Since the earliest times women have been important contributors to the advancement of technology, but we know very little about the work of specific women in antiquity. This paper reviews our knowledge of the technological innovations made by two women in Alexandria—Maria the Jewess and Hypatia.
Their inventions may be the earliest technological work that can be ascribed to individual women. Maria probably lived in the first century. She was one of the founders of both theoretical and experimental alchemy. She is credited with the invention of laboratory apparatus that remain basic tools of the modern chemist. Hypatia (370–415) is better known for her mathematical work, but her designs for scientific instruments are of interest as examples of the technological work of ancient women. Her death marked the end of Greek science.