‘The Organ of Smelling is the Nose, placed in the upper Part of the Body, the better to receive the Invisible Fumes and Vapors, and to conveigh their Qualities through the Odoratory Nerves, inserted in the inner Tunicle to the common Sensory, and represent them to the Judgment of the Mind, though some Men may be able to judge of things to be desired or avoided, which are not to be perceived either by the Sight or Hearing’.
Ysbrand van Diemerbroeck, The anatomy of humane bodies, … translated by
William Salmon (London, 1689), p. 470.
Nathaniel Highmore, Corporis humani disquisitio anatomica in qua sanguinis circulationem in quavis corporis particula plurimis typis novis ac ænygmatum medicorum succincta dilucidatione ornatam prosequutus est Nathanael Highmorus (The Hague, 1651), Tab. XVI: image of the sinuses.
The English anatomist Nathaniel Highmore (1613–85), is perhaps best known for two things: his advocacy of Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood, and his work on the anatomy of the nose. In particular, he is known for his description of the maxillary sinus, which used to be called the antrum of Highmore (prior to that it had been called the ‘antrum of Casseri’ after the Paduan anatomist Giulio Cesare Casseri (fl, 1552–1616)). As Mavrodi and Paraskevas note, the word ‘antrum’ is derived from a Greek word, άντρον, meaning a hollow, while ‘sinus’, a Latin word, has a similar meaning. In this way the terminology reflects the anatomical landscape of the sinuses around the eye sockets.
The paranasal sinuses provided a challenge for ancient and early modern anatomists and even Vesalius did not provide detailed illustrations of the maxillary sinuses. As Formby relates, their presence had been noted by Galen and drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci (1452–1519), but Highmore was the first to publish an illustration of them. His textbook also depicted the frontal sinus and ethmoid sinus. In the above image we see the relationship between the maxillary sinus and the teeth of the upper jaw, while the cross section of the skull (in the lower right corner), depicts the frontal, spheroid and maxillary sinuses.
Text: Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, Dublin.
Formby, Myles L, ‘The Maxillary Sinus’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 53, no. 163 (1959), 1–6.
Lund, Valerie, ‘The Evolution of Surgery on the Maxillary Sinus for Chronic Rhinosinusitis’, The Laryngoscope, 112, no. 3 (2002), 415–19.
Mavrodi, Alexandra and George Paraskevas, ‘Evolution of the paranasal sinuses; anatomy through the ages’, Anatomy and Cell Biology, 46, no .4 (2013), 235–238.
Oster, Malcolm, ‘Highmore, Nathaniel (1613–1685), chemical physician and anatomist’, ODNB.
 Worth owned a Latin edition of this work, printed in Geneva in 1679.
 Lund, Valerie, ‘The Evolution of Surgery on the Maxillary Sinus for Chronic Rhinosinusitis’, The Laryngoscope, 112, no. 3 (2002), 415.
 Mavrodi, Alexandra and George Paraskevas, ‘Evolution of the paranasal sinuses; anatomy through the ages’, Anatomy and Cell Biology, 46, no. 4 (2013), 235.