Littering the blargh-o-sphere.
Littering the blargh-o-sphere.
"There are many different theories about the ethnicity of the Egyptian people…" - dir. Ridley Scott
No, there are not. This is the trick; the escape hatch: feigned ignorance. Hide behind shrugged shoulders and say “we don’t know, so I can do anything. But I won’t do ‘anything’ will I? No, I’ll do the exact, same, thing, as all whitewashers before me.”
- Herodotus said Egyptians had black skin and woolly hair, which is how he said the Ethiopians looked too.
- Aristotle called both the Ethiopians and Egyptians black.
- The Bible calls both the Ethiopians and Egyptians sons of Ham.
- The Egyptians saw themselves as belonging to their own race, different from blacks to the south – but also different from all their other neighbours. On the other hand:
- They called themselves kemet - “black”, though some say it just means they are from the land of black soil (the Nile).
Cheikh Anta Diop (29 December 1923 – 7 February 1986) was a historian, anthropologist, physicist, and politician who studied the human race’s origins and pre-colonial African culture. Cheikh Anta Diop University, in Dakar, Senegal, is named after him.
The Egyptians as a Black population
One of Diop’s most controversial issues centers on the definition of who is a true Black person. Diop insisted on a broad interpretation similar to that used in classifying European populations as white.
He accused his critics of having used the narrowest possible definition of “Blacks” in order to differentiate various African groups such as Nubians into a European or Caucasoid racial zone. Under the “true negro” approach, Diop contended that those peoples who did not meet the stereotypical classification were attributed to mixture with outside peoples, or were split off and assigned to Caucasoid clusters.
He also claimed that opponents were hypocritical in stating that the race of Egyptians was not important to define, but they did not hesitate to introduce race under new guises. For instance, Diop suggested that the uses of terminology like “Mediterranean” or “Middle Eastern”, or statistically classifying all who did not meet the “true” Black stereotype as some other race, were all attempts to use race to differentiate among African peoples.
Diop’s presentation of his concepts at the Cairo UNESCO symposium on “The peopling of ancient Egypt and the deciphering of the Meroitic script”, in 1974, exposed the inconsistencies and contradictions in the way African data was handled. This exposure remains a hallmark of Diop’s contribution.
Physical variability of the African people
Diop consistently held that Africans could not be pigeonholed into a rigid type that existed somewhere south of the Sahara, but they varied widely in skin color, facial shape, hair type, height, and a number of additional factors, just like other human populations. In his “Evolution of the Negro World” in Présence Africaine(1964), Diop castigated European scholars who posited a separate evolution of various types of humankind and denied the African origin of homo sapiens.
“But it is only the most gratuitous theory that considers the Dinka, the Nouer and the Masai, among others, to be Caucasoids. What if an African ethnologist were to persist in recognizing as white-only the blond, blue-eyed Scandinavians, and systematically refused membership to the remaining Europeans, and Mediterraneans in particular—the French, Italians, Greek, Spanish, and Portuguese? Just as the inhabitants of Scandinavia and the Mediterranean countries must be considered as two extreme poles of the same anthropological reality, so should the Negroes of East and West Africa be considered as the two extremes in the reality of the Negro world. To say that a Shillouk, a Dinka, or a Nouer is a Caucasoid is for an African as devoid of sense and scientific interest as would be, to a European, an attitude that maintained that a Greek or a Latin were not of the same race ”
Critics of Diop cite a 1993 study that found the ancient Egyptians to be more related to North African, Somalian, European, Nubian and, more remotely, Indian populations, than to Sub-Saharan Africans. Diop always maintained that Somalians, Nubians, Ethiopians and Egyptians were all part of a related range of African peoples in the Nilotic zone that also included peoples of the Sudan and parts of the Sahara. He said that their cultural, genetic and material links could not be defined away or separated into a regrouped set of racial clusters.Critics of this study in turn hold that it achieves its results by manipulation of data clusters and analysis categories, casting a wide net to achieve generic, general statistical similarities with populations such as Europeans and Indians. At the same time, the statistical net is cast much more narrowly in the case of ‘blacks’, carefully defining them as an extreme type south of the Sahara and excluding related populations like Somalians, Nubians and Ethiopians,as well as the ancient Badarians, a key indigenous group.
It is held by Keita et al. that when the data are looked at in toto, without the clustering manipulation and selective exclusions above, then a more accurate and realistic picture emerges of African diversity. For example, ancient Egyptian matches with Indians and Europeans are generic in nature (due to the broad categories used for matching purposes with these populations) and are not due to gene flow. Ancient Egyptians such as the Badarians show greater statistical affinities to tropical African types and are not identical to Europeans. As regards the key Badarian group, a 2005 study by anthropologist S. O. Y. Keita of Badarian crania in predynastic upper Egypt found that the predynastic Badarian series clusters much closer with the tropical African series than European samples.
Diop’s theory on variability is also supported by a number of scholars mapping human genes using modern DNA analysis. This has shown that most of human genetic variation (some 85–90%) occurs within localized population groups, and that race only can account for 6–10% of the variation. Arbitrarily classifying Maasai, Ethiopians, Shillouk, Nubians, etc., as Caucasian is thus problematic, since all these peoples are northeast African populations and show normal variation well within the 85–90% specified by DNA analysis. Modern physical anthropologists also question splitting of peoples into racial zones. They hold that such splitting is arbitrary insertion of data into pre-determined pigeonholes and the selective grouping of samples.