Leonardo Da Vinci rivers
Source: Universal Leonardo

While on the subject of maps and anatomy with my previous post on the art of Shannon Rankin, a fellow medical illustrator informed me that Leonardo Da Vinci originally made numerous comparisons between rivers and the circulatory system.

The illustration above depicts Da Vinci’s “birds-eye vision” of the Arno River near Florence. He sees the flowing water of the river as comparable to the waterways in our own bodies, namely our veins. He even compares the erosion process and deposit of sediments over time to the deterioration of our own vessels during the aging process.

The idea appeals to me that the earth is governed by nature and is much like the system of our own bodies in which there are both veins (vessels for blood) and arteries (vessels for air). In the earth there are some routes though which water runs, some through which air passes. And nature fashions these routes so like the human body that our ancestors call them “veins of water”.

Leonardo Da Vinci veins

Superficial veins detail, Windsor, Royal Library
Thanks to Devon for the information.