Friday, March 12, 2010

Afrocentrism and the distortion of Greek history

Ioannis Kotoulas
(Translation into English by Athan).

On February 1993 in the College Wellesley of Massachusetts a lecture was given regarding the ancient Egyptian civilization. The speaker, Yosef A. A. Ben Jochannan was presented by the event organizers as a “distinguished Egyptologist”. During his lecture Jochannan more or less supported that the ancient Greeks practically stole their civilization from Egypt, that philosopher Aristotle went to Alexandria along with Alexander the Great to visit the library which Aristotle eventually sacked in order to write his works.

During questions, a professor of classical studies named Mary Lefkowitz asked the lecturer why he would claim something like that when Alexandria acquired its great library well after the death of Aristotle, and moreover, the Greek philosopher never visited Egypt. Jochannan refused to answer, accusing Lefkowitz for empathy and negative stance towards the opinions of the black population. After the lecture many students accused Lefkowitz for racism and a one way comprehension of history. Indeed, what is happening in the American universities?

Afrocentrism is an ideological movement with historical and political extensions, which has spread through many universities across the Atlantic especially during the 90s. It is a branch of a new wave of political correctness that swept the American society during the last decade.

The supposed basic core of the beliefs of afrocentrism is shaped as thus: Mother of civilization – especially of Western civilization – is .....
the continent of Africa and the carriers of civilization are the African nations. Many high level societies were formed in Africa long before the white nations appeared in the foreground of history. Ancient Egypt was but a part of the black African civilization and also the Egyptians themselves were blacks (Negros) from an anthropological point of view.

The African civilization of Egypt influenced the Greek world and the birth of classical civilization significantly, since the ancient Greeks borrowed, or more appropriately “stole” their religion, science and philosophy, the artistic and mental achievements, from the ancient Egyptians, Canaanites and the Phoenicians. Great figures of the ancient world, such as Socrates, Cleopatra or Jesus Christ were blacks. But also in the more recent years the world famous musician Ludwig van Beethoven and empress Josephine of Austria. By and large, the whole of white western civilization or at least its noblest expressions are owed to the black people of Africa. Regardless of how unreal all of these sound, many members of the academic community and of other educational degrees in the United States have adopted them fully and have included them in their teaching program.

Apart from the basic core of teachings, Afrocenrtrism reaches to even more extreme and unhistorical views. Jochannan claims that Plato drew out his philosophical opinions from the Egyptian priesthood which had developed a complete system of ideas. In reality Plato never visited Egypt and the relative literature regarding the Greek - Egyptian philosophy under Hermes Trismegistus was developed during the first centuries after Christianity, 500 years after the death of Plato. Jochannan also mentions, as it was initially stated, that Aristotle went to Egypt where he studied the various Egyptian documents in the library of Alexandria. These manuscripts he translated in Greek and then re-published them as his own. One small detail the afrocentrist writer ignores is that the library of Alexandria started to be built during 300-290 BC from Ptolemy of Lagos, years after the death of Aristotle (322). The Stagirite absolutely never visited Egypt.

Cheikh Anta Diop in the book “Civilization or barbarism: An authentic anthropology” supports that even the inventor Archimedes stole (words referring to stealing are often used by afrocentrists) his mathematical knowledge from the Egyptians. Other afrocentrist writers assure us that that the discovery of America was due to the Africans, which had arrived on the continent well before Colombus, declaring the start of the Mesoamerican civilizations. Moreover, melanin, the substance with which the color of the skin is determined, makes black people superior both spiritually and physically to the whites. Thus, afrocentrism attracts immiscibly racist assumptions for which the other side is often blamed.

Writer Francis Welsing supports the manichaeistic cultural scheme that separates mankind into two wide categories: The Sun People and the Ice People. The first are naturally all blacks which have the calmer and civilized character, they also have a much evolved sense of community. The Ice People, the white race, are still into the mentality of the cave people. They tend to be expansive, separate the world, installing patriarchal systems and import the feeling of individualism and of the small group of common interests. The exaggerations of afrocentrism are indeed various and many, but it would be more appropriate to investigate the conditions that led to the birth of such views.

Origins and the historical descent of afrocentrism.

Afrocentrism appeared in a more specific and concentrated form during the 90’s in the United States. During this period, the American society –already a mixture of white Anglo-Saxons, blacks, Hispanics and various other nations and religions- was orientated towards the idea of multiculturalism. Under the guise of democratic equalization of all groups of the populations and minorities, the perspective of relativity and subjectivity of historical events arose. No more was there a single truth, just subjective statements; there was no solid history, just a sum of narrations. Every group of the population could (and should) construct its own historical background. In this way the self-awareness would be obtained and its distinguished character would be preserved.

For the favor of the constantly resurgent political correctness the historical correctness was neglected intentionally. Anything that did not decrease the particular egoism of these groups or did not go against their self-willed historical and political opinions could be characterized as real. The groups of blacks, feminists and homosexuals claimed the revision of history so that the establishment of their dogmatic and pre-formed opinions could be eased.

Classical education of ancient and Greek knowledge yielded considerably as they were replaced in many universities and other institutions by studies of minority group, feminist, gender and gay studies. Especially as far as afrocentrism is concerned, let it be noted that in many schools and universities the teaching of ancient Greek history and language was replaced by myths and traditions of the indigenous African tribes. It was within such a social and political framework of obsession that the defense of the Greek character of Macedonia using historically proven facts was mistaken for an egoistic attempt of blocking the Skopjan point of view.

