Black Egyptians

There’s a a talk abstract out that mentions some moderately ancient DNA info from Egypt, from around 2000 to 3000 years ago.

They [Johannes Krause et al] say “ancient Egyptians shared more Near Eastern ancestry than present-day Egyptians, who received additional Sub-Saharan admixture in more recent times.” Today Egyptians, most of them, have around 20% sub-Saharan ancestry. Apparently it used to be less than that – how much exactly we’ll see when the article comes out, probably. Copts might give you a rough idea of what Egyptians used to be like – whatever the SSA fraction is in modern Copts [probably lower than in typical Egyptians], it was probably lower still 2500 years ago. In particular I would expect that the West African component just wasn’t there yet, although some of the East African component probably was.

I touched upon this in a post a while back, where some geneticists, in the course of an extremely dubious/tenuous/whacked attempt to figure out whether humans left Africa thru Sinai or Yemen, for some insane reason assumed that Egypt used to be black.

The background here is that people whose ancestors came recently out of sub-Saharan Africa want to be able to point to the big historical accomplishments of their ancestors. The problem is that there aren’t any, other than some domesticates, like sorghum. Amerindians have the same problem – they developed some really important crops, but it’s hard to point to a important technique, discovery, idea, or invention that they originated [in many cases because someone in the Old World had already done it, thousands of years earlier].

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130 Responses to Black Egyptians

  1. That’s an interesting line of evidence. However, there’s an important counterpoint: you be racist, we was kangs, whitey be a cave albino, whitey be envious of muh d.

  2. Rosenmops says:

    There are two people in my department from Egypt. One is a woman who has very fair skin and looks completely European. The other is a man who is very dark, but not in a sub Saharan way. He seems sort of like a dark Arab. He doesn’t look Sub Saharan at all. Both are Muslims. It seems odd that there is so much variation.

    • MawBTS says:

      Reading the classics can confuse things, because of passages Herodotus’s The Histories II.104:

      “But it is undoubtedly a fact that the Colchians are of Egyptian descent. I noticed this myself before I head anyone else mention it […] My own idea one the subject was based first on the fact that they have black skin and woolly hair (not that that amounts to much, as other nations have the same)…”

      …but when you consider that contemporary Egyptian art depicts light skinned people, plus the DNA evidence, plus Ramesses II having red hair, it doesn’t seem too reliable as evidence. Maybe you could use it to support the theory that the Greeks saw colours differently (Homer’s “wine dark sea” etc)?

      • gcochran9 says:

        Probably Herodotus wrote that part while in a Scythian sauna.

      • Salmed says:

        It’s only confusing if you’re a dimwit who’s dimwitted enough to believe that:

        A. Herodotus means what an American SJW means by black.

        B. Herodotus was writing a modern day scientific treatise as opposed to a travelogue. And would not have jumped on the most immediately different parts of the foreigners when put with his audience.

      • DataExplorer says:

        Modern day Georgians are definitely darker looking than modern day Greeks, I have visited both countries. Also part of Ancient Colchis is bordering the area of Kurdistan. One thing I have noticed watching news reals of the wars in Syria and Iraq is that the Kurdish forces look more archaic than the Arabs, they seem to be darker skinned and their hair is more curly. The Kurds are a partial remnant of the earlier indigenous peoples of the Mountain regions of the Northern Middle East that the Colchians may have also been part of.

      • syonredux says:

        “My own idea one the subject was based first on the fact that they have black skin and woolly hair (not that that amounts to much, as other nations have the same)…””

        “Black” can be highly subjective. For example, people from the British Isles with black hair and olive skin (think Catherine Zeta-Jones) used to be described as Black:

        Shakespeare’s elaborate verbal play in Love’s Labour’s Lost regarding the dark-haired Rosaline:

        FERDINAND
        By heaven, thy love is black as ebony.
        BIRON
        Is ebony like her? O wood divine!
        A wife of such wood were felicity.
        O, who can give an oath? where is a book?
        That I may swear beauty doth beauty lack,
        If that she learn not of her eye to look:
        No face is fair that is not full so black.

