The Ethnicity of the Ancient Egyptians

The Ethnicity of the Ancient Egyptians
Author(s): Herbert J. Foster
Source: Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Dec., 1974), pp. 175-191
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
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THE ETHNICITY OF THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS HERBERT J. FOSTER Department of History Staten Island Community College A persistent historical misconception has been that Black people have developed no important civilizations, nor have they made any significant contributions to world culture. The history of Black people since they arrived in the New World, as well as their experiences in Africa, has been treated in this manner. Until recently, the history of Africa has been written as part of the African slave trade and European imperial expansion into the continent during the nineteenth century. Hugh Trevor-Roper (1965: 1), Regius Professor of History at Oxford University, wrote: Undergraduates, seduced as always, by the changing breath of journalistic fashion, demand that they should be taught the history of black Africa. Perhaps in the future there will be some African history to teach. But at the present there is none, or very little: there is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness…. Men existed even in dark countries and dark centuries, but to study their history would be to amuse ourselves with the unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes in picturesque but irrelevant corners of the globe. JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES, Vol. 5 No. 2, December 1974 ?1974 Sage Publications, Inc. [175]This content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
[1761 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / DECEMBER 1974 Comments of European colonial administrators in Africa also reflected this misconception of the African past. Basil Davidson (1959: ix) has noted that in 1958 Sir Arthur Kirby, Commissioner for British East Africa in London, told the Torquay Branch of the Overseas League that “in the last sixty years. . . East Africa has developed from a completely primitive country, in many ways more backward than the Stone Age.” The former British colonial governor of Kenya, Phillip Mitchell (1968: 3), declared: “The forty-two years I have spent in Africa . . . cover a large part of the history of sub-Saharan Africa, for it can hardly be said to extend much further back than about 1870.” Fortunately, in recent years, many of these misconcep- tions have been corrected. Numerous historians have written extensively on the great precolonial Black kingdoms of Africa, some of which originated and flourished earlier than the medieval kingdoms of Europe. However, historical controversy still centers upon the question of the ethnicity of the ancient Egyptians who developed one of the world’s earliest centers of civilization. The question is also sympto- matic of the nature of race relations at given points in history; that is, it has been interpreted in accordance with the changing status of Black people. The real issue in this debate is not merely a matter of whether the ancient Egyptians weie white or black, but that African Blacks were well assimilated into Egyptian society, and as such played a significant role in the development of this great cradle of Western civilization. The controversy over the ethnicity of the ancient Egyp- tians centers on conflicting theories regarding the identity of the Hamites, that Edith Sanders (1969) has termed the “Hamitic hypothesis.” In ancient times, the Hamites, who developed the civilization of Egypt, were considered Black. The word “Ham” appears for the first time in Genesis 5: 25. Noah cursed Ham for looking at him in his nakedness: And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.This content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
Foster / ANCIENT EGYPTIANS [ 1771 It is not until later that Ham is referred to as Black, for the Bible makes no mention of racial differences among man- kind. It is in the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of oral traditions of the Jews, that appeared in the sixth century A.D., that the sons of Ham are cursed by being black. Throughout the Middle Ages and to the end of the eighteenth century, the Negro was seen by Europeans as a descendant of Ham, bearing the stigma of Noah’s curse to be. forever, the white man’s drawer of water and hewer ot wood. However, in the early nineteenth century. after Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt, the Harnites began to be viewed as having been Caucasians. Napoleon’s archeologists were amazed by the grandeur of ancient Egyptian civilization, that preceded Greece and Rome by more than a millenium. Napoleon’s scientists concluded that the Egyptians were Negroid. This view had existed before the French expedition to Egypt. Sanders (1969: 525) relates that Count Volney, a French traveller to the Middle East. wrote in a well-known book, Travels thlro ugh Syria and