Well before the 90’s there were many pseudo-literature studies that existed in the gutter of scientific research in which the aspects of the Afrocentrists were stated. However during that period the studies of this kind were enlisted in the same category with books that supported that earth was flat. If one wishes to find the roots of afrocentrism, then he should go back to the 19th century. After the American civil war (1861-1865) the movement against the slavery of blacks was enacted, and it virtually aimed towards the smiting of the political and economical areas of the South. It was during that period that the first assumptions for the African origins of the Egyptian civilization where stated. Writer Frederick Douglas (1817-1895) supported that the ancient Egyptians were normal blacks: “another unfortunate turn coincidence is that the ancient Egyptians were not whites, but undoubtedly they were as black as many of our co-patriots that are now considered genuine Negros.”

Similar were the beliefs of Edwart Wilmot Blyden (1832-1912), who had taken classical studies but held firmly to the African point of view. After he went to Egypt in 1866, he ended up to the conclusion that the pyramids could only be the work of black Africans. “This, I thought, was the work of my African forefathers. I thought I heard the sound of these great Africans, as if I felt the vehemence of their restless spirits who had sent civilization to the Greeks. If only my voice could reach every African on earth, I would say to him with great sincerity. Reclaim your glory!”

The belief that the Egyptian civilization was black continued with the amateur historian W.E.B. du Bois (1868-1963), but also with members of the American freemasons with African origin. In this way a utopian apprehension for ancient Egypt was preserved, where the black population achieved greatness in science, literature and philosophy. The same beliefs are distinguished in the work of Marcus Mosya Garvey (1887-1940), black activist and head of para-political organizations of the black community of America. Garvey wanted to use arguments of historical nature for purposes of pure political character.

By believing that the black race is obviously greater than the white, he considered that the white Greeks and Romans stole their civilization from Egypt. In his essay “Who and What is a Negro? -1923)” he writes “Every unprejudiced student of history knows that the Negro ruled the world when whites where merely savages living in caves; that in ancient years thousands of Negro teachers taught in the universities of Alexandria which was then the center of knowledge; that ancient Egypt gave civilization to the world, while Greece and Rome stole its arts and language and took all its glory to themselves.”

These first afrocentrist writers prompted repeatedly their readers to reject without question all white historians, in a very clear demonstration of racial intolerance. Addressing his readers, Garvey mentions that “The current educational system hides the truth for Negros. Read, for example, that the Egyptians where a great race, also the Carthaginians, the Libyans and others, but they will never tell you they were Negros or black. You should therefore go further than the simple recordings of those events and discover the truth that honors your race”

The misappropriation of important ancient civilizations, like the Egyptian or Carthaginian, concerns a political reading of history and an ideological abuse of scientific data. And like then, the various shown arguments are in essence of political advisability nowadays. In the 19th century and until the full emancipation of the black population of America, the cultural creativity of the black citizens needed to be demonstrated. Today, within the framework of an arbitrary definition of the multicultural, their catalytic contribution in the birth of western civilization needs to be brought forth. According to a detailed study of afrocentrism “chauvinist historians (of Africa) consider the urgency of destroying the aspects that the Western historiography created. The Egyptian history can be called African in a racial sense, if one assumes that the blood of Negros run freely within the vains of ancient Egyptian” (John Markakis, Pan-Africanism: The Idea and the Movement, Ph.D.Dissertation, Columbia University, 1965).

After the African writers that evolved their afrocentrism as a reaction to the system of colonialism, the link with the recent re-appearance of the ideology is the book Stolen Legacy -1954 of George James. James was a professor of ancient Greek in middle education. In a quite dangerous statement he said that “the term Greek philosophy is in fact wrong because there is no such philosophy. The Greeks did not have a natural ability necessary for the development of philosophy. The Greek philosophy was not invented by Greeks but by the Blacks of Northern Africa, the Egyptians”. James counters the lack of any evidence what so ever using the argument that there is a white European conspiracy from the antiquity until today, in order to hide the contribution of the black race to civilization.

These points re-appeared renewed in the end of the 80’s causing much discussion and raising the reaction of many known scientists for the first time. This happened with a quite ambiguous book, the Black Athena.

The Black Athena and the forgery of history.

The title itself is provoking: Black Athena : The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization – the first tome was published in 1987, the second one in 1991. Athena, a symbol of the Greek world, of wisdom and of civilization was according to this book, black. The author of this book is Martin Bernal (born 1937), British from Hebrew descent. In reality Bernal is a sinologist, a researcher of the civilization of China and its neighboring people. As he mentions in the prologue of the first tome (The Fabrication of ancient Greece 1785-1985), his only activity with the subject of the origins of the ancient Greek civilization was a result of a personal crisis , that led him to the approach of his Hebrew roots and identity. During this research he examined the contacts between Greek and Semitic people and concluded to certain ideas that the historical, archaeological and linguist science has never acknowledged.

Bernal considers that the 25% of Greek language is of Semitic origin, 25% is of Egyptian origin, it then allows a percentage of 40-50% to be Indo-European. His basic belief is that the ancient Greek civilization is formed firstly from the civilization of Egypt, and secondarily from Canaanites and Phoenicians.