        Jonathan Swift describing the Duke of Somerset:

        Duke of Somerset:

        Is of a middle stature, well shaped, a very black complexion, a lover of music and poetry; of good judgment [not a grain;hardly common sense];but by reason of a great hesitation in his speech wants expression. He is about forty-two years old.

        And here is a description of the inhabitants of the Western Isles of Scotland:

        The Inhabitants are generally well proportioned, and of a black Complexion; they speak only the Irish Tongue and use the Habit, Diet, and etc that is used in the Western Isles

      • Tom Bri says:

        Herodotus also said that black Africans ejaculate black semen. He may have been mistaken about a few things.

    • Hulegu Khan says:

      The Mameluks were ex-Circassian slaves usually, (Ethnic Ukrainians) and they were the elite of Egyptian society from the 13th century until Bonaparte’s expedition at the end of the 18th. They left a genetic fingerprint.

  3. Salmed says:

    The Afrocentric obsession with claiming (insert civilization here) goes down to how American Blacks are a mongrel population without a sure ethnic identity.

  4. dearieme says:

    “moderately ancient DNA info from Egypt, from around 2000 to 3000 years ago”: ‘moderately’ is rather an understatement; in the context of Egypt a couple of thousand years is but the bat of an eye.

  5. jb says:

    Amerindians may not have been first with any important ideas, but they did build in stone (quite impressively), and they did manage to create some fairly extensive empires (comparable in many ways to the earliest Old World empires I think).

    Sub-Saharan Africans never did anything like that — certainly not on their own anyway. Great Zimbabwe was built long after the onset of Arab influence, and it looks pretty crude anyway compared to what you can find in the New World. The Ethiopians and Nubians did do some real building, but they are half Eurasian anyway, and form the furthest extension of the Middle Eastern cultural complex. The best I can come up for West Africa is that they probably learned to farm and work iron on their own, and I suppose that’s not nothing. But even compared to the New World, it doesn’t look like they ever did anything particularly impressive. Am I missing something?

    • Toddy Cat says:

      As I recall, the Maya came up with the concept of “Zero” independently, which is essential for any kind of advanced mathematics, but other than some pretty impressive number-juggling when it came to astronomical prediction, I’m not sure that they ever did much with it. Still fairly impressive though.

      • pyrrhus says:

        The Mayans had some pretty sophisticated astronomy, despite very cloudy skies much of the time. They had carefully charted Venus, had located the galactic center, and had a pretty good calendar.

      • reiner Tor says:

        Not bad from a relatively small stone age people, who had nobody else to learn from.

        They had nobody else to pick up the good genes from, either. The Diamond-Sailer double advantage of Eurasians over Amerindians.

        • Jim says:

          Describing the Maya or other Mesoamerican cultures as “stone age” is pretty misleading.

          • reiner Tor says:

            Well, they were definitely not yet bronze age…

            In any event, they really had nobody to learn from. They had to go from stone age hunting-gathering to agriculture and civilization entirely on their own.

            • Ursiform says:

              Ages are defined by more than metalwork. Their social organization, agriculture, architecture, written language, astronomical observations and so forth were more advanced than what is generally considered stone age.

              • reiner Tor says:

                Yes, that is the remarkable thing. That with stone tools and nobody to learn from, even lacking the wheel, they managed to build a relatively sophisticated civilization.

              • Ursiform says:

                The Maya had wheeled toys. It may have been that living in areas with a lot of mud wheeled vehicles weren’t reliable for them.

              • Jim says:

                If you don’t build roads wheels are not so useful.

            • Douglas Knight says:

              In what sense were the Inca not Bronze Age? They had bronze. Yes, they still used stone tools, but so did Old World civilizations in the Bronze Age.

              • gcochran9 says:

                In Eurasia, Bronze Age civs had writing – the Inca did not.

