Who was the woman some call the first alchemist? Her name was Mary the Jewess or Mariam the Hebrew. She lived sometime between the first and third centuries. Why should we care? Some of the devices she created for use in chemistry procedures are still in use today, almost 2000 years later!
The double-boiler or bain-marie (Marie’s bath) is used when gentle heating is needed, whether for cooking or for carefully heating chemicals in a laboratory. And Mary’s distillation apparatus is still in use today for distilling water and more potent substances too.
Though she’s called the first alchemist, no records have been discovered showing that she was interested in the secret to eternal life, finding the philosopher’s stone, or transmutation of lead into gold. But it does appear that she was quite interested in chemical processes.
She also purportedly left behind a series of quotes that even found their way into the writings of Carl Jung!
“Join the male and the female, and you will find what is sought.”
“One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth.” Very cryptic!