Bernal distinguishes two general categories of interpreting the origin of the Greek civilization. It is about the Ancient Model and the Aryan model (terminology by Bernal). The Aryan model is younger, it was founded in the 19th century mostly by German researchers and it mostly exists until today. It is the theory of the Indo-European origin of the Greek tribes, which came to Greece in the Bronze Age or sooner (various interesting alterations exist about the theory regarding the initial common cradle of the Indo-Europeans).

The Ancient Model, which according to Bernal the ancient Greeks themselves agreed to, wants the ancestors of the Greeks living as passive elements in simple and primitive societies. The evolution of civilization is attributed to Egyptians and Semites foreigners that dominated the Aegean space causing the cultural explosion of the Greek world. According to this way of thinking, the myths for the arrival of Kadmos are interpreted as an Egyptian – Semitic colonization of Boeotia following the founding of Thebes from eastern elements, while the tradition of Danaus that came to Argos from Egypt concerns the import of Egyptian civilization in the Peloponnese.

Bernal considers that an invasion of Semites Hyksos in the area of Egypt during 1700-1600 BC. The Hyksos, despite the fact that they were of Semitic origin, spread the Egyptian civilization in Greece. Bernal surpasses this paradox by using historical analogy to establish his case. During the spreading and territorial expanding of a nomadic population, that population transfers the civilization of countries it conquered. In the 4th and 5th century BC the arrival of the Huns in Western Europe resulted in the spreading of gothic cultural elements, not the Mongol ones. Also the invasion of the Normans in 1066 in England transferred the French culture to England, rather than the Viking culture which was the initial origin of the Normans. Something similar happened with the Hyksos, who transferred the Egyptian cultural practices. Here Bernal seems to be forgetting that the Egyptians hated the Hyksos as intruders and oppressors. Also that the Hyksos were Semites with a different civilization and that between the two groups there was fierce confrontation that led to the final banishment of the Hyksos from Egypt.

The special characteristics of the Greek civilization thus come from the mass influence resulting from the intruding African-Semitic groups. This fact was saved in the traditions of Greeks speaking of heroes from the East and Egypt, in the narration of Plato for Timaeus, references to the ancient Egyptian wisdom, as well as the names of the gods that are mostly of Egyptian origin.

But how is it that this supposed historical reality, that the ancient Greeks themselves acknowledged, was ignored? Was there a lack of scientific research and ignorance or deliberate suppression and lack of evidence? Bernal believes the second. Here enters the Aryan Model for the origin of the ancient Greek civilization. The forming of the Aryan model in the 19th century rejected the Semitic and Egyptian contribution in the forming of the Greek world for racial and anti-semitic reasons. The German philhellene scholars that established the Indo-European theory with their studies rejected all eastern involvement, because according to Bernal, they were moved by racist and Euro-centered motives. Evolving this opinion further, Bernal concludes that “Philhellenism always had Aryan and racist connections”. (Black Athena vol. I,291). He reaches to the point of accusing European scholars of the 19th century for racial prejudice against the Turks, as far as the Greek revolution was concerned, since they defended the Greeks –an ideal European group according to Bernal- against the Asian Turks. It was not by chance that the Black Athena was deified in Turkey from the local historians and a friendly review is hosted in the official web page of the Turkish Foreign Office. (, article by Orhan Kologlou)

The conscious devaluation and depreciation of the eastern civilization has brought according to Bernal a twisting of historical elements. The purpose of this (so far) two-tome book aims, as the writer himself suggests, “to decrease the European cultural arrogance (Time magazine 23/7/1991). It is a working with clear ideological origins and conscious political purposes.

The first dynamic response to the historical theories of Afrocentrism came from Mary Lefkowitz, a Professor of Classical Studies in the Wellesley College of Massachusetts. With a series of publications, articles, reviews and replies to the American and European press as well as the Internet, Lefkowitz disproved with perfectly structured arguments the positions of afrocentrists and of Bernal for the origins of the ancient Greek civilization.

Moreover Lefkowitz published two books for the whole subject in 1996. The first (Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History, Basic Books 1996) is her detailed review and critical investigation of various positions of afrocentrist writers and simultaneously a historical documentation of real date. In the second work (Black Athena Revisited, The University of North Carolina Press 1996) brings the scientific thoroughness of Lefkowitz and Guy MacLean Rogers and includes various scientific papers from researchers of various backgrounds, archaeologists, historians, linguists, anthropologists. The articles of this tome examine various claims of the Black Athena, rejecting them one at a time.

The impact of these two works has been catalytic for the discussion of afrocentrism in America. These studies highlighted the emptiness of the afrocentrist arguments and of Bernal, and they practically cleared the subject from the academic point of view. Despite all that, the afrocentrists return after their initial retreat. In 1999 the book of an American journalist named Richard Poe was published, called Black Spark, White Fire, underlying the essential contribution of the African civilizations in the development of the European civilization. Poe thinks that ancient Greece accepted a wide colonization of African groups which gave the initiation for cultural creativity. In the end of 2001 Martin Bernal came back with the collective tome Black Athena Writes Back (Duke University Press), where he tries to eliminate the points of various scientists from Black Athena Revisited and rekindle the interest for afrocentrism and its theories that were declining during the last 5 years.

The interpretation of the origin of afrocentrism.

The historical points of afrocentrism were developed as a reaction to two basic factors: the borderline position of the black population in the American society for decades, and the absence of a brightly recorded historical past. What afrocentrism really aims for is to seize the glory of the Greek civilization with indirect means.

