Some 1,500 years separate the date of birth of Hypatia, a remarkable woman who lived and studied in the city of Alexandria, and that of Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. Still virtually unknown to most men and women, Hypatia, astronomer, mathematician and mechanical genius, is now mentioned by leading scientists and historians in the same breath as Archimedes, Ptolemy, Euclid, Eratosthenes, and the other great men whose genius flourished in the city founded by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. Considered by many as the single greatest center of learning and creative genius in history, the Bibliotheca Alexandriana eventually contained some 700,000 works. Hypatia, who developed the process of distilling fluids, was one of many women who were outstanding scientists during the past 3,000 years but whose names and achievements are only now beginning to emerge in the wake of new historical research. 1
As a woman, Hypatia had her share of enemies. In Cosmos Carl Sagan wrote that Cyril, the Archbishop of Alexandria, despised her because of her close friendship with the Roman governor and because she was a symbol of learning and science. Unfortunately for her, any learning and science not wholly controlled by the church was tagged as paganism. In the year 415 Hypatia was ambushed by a mob of Cyril's parishioners. They dragged her from her chariot, tore off her clothes and flayed her flesh from her bones. Hypatia's remains were burned and her documents, writings and other works destroyed. Cyril was made a saint. 2 On the order of the Christian Emperor Theodosius the entire library of books in Alexandria was also subsequently destroyed. The Emperor considered the library and its scientists, where Eratosthenes some 600 years earlier had first accurately determined the circumference of the earth, a nest of paganism. In 1988, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt laid the cornerstone for the reconstruction of the great library.
There is nothing new about battered women. When Dr. Monique Fouant of the Medical College of Virginia studied Chilean mummies from the Azapa culture (circa 1000 B.C.) she found that 36 percent of the women, but only 9 percent of the men, had broken bones and over half were skull fractures. The nature of the fractures indicated that in 45 percent of the mummies examined, death had been inflicted by lethal blows. It was the same story 750 years later, in the Alto-Ramirez culture. Of the women, 50 percent had fractures; of the men, only 20 percent. 3
Kidnapping or the sale of younger women for prostitution, cruelty