nel giubileo del Prof.
  4. Barduzzi, (Livorno, 1912).
  5. _____, "Giuseppe Zambeccari, Del sonno, della veglia a dell'uso dell'oppio. Lettera inedita," Annali delle Universitŕ Toscana, 33 (1914).
  6. _____, ed., Lettera di Giuseppe Zambeccari a Francesco Redi sulle vivisezioni ed asportazioni di alcuni visceri, (Pisa, 1907).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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