It is common in the area of historiography, peoples and population groups that do not have a field of historical references, where they could go back to in order to confirm their confidence, to replace this lack of history with showing their own structured identities within other collectivities, recognized for their cultural contribution, like Hellenism. In our case the African American community has an indigenous disadvantage: it is historically hovering since their presence in America was the result of an adjacent commercial activity of the White Europeans and Arabs of Western Africa, called slavery.

More specifically, the historical and archaeological theories of afrocentrists and of Bernal, reverse consciously or unconsciously the interpreting scheme of cultural diffusionism from a supreme center. This scheme the afrocentrists reject officially as an ideological product of white colonialism and scientific anti-Semitism. They place ancient Egypt in the center of their scheme, since the Egyptian civilization was indeed a highly valued creation. Afrocentrist writers are not mentioned often, at least the wisest of them, in indigenous African civilizations such as the ones in Mali or Rhodesia because the absence of great historical leftovers does not make it easy for them to develop their theory for the African origin of civilization. On the contrary their efforts are focused on the usurpation of ancient Egypt, which is the real key in the whole debate about afrocentrism.

Were the ancient Egyptians black?

The whole discussion about whether or not the ancient Egyptians were black starts most likely from the confusion or a misreading of physical and cultural geography. Geographically speaking, Egypt belongs to the continent of Africa, but it does not belong there from the cultural point of view. There is no unified African civilization, only local displays. All of Northern Africa above the Sahara desert is culturally similar to the Mediterranean world and much less similar to Western and Central Africa. Before the investigation of racial consistency of ancient Egyptians, we should define that the term “black” does not completely relate to the opinions of ancient Greeks and Romans. As white peoples they would call any inhabitant of the Middle East or of Northern Africa that had even the slightest darker skin color as “black” “dark colored” “colored”. In any case the Greeks distinguished between the Egyptians and the Ethiopians (=people with dark look).

Today’s terminology suggests that the Negros (from latin niger) are blacks, and they historically come from the regions beneath the Sahara dessert. Already from the period of the Ancient Kingdom (3100-2270 BC) the blacks inhabited areas far away from Egypt, the area of Nubia (present day Soudan). The Nubians were indeed a black population and as such they are depicted in the Egyptian art. The Egyptians themselves are depicted as different from the Nubians and in contradistinction to them. The science of natural anthropology considers the ancient Egyptians a race of Mediterranean origin which appeared to have, in a considerable percentage, relativity with the white Indo-European nations. (Loring Brace in the collective tome Black Athena Revisited, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London 1996 and John Baker, Race, Oxford University Press 1974). There was an important percentage of the Egyptian population that resembled white characteristics.

The ancient Egyptian monuments give us many such indications. A mural from the period of the Ancient Kingdom depicts the daughter of Pharaoh Cheops queen Hetep-Heres B, having soft characteristics and blond hair. There are dozens of embalmed bodies widely known as mummies that preserve the Mediterranean anthropological characteristics. Mummies of important individuals, such as of Pharaoh Seti I (1306-1290 BC) have been described by experts to be of Mediterranean type. The case of the embalmed body of Ramses II is well known (exhibited in the Cairo Museum). This mummy has red hair and an anthropological type similar to findings in the European inland. In the same category belong the saved anthropological leftovers of most Pharaohs, especially of the older phases.

A differentiation in the anthropological material and in the yield of characteristics is observed with the declaration to the throne of the foreign dynasty of Nubian princes. In the 8th century BC the Egyptian state was invaded by Nubians, who established the 25th Dynasty (746-655 BC), with Tankhara as the first king. The Egyptians had conscience that they were a different people from their black southern neighbours. This can be also seen in the hieroglyph scriptures depicting the Nubians.

The conquest of Nubia from the Egyptians was complete in 1840 BC from Pharaoh Sesostris III. Sesostris constructed impressive forts in Nubia and in its borders with Egypt in order to defend his kingdom from a possible attack from the black Nubians. The offering column at Semmeh, raised by the Pharaoh characteristically reads “the south border was constructed in the 8th year by the glorious king of Upper and Lower Egypt Sesostris III, to avert any black trying to cross, from water or from land, on ship or any other flock of blacks. Excluded are the blacks coming to trade at Iken or passing through with permission.” (James H. Breasted, History of Egypt, London 1909, 69).

The ancient Egyptians where of Mediterranean origin, Nubians were blacks, as the historical data suggests. The black classical philosopher Frank Snowden urges the afrocentrist writers to study the Nubians as the first black civilization and not as the ancient Egyptians who were something else entirely. Bernal considers that Socrates was of African origin. As evidence he appeals the references of Plato’s and Xenophon’s students that he looked like a Satyr. Also some of the busts that were created after the death of Socrates picture him with a pug nose, wide nostrils and a big mouth, and all these are indications that he was black according to Bernal. In reality the ancient sculptures simply reproduced the ironic observations and the weird comments that spread back then for a man whose ideas attracted public attention. Besides, the ancient Greeks gave rug noses to both Ethiopians and the Scythes that inhabited Southern Russia. If Socrates or one of his ancestors had even slightly dark colored skin that wouldn’t escape the attention of his contemporaries, moreover the attention of the sophists or comedian Aristophanes who satirized Socrates mercilessly.