              • Douglas Knight says:

                OK, if you define the Bronze Age by writing, then they definitely don’t make the cut. But if you count Quipu as proto-writing, they are on par with some early-Early Bronze Age civilizations, or at least it is controversial when writing began in the Old World.

                I guess bronze is a pretty low bar because it is easier to see in a contemporary culture than in archaeological records. So maybe they’re a good match to the Chalcolithic. But I don’t think it’s obvious either way.

              • Jim says:

                Amerindian civilizations were what they were. It’s pointless to try to fit them into a classification system based on the history of the Near East.

              • Karl Zimmerman says:

                I really think that the lack of communication from Mesoamerica to the Andes really hurt Native American civilizations. The Andes had pack animals, and the Maya had wheels, but the two never came together. Teotihuacan apparently experimented with true stone arches by 200 AD – a building advance which really would have been helpful in the Andes – but the advance did not spread. The earliest copper work in the Andes could be as old as 1400 BC, but it took over two thousand years to reach Mesoamerica. Hell, even the humble potato didn’t spread north until the Spanish introduced it. IIRC there’s evidence that the Tlinglit in Alaska actually picked it up from the Spanish and began cultivation as soon as it was introduced, so I’m sure numerous other peoples, if there were long enough communication lines, would have done so as well.

                Of course, it’s a moot point, because even if the American civilizations were more advanced 90%+ of them were going to die due to Eurasian plagues.

              • Hulegu Khan says:

                Inca had copper, silver, and gold. Not bronze.

              • gcochran9 says:

                The Andean Amerindians made bronze, first arsenical bronze and later mainly tin bronze.

      • Jim says:

        They were able to calculate the relation between the Long Count Dates and the solar year. The dates of religious observances were set by the Long Count and these dates drifted around the solar year. I’m not sure about the nature of their other “astronomical predictions”.

        The positional system used for the Long Count was a little weird. It was a mixed base system in which different positions had different place values. A positional system can be set up on the basis of arbitrarily chosen values for each digit position but as far as I know, aside from the Long Count, all other systems used in history choose a fixed value for every digit position, either 10 or 60.

        The Hellenistic astronomers used a base 10 system for measuring chords and a base 60 system for measuring angles.

        The Long count was used by the Maya, Olmecs, and Zapotecs but not by other Amerindian civilizations.

      • syonredux says:

        Not as impressive as the corpus of Classical Greek Mathematics…..

        • Jim says:

          Oh, nothing in comparison with Classical Greek Mathematics. For that matter there is no textual evidence indicating a knowledge of mathematics comparable to Egyptian or Mesopotamian mathematics.

    • Frau Katze says:

      So how do present day East Africans compare to the Bantus (I thinks that’s the name for sub Saharans)? They clearly look different, yet some of them are very dark, darker than Bantus.

    • reiner Tor says:

      I just wanted to comment something like this. The Amerindians did create impressive things.

    • Karl Zimmerman says:

      Judging by the phenotype shown by Egyptians, Nubians were not half Eurasian genetically – although it’s possible that Egyptians were accentuating the differences between themselves and Nubians.

      That East African paper that came out in 2015 however was very interesting. Modern Nubians and Sudanese Arabs were very similar genetically on both PCA and ADMIXTURE – essentially identical to the Beja and Ethiopians, and very different from Arabs, Copts, and other Nilo-Saharan populations (Fur, Nuba, and Nilotes) studied. The paper’s authors explained this due to long contact with Afro-Asiatic groups resulting in a loss of genetic distinctiveness following the arrival of Islam. But I wonder if it’s more parsimonious to presume northern Sudan was all Cushite (or some other Afro-Asiatic branch) during much of history, with the the Nubians only relatively switching to Nilo-Saharan at some point prior to the Arab invasions – perhaps through elite dominance as the Eastern Sudanic pastoralists migrated both northward and southward.