Egypt 1 783-1 784-1 785, that was published in 1787: How we are astonished … when we reflect that to the race of Negroes, at present our slaves, and the objects of our contempt, we owe our arts, sciences, and . . . when we recollect that, in the midst of these nations, who call themselves the friends of liberty and humanity, the most barbarous of slaveries is justified. Baron V. Denon, a member of Napoleon’s expedition, wrote another well-known book, Travels ini Upper and Lower Egypt, published in 1803, in which lhe described the ancient Egyptian as Negroid, having “a broad and flat nose, very short, a large flattened mouth … thick lips, etc.” It was at this point that Egypt became the focus of much scientific and lay interest, the result of which was the appearance of many publications whose sole purpose was to prove that the Egyptians were not Black, and therefore capable of developing such a high civilization. During theThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
[1 781 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / DECEMBER 1974 eighteenth century, two separate theories of the origin of man appeared. The monogenists held that there was a unity to mankind, all of the races deriving from one parental stock. On the other hand, the polygenists argued that there was a separate creation of races, and each was endowed with its own language. Since the Egyptians, Ethiopians, Nubians, and other allied people spoke related languages, it was argued that they must have proceeded from the same parental stock. Furthermore, since these peoples were declared not to be Black by European travellers, it was concluded that they must have been colonists from Syria or Arabia Felix. The ancient writers, with the exception of Herodotus, had been silent on the Negroid physiognomy of the Egyptians, so it was argued that they were not Negroes. Herodotus, who had described the Egyptians as “black-skinned and woolly haired,” it was argued, was writing of them as such in comparison to the Greeks. The Western world was reaping immense profits from the African slave trade and slavery in the eighteenth century and was reluctant to view the Black slave as a brother. The image of Black people, according to Williams (1961) and Curtin ( 1964), deteriorated as their value as commodities increased. Sanders (1969: 524-525) argued that when Napoleon’s archeologists and scientists unearthed the splendid Egyptian civilization in 1798, their “discoveries were to revolutionize history’s view of the Egyptian and lay the basis for a new Hamitic myth.” The clergy spearheaded the new Hamitic concept early in the nineteenth century. Theologians could not reconcile the biblical explanation that Black people were descendants of the cursed Ham, and yet creators of a great civilization. Their dilemma was solved by a new interpretation that the Egyptians were descendants of Mizraim, a son of Ham. Since Noah had only cursed Canaan, it was his progeny alone that were fated to be drawers of water and hewers of wood. Ham and his Hamite descendants were freed of the curse. SandersThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
Foster / ANCI ENT EGYPTIANS [ 1 791 (1969: 526-527) concluded that in this way the Egyptians emerged as Caucasoid Hamites, uncursed and capable of creating high civilization. An American school of anthropology arose which at- tempted to prove scientifically that the Egyptians were Caucasians, far removed from the inferior Blacks. Perhaps this was because slavery was both still legal and profitable in the United States, and it was deemed necessary to justify and protect it. Sanders (1969: 526-527) relates how Morton in 1844 and Nott and Glidden in 1854 gathered, measured, interpreted, and described human crania. Morton concluded that the Egyptians were a Caucasian race indigenous to the Nile Valley.1 During the late nineteenth century, European explorers and travellers encountered a wide variety of physical types in Africa. Their ethnocentrism made them value those who looked more like themselves, and such were declared to be Hamitic, or of Hamitic descent, and endowed with the mythical superiority of Caucasians. John Hanning Speke (1964), more than any other European explorer, sowed the seed of the present Hamitic hypothesis. Unable to credit Black Africans with the complex political organization of Buganda, which he discovered, he attributed its “barbaric civilization” to a nomadic pastoralist race related to the Hamitic Galla. Thus as Sanders (1969: 528-529) has argued, the Hamites were seen as early culture bearers in Africa because of their innate intellectual superiority as members of the Caucasian race. This view had dual merit for European purposes. On one hand, it maintained the image of Black people as inferior beings. On the other, it justified European mediation to uplift them from barbarism. As the twentieth century opened, the Caucasoid-Hamite hypothesis was firmly established. Science confirmed theo- logical theory regarding the ethnicity of the Hamites. Racial “scientific” classification explained the confusing diversity ofThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