As far as the question of the anthropological type of queen Cleopatra is concerned, let it be reported that in all known depictions, sculptures and coins, Cleopatra has clearly Mediterranean characteristics. The dynasty of Ptolemy in Egypt had followed the tactic of endogamy while the Greek population kept its distance from the Egyptian residents. The afrocentrists consciously neglect that the dynasty of Ptolemy were princes of Greek origin, not Egyptian. The misconception about Cleopatra came most likely from the selective reading of Shakespeare’s play “Antony and Cleopatra”. The English poet calls Cleopatra tawny and black. However with these adjectives he does not refer to her origin. Shakespeare had relied on Plutarch’s Antony and knew that Cleopatra belonged to the Greek dynasty: “How good she is and worthy as a queen / born of king from a line of kings” (V. ii 326-27, translation by Vasilis Rotas). The adjective black given to her is due to the metaphorical figure of speech that Cleopatra had the sun as her lover while Antony was away.


Afrocentrism, as an ideological and political component, has a specific origin and use. In its current form it is not but a by-product of multicultural political correctness. These trends tend to abolish objectivity itself and the rational establishment of data. The past is relativized and made into a useful tool for anyone that wants to form a specific picture of history, to satisfy selfish political ambitions.



    Dna says ancient egyptians are black and they portrayed themselves as black. Please respond to the evidence sir

    You speak alot about afrocentrism in general but you offer no PROOF for what you say just arguments and broad general statements that are refuted by actual egyptologist. In fact your claim Egypt is not part of an African culture is easily refuted through the most basic google search.

    "Cultural Unity of Egypt With The Rest of Africa
    Diop found that in ancient Egypt there existed “African cultural commonalities” of matriarchy, totemism, divine kinship, and cosmology.”
    Through a study of circumcision and totemism, he offers detailed data on the cultural unity between Egypt and the rest of Africa. He noted: “Historians are in general agreement that the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Colchians, and people of the Southern Levant were among the only people on earth practicing circumcision, which confirms their cultural affiliations, if not their ethnic affiliation.”
    He added: “The Egyptian style of (adolescent) circumcision was different from how circumcision is practiced in other parts of the world, but similar to how it is practiced throughout the African continent.”

    You have criticised afro-centrism alot but you offer no PROOF to refute their points.

    "Linguistic Unity With Southern and Western Africa
    In a detailed study of languages, Diop illustrated the strength of the cultural ties between ancient Egypt and its African neighbors by comparing the Egyptian language with Wolof, a Senegalese language spoken in West Africa near the Atlantic Ocean.
    Diop clearly demonstrates that ancient Egyptian, modern Coptic of Egypt, and Wolof are related, with the latter two having their origin in the former.
    “The kinship between ancient Egyptian and the languages of Africa,” Diop wrote in the General History of Africa, “is not a hypothetical but a demonstrable fact which it is impossible for modern scholarship to thrust aside.”
    He believed the kinship to be genealogical, and he provided examples:
    In ancient Egyptian “kef” means “to grasp, to take a strip (of something)”; in Wolof it means “to seize a prey.”
    “Feh” means “go away” in ancient Egyptian; in Wolof it means “to rush off.”
    To further demonstrate similarity between the two languages, Diop also examined verb forms, demonstratives, and phonemes. The results, he found, showed little difference between the two."

    "DNA Evidence (BONUS)
    DNATribes, a genomics company that specializes in tracing individuals’ ancestry to certain global populations has recently subjected the published STRs profiles (DNA samples) of Pharaoh Tutankhamen and family to analysis. They report that the closest living relatives of the mummies are sub-Saharan Africans, especially those from Southern Africa and the Great Lakes region.
    The company also tested the STR profiles of Ramesses III and found that among present-day populations, Ramesses’ autosomal STR profile is most frequently found in the African Great Lakes region, where it is approximately 335.1 times as frequent as in the world as a whole."

    1. As regards Diop’s languages claims, there is a critisicm from Pr. Stephen Howe(Afrocentrism Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes, pages 178- 179) that we must consider it:

      The fundamental principle of historical linguistics is that all languages change over time, and so diverge increasingly from related languages. Thus the more differences there are between two neighbouring languages, the further back in time they must have diverged. But comparative linguistics cannot give us absolute elates: the rate of language change is not constant, and the 'original' splitting off of two languages from one another is always a process - a long-drawn-out one - rather than a single dateable event.
      Where the comparison is between a long-dead language and living ones, evidently enough, still further problems supervene (see. for example, Mokhtar 1981: 63).

      Attempts on statistical analysis have usually proceeded by drawing up lists of a few hundred basic words, which should be as little culturally loaded as possible and which therefore change only very slowly over time.
      Diop's list’s do not conform to these criteria.
      He makes no apparent attempt to formulate a systematic 'core' vocabulary or to distinguish between words with strong cultural, religious or ideological overtones and those without.
      The percentage of closely similar words from this basic list which two languages share provides an indicator of how closely related the languages are - with an ently on the list counting as positive only if form and sound are very similar and the meanings identical, and with the whole process having validity only if one already has strong reasons to think that the two languages share a common ancestor.
      Diop's listings, again fail to meet these criteria.


    Am I to believe all those pictures of black people or people who look black are not black?

