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Adrienne Mayor

Adrienne Mayor

Research Scholar, Department of Classics

Adrienne Mayor is a historian of ancient science and warfare, and a classical folklorist who investigates natural knowledge contained in pre-scientific myths and oral traditions. Mayor's most recent book is Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology (2018). The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World (2014), was awarded the Sarasvati Prize for Women in Mythology 2016. Her biography of Mithradates VI of Pontus, The Poison King, was a finalist for the National Book Award 2009 and won top honors for Biography, Independent Publishers' Awards 2010. Her research looks at ancient "folk science" precursors, alternatives, and parallels to modern scientific methods. Mayor's two books on pre-Darwinian fossil traditions in classical antiquity and in Native America opened a new field within the emerging discipline of Geomythology, and her book on the origins of biological weapons uncovered the ancient roots of biochemical warfare. She's also a Research Scholar in Stanford's History and Philosophy of Science and Technology Program. Mayor's work has been featured on NPR and BBC, the History Channel, and other popular media, including New York Times, USA Today, Foreign Affairs, and National Geographic; her books are translated into Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Hungarian, Polish, German, Italian, Turkish, Russian, and Greek. Mayor's research is featured in the National Geographic children's book The Griffin and the Dinosaur (by M. Aronson, 2014). She is a regular contributor to the award-winning history of science website Wonders and Marvels.


November 2018
The first robot to walk the earth was a bronze giant called Talos. This wondrous machine was created not by MIT Robotics Lab, but by Hephaestus, the...
November 2018
Article by Adrienne Mayor published in History Today, Volume 68, Issue 11
"Autocrats have deployed automatons as weapons since antiquity, not just in...
October 2018
"Those who warn about the potential dangers and unintended consequences of artificial intelligence and machine learning are right to invoke Pandora...
November 2014
Article written by Adrienne Mayor in the LA Times published on November 29, 2014.
Some 2,500 years ago, the Greeks had a big Amazon moment. Read...
July 2014
Amazons, fierce warrior women dwelling on the fringes of the known world, were the mythic archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Heracles and Achilles...
November 2009
Machiavelli praised his military genius. European royalty sought out his secret elixir against poison. His life inspired Mozart's first opera, while...