The seven liberal arts taught as basic studies in medieval universities are personified here as elegant young women dressed at the height of fashion.
Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Music, Geometry, Arithmetic, and Astronomy all line up headed by Philosophy. They hold in their hands clues as to which studies they represent.
Philosophy Presenting the Seven Liberal Arts to Boethius, about 1460 - 1470, Attributed to the Coetivy Master. J. Paul Getty Museum.
Merit-Ptah circa 2700 BCE
Merit-Ptah is the first woman known by name in the history of science. Little is known of her life, but according to the tomb her son created for her in Egypt, Merit-Ptah was “the chief physician.”
A handful of physicians are known by name from this early period and there is some debate over the exact timeline. Merit-Ptah’s life likely overlapped with that of Imhotep, the man most often considered the first named physician in history. Another male physician, Hesy-Ra, is believed to have lived at around the same time as Merit-Ptah and Imhotep. Peseshet is sometimes named as the first female physician, but she is likely at least a generation younger than Merit-Ptah, Imhotep, and Hesy-Ra.
Peseshet was referred to as the “lady overseer of the female physicians” during the Fourth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. This shows there were a number of female medical professionals working in Egypt 4,600 years ago. Peseshet is believed to have been involved in gynecological and obstetrical training at the ancient Egyptian medical school at Sais. An inscription at Sais gives insight to the training of early medical practitioners: "I have come from the medical school at Heliopolis, and have studied at the woman’s school at Sais where the divine mothers have taught me how to cure disease.”
an exhibition by the V&A and the Qatar Museums Authority exploring the history of pearls from the early Roman Empire through to present day
Since 2009, the Smithsonian Archives has posted photographs showing women scientists and engineers at work. Here are some images from their archives.
Anna Chao Pai, working on developmental genetics and cross-breeding special strains of mice.
Anna “Vesse” Dahl, a Norwegian adventurer who made great contributions to research on atomic energy.
Bertha Parker Pallan, one of the first female Native American archaeologists.
Aviation expert and pilot Anesia Pinheiro Machado, the first Brazilian woman to make a cross-country flight.
Source: The Smithsonian
Long before Amelia Earhart, female aeronauts were some of the most famous performers of their day, riding aloft in beautiful silk balloons loaded with fireworks to perform acrobatic tricks thousands of feet above the ground. Napoleon’s favorite daredevil was Sophie Blanchard.
… Sophie devised a special balloon for her ascents, which featured a tiny festooned gondola that could hardly fit one standing person. She would float above the crowd as if standing on air, fireworks trailing behind, often wearing a signature white dress with a colorfully plumed hat.
Falling Upwards – an illustrated history of the golden age of hot air balloons and how we took the skies.
Limestone head of an Egyptian woman
Her elaborate wig suggests that she is elite and/or very well off. She has the typical facial characteristics of the 18th dynasty; almond eye, full lips in a gentle smile and a child-like round face.
Egyptian, New Kingdom, 18th dynasty, 1473 - 1352 BCE
Found in Luxor area and purchased in 1909
Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Ammonites are an extinct group of marine cephalopods that are more closely related to modern octopus and squid than the nautiloids that they closely resemble. Appearing as early as the Devonian period approximately 410 million years ago, ammonites survived in a variety of sizes and shapes…
“The Scott Expedition is a 1,800-mile (2,900km), four-month unsupported return journey from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole on foot following [the same route that claimed the lives of Captain Robert Scott and his men a century ago]. Equivalent to 69 back-to-back marathons, the team will face temperatures as low as -50 °C and will haul sledge loads of up to 200kg each.”
Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.
Archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. By comparing the relative lengths of certain fingers, Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female.
"There has been a male bias in the literature for a long time," said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. "People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why." Read more.
Photos © Flood G.
Modern archeologists, excavating ancient Egyptian tombs, have often found something unexpected amongst the tombs’ artifacts: pots of honey, thousands of years old, and yet still preserved. Through millennia, the archeologists discover, the food remains unspoiled, an unmistakable testament to the eternal shelf-life of honey.
There are a few other examples of foods that keep–indefinitely–in their raw state: salt, sugar, dried rice are a few. But there’s something about honey; it can remain preserved in a completely edible form, and while you wouldn’t want to chow down on raw rice or straight salt, one could ostensibly dip into a thousand year old jar of honey and enjoy it, without preparation, as if it were a day old. Moreover, honey’s longevity lends it other properties–mainly medicinal–that other resilient foods don’t have. Which begs the question–what exactly makes honey such a special food?
The answer is ascomplex as honey’s flavor–you don’t get a food source with no expiration date without a whole slew of factors working in perfect harmony.