A dispute has recently emerged whether early descriptions exist of the condition we name endometriosis. A first question is: ‘Who identified endometriosis?' To respond, two non-complementary methods have been employed: searching for ancient descriptions of symptoms associated with endometriosis or, alternatively, identifying researchers who described pathological features we associate with the presence of endometriosis in its various forms. We opted for the latter and found no evidence that in older times anyone delineated the macroscopic features of endometriosis; descriptions of menstrual or cyclic pain cannot be taken as proof of knowledge of what caused it. During the mid-part of the 19th century, Rokitansky had a great intuition: endometrial glands and stroma can be present in ovarian and uterine neoplasias. However, using histological parameters of endometrial structure and activity, the first scientist to delineate peritoneal endometriosis under the name ‘adenomyoma' was Cullen. On the other hand, Rokitansky was the first to describe a form of adenomyosis (an adenomatous polyp). Early descriptions of ovarian endometrioma as ‘haematomas of the ovary' or ‘chocolate cysts' date back to the end of the 19th century. The first mention of an ‘ovary containing uterine mucosa' was published in 1899 by Russel, but Sampson was the first to demonstrate specific endometrial activities, such as desquamation at the time of menstruation and decidualization in pregnancy; subsequently, he presented a theory on its pathogenesis.