Home Masthead Cheikh Anta Diop: The African Origin of Civilization Myth and Reality

Cheikh Anta Diop: The African Origin of Civilization Myth and Reality

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Chapter 3: Modern Falsification of History

In ancient times it was widely believed that Egyptians came from the Ethiopians, but in the 1800s many European scholars began to distance Egypt from black Africa, from “Africa proper”. They looked to Asia or even North Africa for the seeds of Egyptian civilization. The black people found in Ancient Egypt were seen as slaves in a white civilization.

One of the more desperate attempts to do this was to say that Egyptian civilization came from the Libyans to the west. Libyans were light-skinned and possibly came from Europe. But the Egyptians regarded them as savages. Herodotus too:

Their women wear on each leg a ring made of bronze, they let their hair grow long, and when they catch vermin on their person, bite it and throw it away.

The Libyans did in fact take over and rule Egypt for a while, but that was thousands of years after the rise of Egyptian civilization. The same goes for all the light-skinned rulers of Egypt – the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Turks. In fact, their settling in Egypt is proof not that Egypt was white, but that it used to be much blacker than it is today.

As it turns out Egyptians painted pictures of the different people of the known world and even gave each a different skin colour, putting them in this order:

I could not find any photographs showing the four Egyptian divisions of mankind but I did find some coloured drawings which I put here in the order given by Diop.
I could not find any photographs showing the four Egyptian divisions of mankind but I did find some coloured drawings which I put here in the order given by Diop.

Dark red or copper: Egyptians
Black: Africans
Tan or yellow: Asians
White: Europeans

Whites were not only last, they were the only ones pictured as savages (as most were back then some 3,500 years ago).

European scholars jumped on this to show that the Egyptians did not regard themselves as black. Yet, as one of these very same scholars pointed out elsewhere, copper is part of the natural skin colour range of black Africa.

Three photographs showing tomb paintings of foreigners in the time of Ramses III (1100s)
Three photographs showing tomb paintings of foreigners in the time of Ramses III (1100s)
The Egyptians naturally saw themselves as being different and apart from everyone else. But they also saw themselves as being closest, in appearance and civilization, to “Africa proper” – and farthest from whites!

It was not just skin colour either, but even their features:

Nose short and flesh
Mouth stretched a bit too far
Thick lips
Large eyes opened wide

And that in the words of a scholar who tried to prove the Egyptians were not black!

For comparison here is how Egyptians pictured white people (in the words of Champollion):

a white skin of the most delicate shade, a nose straight or slightly arched, blue eyes, blond or reddish beard, tall stature and very slender, clad in a hairy ox-skin, a veritable savage, tattooed on various parts of his body.

The Egyptians also painted their gods black. Isis, for example, always has the skin colour of a Nubian. If Egypt was a white civilization with black slaves then why the black gods? Most people paint gods in their own image, not that of their slaves.

Chapter 4: Origination in the Delta?

Diop argues that Egyptian civilization did not first appear in the Nile Delta.

Some scholars, interested in proving that Egypt got its civilization from light-skinned outsiders, have argued that it began in the Delta. After all, if civilization came from Asia, North Africa, and Europe or over the Mediterranean Sea, then it would appear first in the Delta and then spread up the Nile to Upper Egypt.

Diop says there are no hard facts to support this. True, the Delta is far wetter so less comes down to us there from ancient times, yet even wood is able to last there for up to 4,000 years. So there should be at least some hard facts in its favour. Instead it is a theory without any hard facts to support it.

If the facts are simply missing due to wetness or bad luck, then the history of Upper Egypt should not make complete sense on its own. But it does. Civilization arises there step by step. Its archaeological record goes back over 9,000 years without any break that a Delta origin of civilization would help us to understand.

Map of Ancient Egypt
Map of Ancient Egypt
The pharaohs mostly ruled from Thebes in Upper Egypt. When they ruled from Memphis near the Delta, it was for military reasons. And even then when the pharaoh died, they sent his body back to Upper Egypt to be buried.

Upper Egypt, particularly in and near Thebes, was the centre of Egyptian religion. The worship of Osiris was centered there. The oldest books have the gods coming from Upper Egypt or further south, never from the Delta. The first fight between Set and Horus took place in Nubia to the south.

All this makes sense if, as the ancients believed, Egyptians came from Ethiopia. Or if Egyptian civilization simply started in Upper Egypt. But if the gods came from the Delta, as some maintain, it would make little sense.

Other reasons that run counter to a Delta origin of Egyptian civilization:

Egypt has always been mainly a land power, not a sea power. Which would be odd if it was born in the Delta, right near the Mediterranean Sea?

The Delta became habitable and Memphis even possible due to advanced public works upriver in Upper Egypt.

The Delta was subject to war and plague far more than Upper Egypt, making it a less favourable place for civilization to start.

Some argue that the Egyptian calendar started in Memphis because that is where the Sun and Sirius seem to rise together. Yet that same calendar’s oldest known date is 4236 BC, a thousand years before the founding of Memphis, back when the place where Memphis was to be built still stood under water.

In short, a Delta origin, instead of making better sense of what we know about Egypt, makes it more of a mystery.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The genius of Diop amazes me, just as the bigotry of his critics shocks me. It is also shocking that the truth of African origins, both in terms of our species and our human civilization, is still denied in American schools.

