Ancient History & Civilisation

Terms associated with anatomical orientation

Figure A2.1 Anatomical orientation

Anterior Anatomical term meaning before or in front. This term is equivalent to ventral.

Buccal The cheek or the area near the cheek.

Coronal plane A plane that passes longitudinally through the body from side to side at right angles to the median plane. It bisects the body into anterior and posterior portions. It is also known as the frontal plane.

Cranial Towards the head.

Distal Away from the centre.

Dorsal Posterior or towards the back.

External Outside.

Frontal In front.

Frontal plane This is an alternate term for the coronal plane, which divides the body into anterior (front) and posterior (back) portions.

Inferior Anatomical descriptor meaning lower or below; for example, the mandible can also be described as the inferior maxilla.

Infra Below.

Internal Inside.

Lateral Away from the midline, to the side.

Labial Relating to the lips.

Lingual Relating to the tongue.

Medial Towards the midline.

Mesial Towards the midline.

Posterior Behind.

Proximal Nearest the centre.

Superficial Near the surface.

Superior Above.

Supra A prefix referring to an area or landmark above a landmark on a bone.

Transverse Crosswise.

Ventral In front.

Diagrams

Figure A3.1 Superior view of the skull showing sutures (adapted from White and Folkens, 2005, 80)

Figure A3.2 Frontal view of the skull (adapted from Comas, 1960, in Krogman, 1962, 316 and Brothwell, 1981, 94)

Figure A3.3 Lateral view of the skull (adapted from Comas, 1960, in Krogman, 1962, 317)

Figure A3.4 Basilar view of the skull (adapted from Comas, 1960, in Krogman, 1962, 318)

Figure A3.5 Skeleton, with apologies to Vesalius (adapted from Vesalius’ first book of De Humani Corporis Fabrica, c. 1543. Reproduced in Saunders and O’Malley, 1982, 85)

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