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


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Chapter 5: An Asian Origin?

Diop, writing in the early 1950s, said that Egyptian civilization did not come from Asia:

There is no solid proof of any advanced civilization in Asia old enough to account for the rise of Egyptian civilization.

Ancient writers regarded Egyptian civilization as much older than anything in Asia. They saw Mesopotamian civilization as coming from Africa.

Astronomical calculations put the rise of Mesopotamia in the -2500s. That is 600 years after Egypt.

Yet in Diop’s time it was widely believed that Egypt and Mesopotamia arose at the same time. Why? Georges Contenau, a French archaeologist at the Louvre, put it this way:
It is difficult to explain how Egyptian civilization, which Egyptologists, in the most moderate estimates, start around 3100 BC, could have preceded Mesopotamian history by 600 years.

In other words, the Asian origin was assumed rather than proved.

Millions were spent in trying to find the birth of civilization in Asia. Ancient remains in tombs were called “kings” when they may have been merely town headmen or even human sacrifices. Nothing was found that even begins to approach the scale of what Egypt had at the time – like, say, pyramids.

Cheikh Anta Diop Chapter 5 The PyramidsAnd if by “Asian origin” one means white, it becomes even more improbable: before -1500 the people in the region stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to India were largely black or part black. They were not nearly as light-skinned or white looking as they are today. The region had not yet gone through thousands of years of white-skinned barbarians coming down from the north in wave after wave.

Cheikh Anta Diop Chapter 5 HarappaCarthage, Egypt, Phoenicia, Elam and Indus were all black or part-black civilizations. You see it in their pictures and their skulls. You see it in the way the Greeks and Jews compare them or tie them to Ethiopians or Africans – which seems improbable to us today but apparently it did not seem so at the time.

The Bible, for example, says:
And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan… And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth… And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

Which sees the people of Egypt (Mizraim), Phoenicia (Canaan), Sudan (Cush) and Mesopotamia (Shinar) as being peopled by the sons of Ham (Ham means “black”), not by the sons of Shem (Semites) like the Jews themselves. Notice that it is the sons of Ham who founded the cities, like Babel – at a time when the Jews were still shepherds.

The Semites as we know them today, the Jews and Arabs, were created from a mix of civilized dark-skinned people from Africa and barbarian white-skinned West Eurasians. It is like what took place in India but instead of people being separated into lighter and darker-skinned castes, they became thoroughly mixed over time.

Chapter 6: Egyptian Race Seen by Anthropologists

Diop says there is no proof from science, from physical anthropologists who measure skulls, that Egypt was mainly white at the time civilization arose there some 5,000 years ago.

The schoolbooks of his time, back the early 1950s, said that Egypt was a white civilization. They said it with such authority that one would naturally suppose that it must be backed by science. But it was nothing like that. It was just wishful thinking – which millions of schoolchildren have dutifully learned as fact.

This is how the minds of so many generations have been warped… It is an intellectual swindle.

Thus says Diop: If you look through the scientific literature there was no proof that Egypt was mostly white. That for two reasons:

First, it is hard to clearly tell race from measuring skulls. For example, one way of measuring skulls showed that Egypt was about a fourth black. But that same way of measuring skulls would also show that England was 30% black and that Black Africa was only 29% black!

Second, of the studies on skulls that have been carried out, none showed that Egypt was mostly white when civilization arose there. Instead they tend to show that a fourth to a third were clearly black while most other people were mixed with black.

Science has never been able to find a white Egypt. Instead it keeps finding the skulls of people who seem to be black from the “wrong” periods.

Some have made up for this lack of fact with half-baked reasoning. Like that the Sahara has cut off blacks from the rest of mankind so there is no way they could have given civilization to the world – completely overlooking the fact that it is the Nile itself that is the main way across the Sahara!

Egyptian Bas Relief
Egyptian Bas Relief
Or even worse, they start twisting the meanings of words. Diop says: Numerous authors circumvent the difficulty by speaking of Whites with red skin or Whites with black skin. This does not seem incongruous to them for, as soon as a race has created a civilization, there can be no more possibility of its being Black.

For example, one book on geography written for 13-year-old French schoolchildren said this:
A Black is distinguished less by the color of his skin (for there are Whites with black skin) than by his features: thick lips, flat nose, etc.

Another book speaks of “Whites with brown or red skin (Egyptians)”.

Diop concludes: Only by similar definitions has one been able to whiten the Egyptian race, and this is the clearest proof of its blackness.

Up to this point of the book Diop has been tearing down the idea that Ancient Egypt was somehow a white civilization. For the rest of the book he will try to show that it was black, looking at the arguments both for and against.


  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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