Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

1: Hypatia of Alexandria

The Woman who Inspired it All

Birth Date Unknown, Most Likely Alexandria, Roman-Controlled Egypt (Present-day Alexandria, Egypt)

Died: March 415 AD, Alexandria, Roman-Controlled Egypt (Present-day Alexandria, Egypt)

Hypatia is the woman who inspired this entire project. In 2015, I sat down to watch "Alexandria the Greatest City"; a documentary hosted by Bettany Hughes. That single decision would change the course of history: my personal history in any case.

In that documentary, Bettany spoke of a woman named Hypatia, and from there I was completely overtaken by the project you're currently looking at. One single action can change the course of a person's life. In this case, it was an amazing decision.

So, here she is, entry Number One on the Women's List: Hypatia of Alexandria.

Hypatia was a mathematician, inventor, astronomer, philosopher, and she may have been the only female teacher at the University of Alexandria in all of Antiquity. The University of Alexandria was one of a kind and unlike anything else in the world during Hypatia's lifetime. So to say she was unique and awe inspiring would be the understatement of the millennium.

Hypatia is also the earliest known female mathematician whose works survive and are well known (her main focus was geometry). This is a fancy way of saying that there may have been earlier female mathematicians, but unfortunately their works have been lost to us.

Hypatia's father was named Theon—the last known member of the Alexandria Museum. In her time Hypatia was the world’s leading mathematician and philosopher—the only woman who has ever been able to claim that title. Unlike the Hollywood Film Agora (loosely based on her life, Rachel Weisz plays Hypatia) our real life mathematician took a vow of chastity and was not romantically attached to anyone; nor did she have children.

Because her teachings were considered pagan, Hypatia was targeted and eventually murdered by a Christian Mob. I so greatly wish this story had a happier ending, but it doesn't.

The details of what the mob did to Hypatia are so gruesome and vile I will not include them here, but you can easily find those details in the source links I will include below.

To make everything that much more depressing; The Great Library of Alexandria disappeared soon after Hypatia's murder.

To watch Hypatia's story in cute, animated video format, click the link in this article to watch Ted-Ed's video explanation of Hypatia's life story.

Badges Earned:

Find a Grave Marked

Rejected Princess

Located in My Personal Library:

Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher by Edward J Watts

Hypatia's Heritage: A History of Women in Science from Antiquity to the Late Nineteenth Century by Margaret Alic

National Geographic History Magazine Article "The Lost Knowledge of the Library of Alexandria" (August/September 2015 Edition)

One Bloody Thing After Another: The World's Gruesome History by Jacob F Field

Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath

Uppity Women Speak Their Minds by Vicki León

Who Knew? Women in History: Questions That Will Make You Think Again by Sarah Herman

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky


The Books Listed Above

Ted-Ed's Video, Also Linked in This Article