    "Testimony of Classical Greek and Roman Historians
    Virtually all of the early Latin eyewitnesses described the ancient Egyptians as black-skinned with woolly hair. Several ancient Greek historians noted that Egyptians and Ethiopians had complexions that were “melanchroes,” which most scholars translate as black, while some scholars translate it as “dark” or “dark skinned.”
    Some of the most-often quoted historians are Diodorus Siculus and Herodotus.
    According to most translations, Herodotus wrote that a Greek oracle was known to be from Egypt because she was “black,” that the natives of the Nile region are “black with heat,’ and that Egyptians were “black skinned with woolly hair.”
    Diodorus Siculus wrote that the Ethiopians considered the Egyptians their colony.
    Lucian observes an Egyptian boy and notices that he is not merely black, but has thick lips.
    Appollodorus called Egypt the country of the black-footed ones.
    Aeschylus, a Greek poet, wrote that Egyptian seamen had “black limbs.”
    Gaston Maspero states that “by the almost unanimous testimony of ancient [Greek] historians, they [ancient Egyptians] belonged to the African race, which settled in Ethiopia.”

    Am I to believe the Historians in Greece and Rome were afro-centrics as well. Can you respond to this. Thank you.

    As for the cleopatra question she was not fully greek only on the father side but her mother is believe to be native. Based out of articles from the bbc news it appears her sister was black. And as you know there is already debate that the ancient greeks aren't white so cleopatra being greek is not sufficient proof that she was not black

    Many of the ancient greeks were indeed black

    Further you offer no motivation for why so many non-blacks like Bernal are trying to use afrocentrism. Although you do misuse the word.

    If you think Mali has an absence of historical records you are sorely mistaken, it has some of the largest historical records collection of any country on the planet. In fact the desert climate has done a very good job at preserving the books from the ancient period. But its not really the point. All the evidence seems to indicate the ancient egyptians were indeed black Africans. And that isn't because it is in africa or because of afrocentrism. I say this from viewing the dna evidence, the pictures, the tombs, the art, the culture and associations.

    In fact far more often we see pictures like this of black egyptian pharaohs killing light or pale yellow skin invaders

    So I will await for you to retest the mummies and prove that Zawi Hawass made mistakes in the dna result as did the other 3 dna labs and dna tribes.
    feel free to respond here or respond over at

  3. Dear Hernanday you put a lot of issues(DNA, pottery, ancient testimonies e.t.c. )

    I will start withe the DNA issue.
    Contamination from handling and intrusion from microbes create obstacles to the recovery of Ancient DNA.
    [Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt by Kathryn A. Bard, Steven Blake Shubert pages 278-279]

    Consequently most DNA studies have been carried out on modern Egyptian populations with the intent of learning about the influences of historical migrations on the population of Egypt.
    [Keita & Boyce, S.O.Y.; Boyce, A. J. (Anthony J.) (June 2009). "Genetics, Egypt, and History: Interpreting Geographical Patterns of Y Chromosome Variation". History in Africa 32 (1): 221]
    [Keita (2005), S.O.Y. (2005). "Y-Chromosome Variation in Egypt". African Archaeological Review 22 (2): 61]
    [Keita, S.O.Y. (2005). "History in the Interpretation of the Pattern of p49a,f TaqI RFLP Y-Chromosome Variation in Egypt". American Journal of Human Biology 17 (5): 559–67]
    [Shomarka Keita: What genetics can tell us]

    In general, various DNA studies have found that the gene frequencies of modern North African populations are intermediate between those of the Near East, southern Europe and Sub Saharan Africa,[Cavalli-Sforza, L.L., P. Menozzi, and A. Piazza. 1994. The History and Geography of Human Genes. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 169-174]

    Last source is the magnificent book of Lefkowitz & Rogers (Black Athena Revised) that answers many of your questions as regards the race of the ancient Egyptians.

    1. The issue is we have over a dozen mummies dna tested, all coming back as black africans... that seems beyond contamination? Am I to believe that all of the samples were contaminated when many were tested multiple times? Further how do you explain that there were very few black people involved in the sampling and in some there were none?

      I agree modern Egyptians are an admixture of whitess and Africans. But even Lefkowitz says that the Ancient Egyptians were black which is why I find it confusing you referenced me to her given your position.

      "Mary Lefkowitz says the Egypt was peopled by people from sub-Saharan Africa, not Caucasoids from the north. Recent work on skeletons and dna Suggest that the people who settled in the Nile Valley like all of humankind came from somewhere south of the Sahara; they were not (as some nineteeth-century scholars has supposed invaders from the North...." Mary Lefkowitz (1997) Not Out of Africa:. Pg 242"

      "....early Nile Valley populations can be identified as part of an African lineage." The author goes on to describe that the Ancient Egyptian exhibited physical characteristics in the range of variation for ancient and modern indigenous peoples of the Sahara and tropical Africa and that " In general, the inhabitants of Egypt and Nubia had the greatest biological affinity to people of the Sahara and more southerly areas. (Nancy C. Lovell, " Egyptians physical anthropology of, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, 1999) pp 328-332). I cite Lovell because this is who Lefkowitz cites as her a reliable source.

      In black Athena revisited, Lefkowitz finds similarities between Egyptians and black Sudanics and recommends the work of conservative anthropologist Nancy Lovell for more research on the subject. p 105-106.

      From what I've read of Lefkowitz she has argued the ancient greeks were not black but the ancient egyptians were black.

      Further Keita seems to support her position

      Lefkowitz cites Keita 1993 in Not Out of Africa. Keita on the Jebel Moya studies found the data grouped more with black Africans than Middle Easterners or Europeans: "Egyptian groups showed less overall affinity to Palestinian and Byzantine remains than to other African series, especially sudanese." S.O.Y. Keita, "Studies and comments on Ancient Egyptian Biological Relations." History in Africa 20 (1993) 129-154

      Would you be good enough to respond to my questions. Thank you sir.

