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November 1957

A Brief History of the Portal Circulation

Author Affiliations

San Francisco

From the Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1957;100(5):848-852. doi:10.1001/archinte.1957.00260110164023

A perusal of the early history of the human race would suggest that the liver might easily have been the first of the internal organs known to man. Hepatoscopy, the reading of omens in the signs noted on the liver of sacrificial animals, was one of the oldest and widespread methods of divining the future, both among the primitive peoples and among the several civilizations of antiquity. Among the Babylonians, soothsaying was concentrated upon the liver. Terra cotta models of these livers estimated to be about 3000 years old have been found, the surfaces of which have been divided into squares and studded with prophetic inscriptions. Similar models of the liver have been found at ancient Hittite sites in Asia Minor, and Etruscan livers in bronze, dating from the third century B. C., have been found near Piacenza. The drawings of these models pictured by Stieda 1 show the general