History has given us some great scientists, but one of the earliest ones mentioned was Tapputi. Probably the first chemist known to modern historians, Tapputi whipped up some heady perfumes in the ancient palaces of Babylon.
Dating from around 1200 B.C., a whole bunch of tablets written in cuneiform (get your name transformed in this ancient script here!) survived from the royal palace. These mentioned two specific ladies: Tapputi and another woman whose whole name didn't survive (but it ended in "-ninu"). Tapputi (who bore the epithet of "Belatekallim," or "mistress of the household") and her colleague were perfume manufacturers and authors who wrote texts about scent artistry.
Tapputi brewed up the ancient Near Eastern version of Chanel No. 5. Image via The Gloss.
One of the recipes Tapputi created for her royal masters and mistresses has survived. It was a preparation of "flowers, oil, and calamus [a plant commonly used in perfumes from Egypt, Syria, and Arabia]" that she concocted for the king himself. This recipe yielded a solid salve that she made by brewing the ingredients, including myrrh, in a hariu pot, letting it steep overnight, and distilling the resulting stuff. After a series of other preparations, including lots of re-heating, you get a good-smelling item fit for a monarch.
Perfumery was an incredibly important art in ancient Mesopotamia. Such products were used in religious and royal rituals alike, making the demand for incense and aromatics quite high. Some scholars have theorized women got their feet in the door scent-wise because of their skill in cooking and brewing beer, from which they developed the skills of distilling and extracting necessary for this industry.
Feature image of the Burney Relief via Ancient Art Tumblr.