[1801 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / DECEMBER 1974 “Hamites.” by establishing a separate Hamitic branch of the Caucasian race. Historians began to compile histories of Africa with an often unconscious racial bias, accepting as indisputable proven fact that the Hamites were Caucasians. Many anthropologists also accepted the Hamitic hy- pothesis. C. G. Seligman (1930: 96) wrote in his famous Races of Africa: Apart from relatively late Semitic influence . .. the civilizations of Africa are the civilizations of the Hamites, its history the record of these peoples and of their interaction with the two other African stocks, the Negro and the Bushman, whether this influence was exerted by highly civilized Egyptians or by such wvider pastoralists as are represented at the present day by the Beja and Somali. The incoming Hamites were pastoral ‘Euro- peans’-arriving wave after wave-better armed as well as quicker witted than the dark agricultural Negroes. So persistent was Seligman’s statement of the Hamitic hypothesis that his book went through several editions and was reprinted in 1966 with few changes. Seligman attributed every “civilized” accomplishment in Africa to aliens, mainly of Hamitic origin. His Hamitic theory still persists in the writings of numerous anthropologists and historians, and follows this general line: Iron-working, drystone walling, rock-cut wells, irrigation systems, complex political organi- zation, and age-grade systems were all introduced to the Blacks by pastoral Hamites. For example, Huntingford (1966: 64-67) argued that the Hamites are a group broadly homogeneous in language and culture, that occupy a large part of northeast Africa in Ethiopia and Somaliland, who came to Africa from Arabia in Upper Paleolithic times. Huntingford wrote that they are quite distinct from Bushmen, Hunters, and Negroes, being Europoids without any Negroid physical characters except those acquired since their arrival in Africa through contact with Negroes…. The Hamites perhaps introduced political as well as social organization on a wider scale. Not only does the tribe exist,This content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
Foster / ANCIENT EGYPTIANS [1811 but it appears as a member of a group which we may fairly call a nation . . . In occupation the Hamites are strongly pastoral, with a fairly well developed form of agriculture including the use of the plough…. The Negroes are basically agricultural, with hoe culture, and few or no cattle. Sonia Cole (1963: 316-318) reiterated the Seligman theme in somewhat tempered fashion: People presumed to have come from the Horn of Africa and hence of Hamitic origin, the “Kushites” . . . were essentially pastoralists and introduced several new elements unknown to the Bantu tribes, who preceded and followed them, apparently being skilled builders in stone, road makers, and irrigators…. It should be borne in mind that the extent of the “Hamitic” influence in East Africa may have been exaggerated and that these people were almost certainly not responsible for all the features at one time attributed to them. The explanation of the origin and ethnicity of the pre-dynastic Egyptians offered by Robert July (1970: 13) also reflects the Seligman influence: The predynastic people of Egypt were Caucasoid hunters who may at various times have spread from the Arabian peninsula but who in any case gradually developed a sedentary existence on the edge of the Nile Valley where they added fishing to their hunting activities and where they began to grow cereal crops. A similar viewpoint (Oliver and Fage, 1962: 23-25) held that the Neolithic Revolution-the deliberate selection and cultivation of edible plants previously merely gathered or grubbed in their wild state, and the taming and breeding of certain animals which had previously run wild-first occurred in Southwest Asia as early as 8000 B.C. These techniques were spread to Egypt by Semitic people during the sixth millenium B.C. and were responsible for the emergence of a dense Caucasoid population in the Nile Valley. Oliver and Fage estimated that before the arrival of these Semitic immigrants the population in the Nile Valley was aboutThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
