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Born Merit
Second or Third Dynasty Egypt
Occupation Chief physician[1]
Spouse(s) Unknown
Children Son

Merit Ptah ("Beloved of the god Ptah"; c. 2700 BCE) was an early physician in ancient Egypt.[2] She is most notable for being the first woman known by name in the history of the field of medicine, and possibly the first named woman in all of science as well.[3]

Her picture can be seen on a tomb in the necropolis near the step pyramid of Saqqara. Her son, who was a High Priest, described her as "the Chief Physician."[4][citation needed]

The physician Merit Ptah should not be confused with Merit-Ptah, the wife of Ramose, the Governor of Thebes and Vizier under Akhenaten, who is depicted with her husband in TT55 in Sheikh Abd el-Qurna.[5]


Merit Ptah crater on Venus

The International Astronomical Union named the impact crater Merit Ptah on Venus after her.[citation needed]


  1. ^ New Scientist, 19 Feb 1987. Page about Merit-Ptah.
  2. ^ Women in Leadership: Contextual Dynamics and Boundaries by Karin Klenke
  3. ^ The Fundamentals of Nuclear Power Generation: Questions & Answers by M. W. Hubbell
  4. ^ Klenke, Karin (2011-04-27). Women in Leadership:Contextual Dynamics and Boundaries: Contextual Dynamics and Boundaries. Emerald Group Publishing. p. 192. ISBN 9780857245625. 
  5. ^ Baikie, James (1932). Egyptian Antiquities in the Nile Valley. Methuen.


  • Merit Ptah
  • Kampp, Friederike: Die Thebanische Nekropole (Mainz: Zabern, 1996), Vol. I, p. 262.