Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Brief List of Women Scientists through Time (Antiquity a.k.a. pre-5th century CE)

I start this blog with a caveat, throughout history there has been a tendency to under-report on women participating in the sciences... what follows is definitely not a comprehensive list. Please add your finds to the following list:

  •  Merit Ptah, (2700 BCE) the world's first, currently known, female physician. 
  • Enheduanna (c. 2285–2250 BCE), Sumerian (Akkadian) astronomer and poet, daughter of King Sargon of Akkad.
  • Tapputi-Belatekallim  (~1200 BCE mentioned in a clay tablet dated), considered the first chemist. She was a Babylonian perfumer, the first person in history recorded as using a chemical process, the first referenced still.
  • Theano (6th century BCE), philosopher, mathematician and physician
  •  Perictione (5th century BCE), Greek philosopher, mother of Plato
  •  Arete of Cyrene (5th–4th centuries BCE), natural and moral philosopher, North Africa
  •  Pythias of Assos (4th century BCE), Greek biologist and embryologist with a special interest in marine zoology.
  •  Agnodice (4th century BCE), potentially the first woman physician to practice legally in Athens. The story goes that she hid her gender except to her female patients, so she would be able to practice medicine, especially gynecology. When many women quit going to the the male doctors they brought Agnodice before the court and accused Agnodice of seducing "his" female patients. Agnodice then, graphically, exposed that she was a female. The response was to then  condemn her for violating the law by studying medicine. A crowd of women arrived to praise her medical successes. The result, the laws of Athens were changed and women physicians were allowed to treat women.
  • Hypatia (370–415), Greek mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher.
  • Aemilia (300-363 BCE), Gallo-Roman physician
  • Favilla (2nd century), Roman physician.
  • Aglaonice (1st or 2nd c. BCE), astronomer Greece, regarded as a sorceress for her ability to make the moon disappear, in other words she could predict the time and ~area where a lunar eclipse would occur. One of a group considered the "witches of Thessaly", that were active from the 3rd to 1st centuries BCE.
  •  Maria Prophetissa (b/n 1st and 3rd c. CE), considered first western alchemist, developed several pieces of chemical apparatus.
  •  Metrodora (ca. 200-400 AD), Greek physician and author
  • Leoparda (4th century AD), physician and gynecologist
  • Macrina (4th century AD), Greek physician and nun

1 comment:

  1. Hypatia is one of my favorites! She was the head of the Neoplatonic school at Alexandria, and an overall intellectual badass. Unfortunately, as with many intellectual women of antiquity, there are many disputes over her contributions to her fields and it is likely that many of her ideas and inventions have been attributed to other people.