[1821 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / DECEMBER 1974 twenty thousand. Two millenia later, they estimated the population of the Old Kingdom to be three to six million. The agricultural revolution permitted populations to be expressed in terms of number of persons to the square mile rather than number of square miles to the person. Paul Bohannan (1964: 80-82), otherwise noted for under- standing anthropological accounts of African peoples, offered substantially the same explanation for the origin of Neolithic agriculture in Egypt. He wrote: “What happened in Egypt is that a strong Asian influence was stamped upon a basically African culture, giving rise to Egyptian civilization.” The revised 1971 edition, coauthored by Philip Curtin, gives the same explanation. Such interpretations have excluded Black people from part of their culture history and pictured them as lacking the intellectual genius to allow them in the past, present, or future to make any significant contributions to world civilization. The accounts of other scholars, who have attempted to correct the myth of the cultural enervation of Black people, stand in sharp contrast to these interpretations. The author of numerous books on Africa, Basil Davidson (1967: 43), argued that Black Africa’s influence on old Egypt was ”crucial,” in that Egypt was “the receiver still more than the giver…. Ancient Egypt was essentially an African colonization.” In another history of Africa, Davidson (1969: 21-22) wrote that “it now seems perfectly clear that the vast majority of pre-dynastic Egyptians were of continental African stock, and even of central-west Saharan origins.” In yet another work, Davidson (1959: 7-8) argued that the ancient ancestors of present-day Africans were an “important and perhaps dominant element” among the peoples who fathered early Egyptian civilization. In the same work, Davidson had this to say about the ethnicity of pre-dynastic Egyptians: An analysis of some eight hundred skulls from pre-dynastic Egypt-that is from the lower valley of the Nile before aboutThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
Foster / ANCIENT EGYPTIANS [1831 3000 B.C.-shows that at least a third of them were Negroes or ancestors of the Negroes whom we know; and this may well support the view . . . that remote ancestors of the Africans of today were an important and perhaps dominant element among populations which fathered the civilization of ancient Egypt. Davidson’s statement that Black Africans represented a large or dominant group among the Egyptians is corroborated by Randall-McIver and Thomson in 1905 in two of the most extensive and complete surveys of ancient Egyptian skeletal material ever made.2 One study of the early pre-dynastic period to the Fifth Dynasty reported that 24% of the males and 19.5% of the females were Negroes. The authors wrote: “In every character of which we have a measure they conform accurately to the Negro type.” In the second study, of the period extending from the Sixth to the Eighteenth Dynasties, they reported that of the specimens examined, about 20% of the males and 15% of the females were Negroes. If this can be considered a reliable sampling of the Egyptian population at the time, Black people represented a substantially larger group among the Egyptians than Ameri- can Blacks do in the United States today. The studies also showed that for both periods a considerable percentage of “intermediates” exhibited some Negroid traits. It is impor- tant to note that in the United States today the “inter- mediates” would also legally be Black. The point is that race mixing was so extensive in Egypt, that if the standard by which race is defined in the United States today were applied to ancient Egypt, many of the Egyptians would be classified as Black. We can also go back to Herodotus, the Greek historian who wrote so voluminously on his travels in the fifth century B.C., to determine the ethnicity of the ancient Egyptians. In Book II of his Histories, translated by Rawlinson (1952: 61), Herodotus twice described the Egyptians as Black. In the first passage, he wrote:This content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
[184] JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / DECEMBER 1974 The Dodonaeans called the women doves because they were foreigners, and seemed to them to make a noise like birds. After a while the dove spoke with a human voice, because the woman, whose foreign talk had previously sounded to them like the chattering of a bird, acquired the power of speaking what they could understand. For how can it be conceived possible that a dove should really speak with the voice of a man? Lastly, by calling the dove black the Dodonaeans indicated that the woman was an Egyptian. In the second passage (Rawlinson, 1952: 69), Herodotus wrote of the Colchians, and described them as an Egyptian race. .. . My own conjectures were founded, first, on the fact that they are black-skinned and have woolly hair, which certainly amounts to but little, since several nations are so too. In determining the ethnicity of the ancient Egyptians, it is important to note what several scholars have written about the early cultivators who began Neolithic agriculture along the Nile Valley. There is archeological evidence regarding the places from which these cultivators came and also of their ethnicity. This could well be an important clue to the ethnicity of the early Egyptians themselves. Most scholars believe that they followed the shrinking tributaries of the Nile from the central Sahara and from the Sudan as the Sahara wet phase ended. During the closing millenia of the Paleolithic period, there had been a wet phase in the Sahara, and another between approximately 5500 and 2500 B.C. The Sahara was well-watered and habitable for man, fauna, and flora. Caucasoids from the north, and Negroid peoples from the south established numerous settlements along the water- courses of the Sahara. The earliest Negroid settlement was at the site of modern Khartoum, dating as early as 6000 years ago, and referred to as Mesolithic Khartum. At about the same time, other Negroid people lived well to the west at Asselar, some 250 miles northeast of the present site of Timbuktu. Additional Negro sites have been discoveredThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