    2. Pr . Lefkowitz doesnt mention that "the Egypt was peopled by people from sub-Saharan Africa, not Caucasoids from the north" in the quote that you post it. She said...." 13. Origins of the Egyptians. Recent work on skeletons and DNA suggests that the people who settled in the Nile valley, like all of humankind, came from somewhere south of the Sahara; they were not (as some nineteenthcentury scholars had supposed) invaders from the north. "

      Where do you find the first quote?

      Second, the book of Lefkowitz & Rogers (Black Athena Revised, page 104), clear concluded that the "Ancient Egyptians were Mediterranean peoples, neither Sub-Saharan blacks nor Caucasian whites but peoples whose skin was adapted for life in a subtropical desert environment. Ancient Egypt was a melting pot; peoples of different ethnic identities migrated into the Nile Valley at different times in its prehistory and history."

      I hope we make it this clear. In the book there three chapters that anylyzed the issue of the origin of the ancient Egyptians.

    3. Pr . Lefkowitz doesnt claim also "similarities between Egyptians and black Sudanics and recommends the work of conservative anthropologist Nancy Lovell for more research on the subject." in the Black Athena Revised and pages 105-106.

      The pages that you mentioned , written from Kathryn A. Bard and not from Pr . Lefkowitz.
      As regards your claim, Pr Bard is clear:
      "Two problems, however, hinder such studies.
      First, graves in Egypt have been robbed since prehistoric times. Intact tombs, such as Tutankhamen's, are the great exception, and even his tomb had been penetrated twice in antiquity by robbers.
      Second, many skeletons excavated by earlier archaeologists working in Egypt were either not kept, or have been stored so poorly that today they are in very bad condition

    4. It is in her book.

      The problem with contamination theory is you have to be able to prove there was some west and central african guy contaminating the results. As far as I know all of the dna were performed by white people with the exception of hawass who himself is egyptian.

    5. So if Mediterraneans are not white am I to to believe people like me from the Mediterranean are not white?
      "Such a study suggest closer genetic affinity between peoples in Egypt and the North Sudan, which were close geographically and are known to have had considerable cultural contact throughout prehistory and pharaonic history"
      Do you not find it problematic that she claims the ancient Egyptians are closest to black non-Mediterranean Africans but then turns around and classified them as neither white nor black?

    6. Why are you insist to repeat arguments when the writer of the article is clear why these racial studies are problematic?
      I gave you the reason. Please step forward.

  4. Dear Hernanday you claim that "many of the ancient greeks were indeed black", and you post it some ancient Greek paintings, fresco e.t.c.
    It is obviously you are trapped in the afrocentric pseudoscience since you ignore the so called "Black-figure pottery painting".
    This kind of painting was one of the styles of painting on antique Greek vases.
    More in...

    The black figures are NOT meant to depict black people. The subjects are primarily from Greek mythology and are meant to represent Greeks but in a silhouette form.

  5. I do not ignore the so called Black figure Pottery painting, if you read the entire post, you'd see that I clearly acknowledge and explain why it is not plausible explanation. I suggest you have a 2nd look. How do you explain the appearance of white figures on the black figure pottery?

    Also one of your sources, the met museum actually acknowledges that the figures I show were black greeks.

    How do you explain away the dna evidence?

    PS. lets keep name calling to a minimum and have a civilized intelligent discussion between adults.

    1. 1-The wiki link, gives answers to the first question.

      2-Where met museum speaks for black Greeks? Give me please the exactly sentence

      3-I gave you my response as regards the DNA. I repost it: Contamination from handling and intrusion from microbes create obstacles to the recovery of Ancient DNA.
      [Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt by Kathryn A. Bard, Steven Blake Shubert pages 278-279]

    2. Arrrh. I type out a long and complete response now its all gone
      1. Wiki doesn't answer the question from what I saw, could you be more specific preferably quote from where.
      Africans in Ancient Greek Art (I first learned of this theory when seeing this exhibit)

      "Tales of Ethiopia as a mythical land at the farthest edges of the earth are recorded in some of the earliest Greek literature of the eighth century B.C., including the epic poems of Homer. Greek gods and heroes, like Menelaos, were believed to have visited this place on the fringes of the known world. However, long before Homer, the seafaring civilization of Bronze Age Crete, known today as Minoan, established trade connections with Egypt. The Minoans may have first come into contact with Africans at Thebes, during the periodic bearing of tribute to the pharaoh. In fact, paintings in the tomb of Rekhmire, dated to the fourteenth century B.C., depict African and Aegean peoples, most likely Nubians and Minoans. "

      "During the eighth and seventh centuries B.C., the Greeks renewed contacts with the northern periphery of Africa. They established settlements and trading posts along the Nile River and at Cyrene on the northern coast of Africa. Already at Naukratis, the earliest and most important of the trading posts in Africa, Greeks were certainly in contact with Africans. It is
      likely that images of Africans, if not Africans themselves, began to reappear in the Aegean. In the seventh and early sixth centuries B.C., Greek mercenaries from Ionia and Caria served
      under the Egyptian pharaohs Psametikus I and II."

