Anyone who knows anything about Mediterranean fossil mammals loves Dorothea Minola Alice Bate (1878-1951) – and rightly so! This is the woman who in 1898 – at the age of just 19, and with no formal education – talked her way into a job at the Natural History Museum of London.
Dorothea Bate explored the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus (1902), Crete (1904 – where she met trowelblazer Harriet Boyd and Edith Hall), and the Balearics (1909-1911). Often alone, partial to dynamite, and given to excavating through high fevers, her fearless collecting trips led to the discovery of many extinct Mediterranean island species, including tiny 1m-talldwarf elephants and dwarf mammoths, and the bizarre mouse-goatMyotragus.
But Bate was so much more than a fossil hunter. She became the go-to person for any query relating to Mediterranean fossil mammals, her expertise prized by scientists the world over.
Thus it came to be that, in 1934, Dorothea Bate was the distinguished guest of the Maltese National Museum (pictured above). And this was just her first stop on a bigger adventure – to Palestine and Mount Carmel, to dig with (yet another) trowelblazer, Dorothy Garrod.
But that, my friends, is another story…
For the best account of Dorothea Bate’s life, read Discovering Dorothea by Karolyn Shindler
Written by Tori