Foster / ANCIENT EGYPTIANS [185] between Khartoum and Asselar, notably in the Darfur area of the western Sudan. Robert July (1970: 11-12) wrote: “All in all, the evidence, though scanty, suggests a widely spread Negro fishing and hunting culture in the Sahara during Neolithic times..” James Wellard (1967) wrote that these people of the Sahara were “the black contemporaries of their white brothers to the north in the caves and forests of southern Europe.” The latter were the Aurignacians and Magdalenians of southern France and northeastern Spain. The Aurignacians were famous for rock engravings, and the Magdalenians for rock paintings, such as those found at Lascaux. A profusion of such cave art has also been found at sites in the Sahara, and in East and South Africa. Cole (1963: 223) speculated “that hunter-artists with essentially the same equipment and philosophy once extended from the Mediterranean to the Cape, ranging over the Sahara and the open plains of East Africa, but avoiding the dense forests of the Congo.” The earliest Egyptian Neolithic site is Fayum, dated at about 4500 B.C. A later Neolithic site is Esh Shaheinab, which was situated on the west bank of the Nile 30 miles north of Khartoum. According to A. J. Arkell, the excavator of this site, it existed at least by 3300 B.C., and perhaps as early as 4500 B.C. Arkell (1961: 29-34) argued that both the Fayum and the Khartoum area received influences fromn a dispersal area somewhere west of the Nile, an area that probably included Tibesti and Lake Wanyanga. Arkell also believes that Shaheinalb culture was closely associated with the Sahara because of the presence of beads made of green Amazon stone (microline felspar), the source of which is the Eghei Mountains, north of Tibesti. Amazon stone beads have also been found at Fayum, probably having been brought from Tibesti. In addition, dotted wavy-line pottery as in the oldest levels of Neolithic Khartoum, followed by burnished dotted wavy-line pottery exactly like that of Shaheinab has been found at Tibesti. This evidence led Arkell to assert thatThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
[1861 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / DECEMBER 1974 the Tibesti area was one of dispersal, and that with the increasing dessication in the western desert, people would tend to move eastward toward the Nile Valley, probably along the Ennedi route. John Wilson (1957: 20), the noted Egyptologist, has written that the dessication occurred first to the south, in the Sudan and Nubia, and in Upper Egypt, suggesting that roving food gatherers from the south followed the shrinking waters to the floodplain. Leonard Cottrell (1961: 16) also believes that the early cultivators were of southern origin. He wrote that it seems probable that the earliest inhabitants of the Nile Valley came from the south, passing up the coast of the Red Sea and entering Egypt through the Wadi Hamamat. The ancient Egyp- tians themselves believed that their ancestors came from the land of Punt, which is now called Somaliland. W.E.B. DuBois (1965: 100) also wrote that the early Egyptian cultivators may have come from the south. “The Negroids came as hunters and fishermen. Probably they came up from Nubia…. They were the Tasians, five thousand and more years ago; the people of the Fayum and the Marimde, the Badarians, settled folk, who hunted and fished but also cultivated crops.” It is, therefore, likely that the early Egyptian cultivators came from both the west and the south, following the shrinking tributaries of the Nile until they reached the floodplain and there began to cultivate grain in the rich alluvial soil with all the astonishing results for mankind. Judging from their places of origin, a sizable number of these migrants were Black Africans. Probably the best answer to the question of the ethnicity of the Egyptians is the manner in which they depicted themselves in their numerous works of art. Why would they paint themselves as brown or dark brown if that were not their color? The hair was sometimes represented as straight; perhaps more often curled and Negroid. Occasionally it wasThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
