Statue of Queen Tiye: One of the most influential women of Ancient Egypt. The Great Royal Wife of the ancient Egyptian equivalent to Louis XIV – Amenhotep III.

Ancient Egyptian race controversy and why the notion of White Ancient Egyptians is a joke.

Egyptologists, writers, scholars, and others, have argued the race of the ancient Egyptians since at least the 1970’s. Some today believe they were Sub-Saharan Africans, Mainstream scholars reject the notion that Egypt was a white or black civilization; they maintain that, despite the phenotypic diversity of Ancient and present day Egyptians, applying modern notions of black or white races to ancient Egypt is anachronistic.

Statue of Queen Tiye: One of the most influential women of Ancient Egypt.
The Great Royal Wife of the ancient Egyptian equivalent to Louis XIV – Amenhotep III. 

The earliest examples of disagreement regarding the race of the ancient Egyptians occurred in the work of Europeans and Americans early in the 19th century. One early example of such an attempt was an article published in The New-England Magazine of October 1833, where the authors dispute a claim that “Herodotus was given as authority for their being negroes.” They point out with reference to tomb paintings: “It may be observed that the complexion of the men is invariably red, that of the women yellow; but neither of them can be said to have anything in their physiognomy at all resembling the Negro countenance.”

In the 18th century, Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de Volney, wrote “The Copts are the proper representatives of the Ancient Egyptians” due to their “jaundiced and fumed skin, which is neither Greek, Negro nor Arab, their full faces, their puffy eyes, their crushed noses, and their thick lips … the ancient Egyptians were true negroes of the same type as all native born Africans”

The question of the race of ancient Egyptians was raised historically as a product of the early racial concepts of the 18th and 19th centuries, and was linked to models of racial hierarchy primarily based on craniometry, anthropometry and genetics. A variety of views circulated about the racial identity of the Egyptians and the source of their culture.Some scholars argued that ancient Egyptian culture was influenced by other Afroasiatic-speaking populations in Northeast Africa, the Maghreb, or the Middle East, while others pointed to influences from various Nubian groups or populations in Europe.

There is the saying that, but for African maps, people would not have believed that Egypt is in Africa.

Till now, scores of people, including anthropologists, historians and filmmakers still believe that ancient Egyptians were anything but black.

For such people, civilization in ancient Egypt had nothing to do with dark-skinned Africans. But science and history have given people a clearer picture to prove that ancient Egyptians were indeed Black. Senegalese scholar Dr Cheikh Anta Diop (1923-1986) did a detailed research on this and found the following:

DNA Evidence 

DNA samples of Egyptian Pharoah Tutankhamen and family were recently analysed by DNATribes, a company that traces people’s ancestry to certain global populations. They found that the closest living relatives of the mummies are sub-Saharan Africans, particularly those from Southern Africa and the Great Lakes region. Several Greek historians further said that ancient Egyptians were black-skinned and had woolly hair. Other scholars pointed out that ancient Egyptians had dark or dark-skinned complexions.

Cultural ties between Egypt and other African cultures

Ancient Egypt had some cultural commonalities with other African cultures, in terms of kinship, matriarchy, totemism, among others. After studying circumcision and totemism among Egyptians and other Africans, Diop stated that:

“Historians are in general agreement that the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Colchians, and people of the Southern Levant were among the only people on earth practising circumcision, which confirms their cultural affiliations, if not their ethnic affiliation.”

The Egyptians called themselves Black

Ancient Egyptians had a term they used to describe themselves – KMT – which literally means “The Blacks.”

“The term is a collective noun which thus described the whole people of Pharaonic Egypt as a Black people,” according to Diop. The monuments and ancient Egyptian representations in art gave further evidence.

Blood Types and Melanin tests

Ancient Egyptians intermixed with foreign traders for centuries but the blood type of modern Egyptians, according to Diop, is the “same group B as the populations of Western Africa on the Atlantic seaboard and not the A2 group characteristic of the white race prior to any crossbreeding.” After conducting melanin tests on Egyptian mummies at the Museum of Man in Paris, Diop concluded that all ancient Egyptians were among the Black races.

Anthropology

Most of the skeletons and skulls of ancient Egyptians showed that they were Negroid people who had features similar to those of modern Black Nubians and other people of the Upper Nile and East Africa.

To further debunk claims that Black race did not exist in Egypt but migrated at a later stage, skulls from the predynastic period (6000 B.C.) were examined and the result is that they had a huge percentage of Black characteristics than any other type.

There will always be controversy with this topic on wether Ancient Egypt was black or white, Researchers in future want to determine exactly when Sub-Saharan African genes seeped into the Egyptian genome and why. They’ll also want to know where ancient Egyptians themselves came from. To do so, they’ll have to identify older DNA from, as Krause said, “Back further in time, in prehistory.”

Using high-throughput DNA sequencing and cutting-edge authentication techniques, researchers proved they could retrieve reliable DNA from mummies, despite the unforgiving climate and damaging embalming techniques.

Further testing will likely contribute much knowledge to our understanding of the ancient Egyptians and perhaps even those from other places as well, helping to fill in the gaps in humanity’s collective memory.

To learn about the latest Egyptian archaeological find watch this video

References:

Wikipedia: Ancient Egyptian race controversy
Philp Perry: Big Think – Were the ancient Egyptians black or white? Scientists now know
– Face2FaceAfrica Mildred Europa Taylor: Let’s settle this, ancient Egyptians were black

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