Primitive Women were Scientists

rhe systematic development of knowledge and technology that we all 'science' originated in the millennia of prehistory, and early vomen were among these first 'scientists'. They invented tools, accumulated knowledge about edible and medicinal plants, and 3robably discovered 'the chemistry of pot-making, the physics of spinning, the mechanics of the loom, and the botany of flax anc ;otton'.i These developments occurred over long periods of time arising independently in different parts of the world. Progress •esulted from the activities of many individuals, both male anc female, for most early societies were probably egalitarian, with women involved in every aspect of subsistence and therefore in every aspect of developing science and technology.

Traditionally anthropologists have emphasised the skills a tools or weapons) of 'Man the Hunter'; but until recently they have ignored the knowledge and tools acquired by 'Woman the Food Gatherer'. Gathering, rather than hunting, was the primary subsis¬ tence activity of our early ancestors, and women gatherers were th first 'botanists'. Through a process of experimentation they learned to distinguish between hundreds of plants at various stages of growth; they identified locations and habitats; named species and varieties; and discovered methods for neutralising or removing poisons from otherwise edible vegetation. Food-gathering requires a concept of time, and prehistoric women learned to relate astronomical events, such as the phases of the moon or the rising of a star, to seasons and the availability of plant products. Their ability to exploit new sources of vegetable sustenance improved steadily over thousands of years, each generation passing on its cumulative knowledge.


Women have always been healers, surgeons and midwives. As gatherers they discovered the medicinal properties of plants and learned how to dry, store and mix botanicals. Through experimentation and careful observation they discovered which herbs provided effective treatment for various ailments. It can be argued that there was little improvement in medical science from the prehistoric woman botanist experimenting with roots and herbs, until the discovery of sulpha drugs and antibiotics in the twentieth century.


With gathering being our primary mode of operation in primitive society, the responsibility fell on women to do the scientific research.

Folksonomies: evolution science feminism primitive

/sports/hunting and shooting (0.440438)
/health and fitness/alternative medicine/holistic healing (0.257843)
/society/welfare/healthcare/hospital (0.178417)

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Science (0.952635): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Medicine (0.814309): dbpedia | freebase
Botany (0.801165): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Learning (0.705721): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Scientific method (0.671883): dbpedia | freebase
Technology (0.630930): dbpedia | freebase
Observation (0.627777): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Alternative medicine (0.588956): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Hypatia's Heritage (Beacon Paperback, 720)
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Alic , Margaret (1986-11-15), Hypatia's Heritage (Beacon Paperback, 720), Beacon Press, Retrieved on 2011-04-12
Folksonomies: history science feminism science history