The woman named Hypatia was a distinguished scholar, teacher and intellectual born around 360 AD and died in 415 AD. She is regarded as the world’s first outstanding woman in mathematics and one of the most interesting personalities from the world of antiquity. In addition to mathematics, she also taught philosophy and astronomy. Hypatia was the daughter of the mathematician Theon of Alexandria (c. 335 – c. 405 AD). According to classical historian Edward J. Watts, Theon was the head of a school called the “Mouseion”, which was named in emulation of the Hellenistic Mouseion, whose membership had ceased in the 260s AD.
Hypatia lived during the time of the Roman domination of Egypt and According to Socrates Scholasticus, during the Christian season of Lent in 415, a mob of Christians under the influence and control of a lector named Peter, attacked Hypatia’s carriage as she was travelling home. They pulled her into a building known as the Kaisarion, a former pagan temple and centre of the Roman imperial cult in Alexandria that had been reformed into a Christian church. There, the mob stripped Hypatia naked and murdered her using “ostraka”, which can either be translated as “roof tiles” or “oyster shells”. They tore her body into pieces and dragged her mangled limbs through the town to a place called Cinarion, where they set them on fire.
According to Watts, this was in line with the traditional style in which Alexandrians carried the bodies of the “vilest criminals” outside the city limits to cremate them as a way of symbolically purifying the city. Although Socrates Scholasticus never explicitly identifies Hypatia’s murderers, they are commonly assumed to have been members of the parabalaniMathematics has a long and distinguished tradition in Africa and she is said to have belonged to the mathematical tradition passed down to the Greeks of the Academy of Athens. Hypatia was the daughter of the man named Theon, the last known mathematician associated with the Museum of Alexandria.