Foster / ANCIENT EGYPTIANS [1871 curly and hidden by wigs. They painted themselves usually as brown, sometimes as dark brown, sometimes reddish-brown. Often Egyptians, as well as non-Egyptians, were painted as yellow. A few were painted as white, representing some parts of North Africa and Europe. Writing in 1854, Nott and Glidden explained the Negroid admixture of the Egyptians as being a population which descended from numerous Negro slaves kept by the Egyptians in ancient times. However, Egyptian art works show Mongoloid, Negroid, and Cau- casoids held as slaves. It would seem that they did not have the modern conception of race. Their attitude toward people was based on cultural status, not color. Monuments and paintings show black, yellow, and white people in obeisance to their Egyptian conquerors. The evidence supports the conclusion of DuBois (1965: 106) that the Egyptians were Negroids, and not only that, but by tradition they believed themselves descended not from the whites or the yellows, but from the black people to the south. Thence they traced their origin, and toward the south in earlier days they turned the faces of their buried corpses. As time passed, the early Egyptians mingled with other infiltrating peoples and became a separate inbred people distinctly different than their neighbors. They were in continuous contact with the Nubians to the south in trade and war, finally conquering them, and then in the eighth century B.C. being conquered themselves by the Nubians or Kushites. Dr. D. Randall-MacIver wrote in 1905: The more we learn of Nubia and the Sudan, the more evident does it appear that what was most characteristic in the pre- dynastic culture of Egypt is due to intercourse with the interior of Africa and the immediate influence of that permanent Negro element which had been present in the population of southern Egypt from remotest times to our day. Thus far, our focus has mainly been the ethnicity of the predynastic Egyptians. There is also ample evidence of aThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
[1881 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / DECEMBER 1974 strong Negroid admixture in the families of the pharoahs during the dynastic period. Egypt had fallen into anarchy during the latter years of the long reign of Pepi II, and was divided into feudal baronies during the First Intermediate Period (2200-2050 B.C.). It is significant that Egypt was finally reunified by a southerner, who established himself on the throne as Menthuhotep I. According to the famous Egyptologist James Breasted (1946: 151), Menthuhotep made Thebes the capital of Egypt and began the period of Theban supremacy. Stanlake Samkange wrote that Menthu- hotep’s “culture and manners were those of Nubia to the south. The women depicted in the art of this period were black and had tatoos on their bodies.” Around 1770 B.C., Lower Egypt was invaded and con- quered by the Hyksos, an Asiatic people. However, Theban and Kushite princes remained independent and were allied with the Hyksos. John Hope Franklin (1969: 7-8) has written that during this turbulent period many northern Egyptians “fled to the upper Nile valley and mingled freely with Negroes, Ethiopians, of that region; and the result was that Egyptians became more Negroid than ever before.” Again it was a southerner who restored Egyptian inde- pendence, and drove out the Hyksos. Breasted (1946: 225) wrote that Ahmose I, “the first king of Manetho’s Eighteenth Dynasty, assumed the leadership of the Theban house, about 1580 B.C., and became the deliverer of Egypt from her foreign lords.” He also established the New Kingdom. Franklin (1969: 7) described Nefertari, the wife of Ahmose, as a Black woman “of great beauty, strong personality, and remarkable administrative ability” who contributed a de- cidedly Negroid tint to her royal descendants. According to DuBois (1965: 128-129), the descendants of Ahmose I were decidedly Negroid. The mulatto son of Ahmose I was Amenhotep I. Thutmose I came to the throne by marriage. His son, Thutmose II, ruled cojointly with his half sister Hatshepsut for two or three years. Then, until hisThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
Foster / ANCIENT EGYPTIANS [189] death, Thutmose II ruled cojointly with his son, Thutmose III. At this point, Hatshepsut assumed full power as regent for Thutmose III until her death in 1468 B.C. Thutmose III was an aggressive ruler who extended Egyptian power over Nubia to the south and Palestine and Syria to the east. His empire extended from Napata to the Tigris-Euphrates. DuBois wrote, “His granite head in the British Museum has distinct Negro features.” His grandson, Thutmose IV, accord- ing to DuBois, “married a black woman, Mutemua,” and their son, Amenhotep III, who succeeded in about 1400 B.C., “inherited his mother’s Negroid features and married the brilliant Taia.” J. A. Rogers (1942-1944: 42, 54) quotes Wilkinson (1878) as stating that the features of Amenhotep III have “more in common with the Negro than those of any other pharoah.” Anna Graves (1943: xix) wrote that his queen Taia, “judging from her portrait bust in the Berlin Gallery … may have been nearly Nubian.” The son of Amehotep III and Taia was Akhenaton IV (1369-1353 B.C.), who later took the name of Akhenaton. DuBois wrote that although he was “less Negroid than his mother