  2. With the most recent discoveries in genetics, anthropology. Archaeology and linguistics Diop has been proven to be Correct. And the areas in which he was wrong was due to the same racist indoctrination which even affected him.

    • What are you talking about? The complete opposite is true. As advances in DNA sequencing have evolved, Diop has been shown to be mostly wrong

      • Name one peer reviewed study that proves any of Diop’s main conclusions of the Black African origins of Homo Sapiens and Ancient Nile Valley civilizations to be false. Name one. The Abusir genetic study of 2017 has been soundly denounced by peer reviewed geneticists, btw. In other words, all of Diop’s critics have been resoundingly crushed to silence.

  3. Merci à cheick Anta ,notre Pharaon,merci à Théophile Obenga ,du Congo,Coovi Gomez Kalala omotunde,et tout les savants africains.Nous defenderons avec courage et sagacité notre histoire

    • Dr Diop presents a strikingly compelling argument to debunk the revisionistic and spurious research presented by Western investigators. His work is by far, of the most objective of all scientists involved with human evolution. His findings must live on.

  4. This is still extremely contested. This idea that all these greeks learned in egypt, and that egypt was black, are not settled. Most of this attribution to greeks studying in egypt came from later writers wrting about them, a point that is totally glossed over in this article. They “travelled”, then afrocentrists just assume.

    And the whole black egypt thing is not settled. There is dna evidence that shows sub saharan dna, and dna evidence that doesnt. Egyptians males were always red in their art, and nubians were always black. Egyptian females were yellow. They always made a distinction.

    Everything Diop researched on was about race. He was highly motivates to prove egypt was black. Hardly unbiased. Afrocentrists talks about archaeologists white washing, but where is the evidence for that, especially recently. The same conference in 1974 that most egyptologist disagreed egyptians were black also disagreed egyptians were white. It is part of the conspiracy message though.

    • You obviously have never read what Ancient Greeks said in their own contemporaneous words about not only travelling to Ancient Egypt but studying directly under the tutelage of their BLACK master teachers. They directly attribute all of their learning to the BLACK Ancient Egyptians who these Greek scholars claimed, IN THEIR OWN WORDS, were the first to develop the sciences millennia before the first Greek arrivals in Africa. You need to actually read what the Ancient Greeks say before commenting garbage that you do not know.

    • Echoing Afriaspora Films, I did all the research not even a debate that ancient Kemetic were indigenous black Africans from the Nile and East/West Africa.

      The black figurines that show Kemet/Egyptian lifestyle are a sight to behold, have you seen them?
      In those scenes, I did not see any white or olive skinned characters.
      Also, this was the beginning of all civilization, and there were no white or olive people there.
      At 4000 or 3000 years ago, the sun was 90 to 120 degrees, and walking or building pyramids without shirts would have resulted in your skin frying.

      Did you know that every type of African Egyptian culture can be found throughout Africa? This is why they were able to build one of the greatest civilizations in the world.
      Africa is the most genetically diverse continent on Earth, with a wide range of physical and cognitive traits.

      This diversity was a key factor in the success of African Egyptian culture, as it allowed them to adapt to a variety of environments and challenges.

      In other words, they represent the extremes: the smartest and dumbest, the tallest and shortest, and the fastest and slowest.
      And, the most creative and non creative.
      That group of indigenous black African came together at the same-time in a perfect storm .i.e. NBA Dream Team 1992 in Kemet.

      This is the only thing that makes sense!!!!
      Mic drop time, the ancient Kemetic were spirit people that believe the earth, wind, animal and people are all collected in spiritual cosmic order.

  5. 𓋹𓍑𓋴 Furthermore, you need to travel.

    I studied in Egypt as a student at the American University in Cairo. I have spent a lot of time in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Aswan, Giza, Saqqara, Tel Al Amarna, Alexandria, Sinai and various museums and exhibits all over the world. So, my knowledge comes from direct experience NOT images on the internet.

    I can tell you this, Ancient Egyptians used brown, black, reddish brown, yellowish brown and yellow pigments to depict themselves and Ancient Nubians at various periods of time over a three thousand year history. The color used the most to depict both male and female skin tones was the exact same medium brown. See the art of the 18th Dynasty (King Tut and his wife are the same medium brown; Queen Tiye, Tut’s grandmother, and her husband Amenhoptep III are the same medium brown; Amarna depictions of Akhenaton and his entire family are the same medium brown. And theses are just a handful of famous examples which show your statement to be false out of thousands of other images that are not famous.)

    Nevertheless, all skin tones used by Ancient Egyptians to depict themselves regardless of time period are the same skin tones found in all of Africa typically described as BLACK Africa today. Black Africans are NOT black in color. We come in every shade of brown imaginable from the darkest, so dark that you see black to the palest of yellowish, pinkish white (see “black African” albinos like famous Malian kora player Suleiman Keita, who has blonde hair and blue eyes, btw). That is the full range of UNMIXED (with Europeans or Asians) so called BLACK African people. African DNA is the oldest and most diverse in the world. All human phenotypes can be found in indigenous African people without Eurasian and Neanderthal admixture. When and if you actually travel in the continent you will discover this.

    The images on the internet are truly a carefully selected set of images to promote an extremely Eurocentric myopia of the world. Read more and travel more if your cherished notions guarding your fragility can handle it. If you do, however, and you can heal from your engrained cognitive dissonance, I guarantee your world view will change for the better of everyone.

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