      "All black Africans were known as Ethiopians to the ancient Greeks, as the fifth-century B.C. historian Herodotus tells us, and their iconography was narrowly defined by Greek artists
      in the Archaic (ca. 700–480 B.C.) and Classical (ca. 480–323 B.C.) periods, black skin color being the primary identifying physical characteristic. It is recorded that Ethiopians were among King Xerxes' troops when Persia invaded Greece in 480 B.C. Thus, the Greeks would have come into contact with large numbers of Africans at this time. Nonetheless, most ancient Greeks had only a vague understanding of African geography. They believed that the land of the Ethiopians was located south of Egypt. In Greek mythology, the pygmies were the African race that lived furthest south on the fringes of the known world, where they engaged in mythic battles with cranes "

      "The black glaze central to Athenian vase painting was ideally suited for representing black skin, a consistent feature used to describe Ethiopians in ancient Greek literature as well. Ethiopians were featured in the tragic plays of Aeschylus, Sophokles, and Euripides; and preserved comic masks, as well as a number of vase paintings from this period, indicate that Ethiopians were also often cast in Greek comedies."

      Well into the fourth century B.C., Ethiopians were regularly featured in Greek vase painting, especially on the highly decorative red-figure vases produced by the Greek colonies in
      southern Italy (50.11.4). One type shows an Ethiopian being attacked by a crocodile, most likely an allusion to Egypt and the Nile River. Depictions of Ethiopians in scenes of everyday life are rare at this time, although one tomb painting from a Greek cemetery near Paestum in southern Italy shows an Ethiopian and a Greek in a boxing competition.

      "With the establishment of the Ptolemaic dynasty and Macedonian rule in Egypt, after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., came an increased
      knowledge of Nubia (in modern Sudan), the neighboring kingdom along the lower Nile ruled by kings who resided in the capital cities of Napata and later Meroe. Cosmopolitan metropolises,

    3. ....
      including Alexandria in the Nile Delta, became centers where significant Greek and African populations lived together."

      "With the establishment of the Ptolemaic dynasty and Macedonian rule in Egypt, after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., came an increased
      knowledge of Nubia (in modern Sudan), the neighboring kingdom along the lower Nile ruled by kings who resided in the capital cities of Napata and later Meroe. Cosmopolitan metropolises,
      including Alexandria in the Nile Delta, became centers where significant Greek and African populations lived together."

      "Large-scale portraits of Ethiopians made by Greek artists appear for the first time in the Hellenistic period and high-quality works, such as images on gold jewelry and fine bronze
      statuettes, are tangible evidence of the integration of Africans into various levels of Greek society."

      Hemingway, Sean and Colette Hemingway. "Africans in Ancient Greek Art". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (January 2008)

      3. I read your response but it was not.... very compelling perhaps. Contamination from handling seems unlikely in such a broad sample of ancient sources. For one not all of them are coming back as the same african haplogroup. Some are central african, some are southern african, and some are west africans, and a few great lakes african. So it would mean you have 5-6 different african people from different regions contaminating the source. This is difficult to believe because almost no black people worked on these projects. If any contamination, one would expect it to be showing northern or north west european as that is who is usually conducting the test and working the labs (or sometiimes chinese/east asian).

      I do agree intrusion from microbes makes recovery of ancient dna more difficult but it is not overly difficult in fact it is done quiet commonly and microbes cannot change the dna of a source from one group to another only contamination could but then you'd get 2 DNA samples not just 1. The odds of getting 12 contamination from over 4-5 different regions with the

    4. 1-"Women’s skin is always indicated with a white opaque color, which is also frequently used for details such as individual horses, clothing or ornaments. "
      2-Met museum speaking for "Africans in Ancient Greek art" and not for "black Greeks".

  6. 1. But the blog shows clear examples of where this is contradicted in the actual greek art. It showed black women and white men
    2. Re-read the quotes. ie "tangible evidence of the integration of Africans into various levels of Greek society"

    "The black glaze central to Athenian vase painting was ideally suited for representing black skin, a consistent feature used to describe Ethiopians in ancient Greek literature as well. Ethiopians were featured in the tragic plays of Aeschylus, Sophokles, and Euripides; and preserved comic masks, as well as a number of vase paintings from this period, indicate that Ethiopians were also often cast in Greek comedies."

    "y Greek artists
    in the Archaic (ca. 700–480 B.C.) and Classical (ca. 480–323 B.C.) periods, black skin color being the primary identifying physical characteristic. It is recorded that Ethiopians were among King Xerxes' troops when Persia invaded Greece in 480 B.C. Thus, the Greeks would have come into contact with large numbers of Africans at this time."

    This is not just people being portrayed in art. In fact it states quiet clearly that black color was used by greek artist to identify african peoples. It also states the black vase was suited for showing their black skin and that they were featured in the plays and there is tangible evidence of Ethiopians into VARIOUS levels of Greek society. They also state there were a large number of Africans in Greece

    "During the eighth and seventh centuries B.C., the Greeks renewed contacts with the northern periphery of Africa....It is
    likely that images of Africans, if not Africans themselves, began to reappear in the Aegean."

    So if Africans are reappearing in the Aegean around the 8th and 7th century what does that tell you? They were there before.

    "While scenes related to Ethiopians in mythology became less common, many more types occurred that suggest they constituted a larger minority element in the population of the Hellenistic world than the preceding period"

    How large is a large minority, well that is up for interpretation I'd suppose but it seems clear there were a large amount of Ethiopians in Ancient Greece. Enough that it cannot merely be dismissed as a political opinion made simply to draw the ire of some of us who are interested in Hellenistic civilization but rather should be discussed and explored.