he was more of the mulatto type than his father, and the portrait busts of his daughters show them all to be beautiful quadroons.” Akhenaton brought a profound, though brief, revolution in Egyptian religion, by introducing new concepts of monothe- ism, and naturalism, which Breasted (1959: 319-343) has shown to have had important influences on Judaism. Egyptologists most often discuss Egypt’s relations with Black Africans only in regard to what has been termed the “Nubian” or “Ethiopian Dynasty” when Egypt came under the dominion of Kush in the middle of the eighth century. A succession of Kushite kings-Kashta, Piankhi, Shabaka, Sha- bataka, Taharka, and Tanwetamani-conquered and ruled Egypt until the Assyrian conquest in 666 B.C. However, Kushite rule was merely the climax of long centuries of cultural contact between Egypt and the Sudan in which Egypt was as much a beneficiary as a benefactor. It has beenThis content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
[1901 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / DECEMBER 1974 shown that pre-dynastic Egyptian civilization was created by Negroid peoples from the west and the south who followed the shrinking tributaries of the Nile to their source. It is also evident that the Negroid strain was strong in the families of the royal dynasties. Those who find this evidence disputable must still concede that if the Egyptians were not Black Africans, there can be no doubt that such people were a very important element in the population. In the final analysis, the real issue is not merely whether the Egyptians were black or white, but that the Black Africans shared in the development of this great cradle of Western civilization. To say less would deny Black people in Africa and the Diaspora an import part of their culture history. NOTES 1. Samuel George Morton was an American physician and professor of anatomy who wrote several books on human crania, among which were Crania Americana and Crania Egyptica (1844). Joseph Clark Nott and George R. Glidden co-authored Types of Mankind (1854). Nott was an American scientist and Glidden was an American vice consul in Cairo who supplied Dr. Morton with Egyptian skulls. 2. Arthur Thomson was professor of anatomy at Oxford University and David Randall-McIver was a member of the Department of Egyptology at the same institution. A copy of Ancient Races of the Thebaid is located at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. REFERENCES ARKELL, A. J. (1961) A History of the Sudan: From the Earliest Times to 1821. London: Athlone. BOHANNAN, P. (1964) Africa and Africans. Garden City, N.Y.: Natural History Press. BREASTED, J. A. (1959) Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt. New York: Harper & Row. —(1946) A History of Egypt. New York: Charles Scriber’s. COLE, S. (1963) The Prehistory of East Africa. New York: Macmillan.This content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTCAll use subject to
Foster / ANCIENT EGYPTIANS [1911 COTTRELL, L. (1961) The Lost Pharoahs. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. CURTIN, P. D. (1964) Image of Africa. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press. DAVIDSON, B. (1969) Africa in History. New York: Macmillan. —(1967) The African Past. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. —(1959) The Lost Cities of Africa. Boston: Little, Brown. DuBOIS, W.E.B. (1965) The World and Africa. New York: International Publishers. FRANKLIN, J. H. (1969) From Slavery to Freedom. New York: Vintage. GRAVES, A. (1943) Benvenuto Cellini Had No Prejudice Against Bronze. Baltimore: Waverly. HUNTINGFORD, G.W.B. (1966) “The peopling of the interior of Africa by its modern inhabitants,” pp. 58-93 in R. Oliver and G. Mathew (eds.) History of East Africa. Oxford: Clarendon. JULY, R. (1970) A History of the African People. New York: Charles Scribner’s. MITCHELL, P. (1968) “Africa and the West in historical perspective,” in G. C. Haines (ed.) Africa Today. New York: Greenwood. OLIVER, R. and J. D. FAGE (1962) A Short History of Africa. Baltimore: Penguin. RAWLINSON, G. [trans.] (1952) The History of Herodotus. Chicago: Encyclo- paedia Britannica. ROGERS, J. A. (1942-1944) Sex and Race. New York. SANDERS, E. (1969) “The Hamitic hypothesis.” J. of African History. 10, 4: 521-532. SELIGMAN, C. G. (1930) Races of Africa. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. SPEKE, J. H. (1964) Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. New York. THOMSON, A. and D. RANDALL-MacIVER (1905) Ancient Races in the Thebaid. London. TREVER-ROPER, H. (1965) The Rise of Christian Europe. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. WELLARD, J. (1967) Lost Worlds of Africa. New York: E. P. Dutton. WILKINSON, J. G. (1878) The Ancient Egyptians. London. WILLIAMS, E. (1961) Capitalism and Slavery. New York: Russell & Russell. WILSON, J. (1957) The Burden of Egypt. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.This content downloaded from on Sun, 17 Jun 2018 19:48:23 UTC
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