Taputti is the first named chemist in history


Long before chemistry was a recognised science people were using techniques that would not be out of place in a modern lab. Using heat and solvents to distil chemicals is something all chemists today are trained in – and they were being used 3000 years ago in Mesopotamia by a woman named Taputti. Taputti is the first named chemist in history.

Taputti is named in a small clay tablet that describes her as a perfumer and overseer of a royal palace. To create her perfumes she is said to have used a still to distil essences from various plants. This is also the first mention of a still, a standard piece of scientific equipment.

Taputti was apparently not unique in her position as a chemical worker at the time. The tablet that names Taputti also mentions she had an assistant called… something. Unfortunately the tablet is damaged so only the end of the name, –ninu, survives. As this is a female name ending it seems Taputti was not the only female chemist

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