      • Jm8 says:

        @ Karl Zimmerman
        It seems the study (on Nubians) may tend to focus more on Nubians from the northern end of the Nubian region closer to Egypt rather than that near the central Sudan—where centers of earlier Nubian civilization often were historically (the earliest neolithic settlements and chiefdoms at south Nubian sites like al Kadada Kadero, and Es Shaheinab the bronze age Kerma and pre Kerma cultures a bit north in Central Nubia, and the southern centers of Meroe. Sub-Saharan ancestry in the south and center might be higher. It would be interesting to see the ancestral ratios of various Nubian (and Nubian-descended) groups along the nile between south Egypt and Khartoum/Meroe

        Interestingly even the the North Nubian and mixed “Sudanese Arab” groups from more southern and central Nubia, despite having a similar admixture ratio to horn Africans (and similar Ydna ratios), had largely subsaharan maternal ancestry (whereas that of Horners tends more evenly Eurasian/Sub-Saharan).

        http://anthromadness.blogspot.com/2016/10/sudanese-arab-and-nubian-mtdna-is.html

        • Jm8 says:

          Edit:
          “…(the earliest neolithic settlements and chiefdoms at south Nubian sites like al Kadada, Kadero, and Es Shaheinab; the bronze age Kerma and pre Kerma cultures a bit north in Central Nubia; and the southern centers of Meroe.”

        • Karl Zimmerman says:

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there are any speakers of modern Nubian left below the Third Cataract. Everyone south of there on the Nile is Arabized, if you discount post-Aswan dam refugees.

          • Jm8 says:

            I think you may be right (except for the far southern Nubians speakers—like the Midob— near South Nubia/Central Sudan not far from the Nuba hills or Darfur). But some Arabized groups of Central-South Nubia may have more Eurasian admixture than others (and those—Arabized and not—in Central Nubia less than those in the North).

            There is evidence that Meroitic was may have been Nilo-Saharan (see the work of linguist Claude Rilly) and (part of a complex of languages spoken from as far north as Central Nubia—where Kerma is —southward and in Central Sudan, from the Neolithic or earlier.) and related to but distinct from Nubian (which may have coexisted with it or come from the southern Central Sudan/Nuba mountain area—or both involving to waves).

            But some of North Nubia (north of Kerma or so) to southernmost Egypt, was likely Cushitic from an early period (and interactions of Nilo-Saharans and Cushites in Central Nubia also likely taking place) and there is evidence of continuity from then to the modern Cushitic speaking Beja that remain in the N. Nubia/S. Egypt border zone.

            It seems that in parts of Nubia (Beja or Beja-like) Cushitic camel herding nomads would (as live near Nilo-Saharan cattle herding agro-pastoralists, with the first living more in the outer desert, and the second along the nile.
            Interestingly, one of the early Greek travelers (I forget who but will look into it) to Kush commented that the natives (as opposed to closer the river tended to be darker skinned (stil sometimes true in Nubia), consistent with a more Nilo-saharan origin (and less Eurasian admixed) for them compared to some of the more mixed Beja-like Afro-Asiatic tribes living in the outer desert.
            Those near the nile farmed but also strongly depended on cattle, as the archaeology shows.
            North of the Kerma region however, both riverine and desert peoples would likely have been Afro Asiatic.

            linguistics by Rilly:

            http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3128r3sw#page-5

            http://www.ityopis.org/Issues-1_files/ITYOPIS-I-Rilly.pdf

            • Jm8 says:

              Edit: “…..the second along the nile. This pattern exists today in parts of North Nubia with Bejas and Nobiin (Nubian) speakers.”

            • Jm8 says:

              Correction:
              “…commented that the natives closer the river (as opposed to the outer desert) tended to be darker skinned (stil sometimes true in Nubia), consistent with a more Nilo-saharan origin (and less Eurasian admixed) for them…”

            • Jm8 says:

              There is some evidence of nilo-saharan peoples in the North Nubia-South Egypt region as well in the mesolithic-early neolithic (possibly represented by the Nabta Playa and Gilf Kebir cultures for instance)—then forming one element in the region among others, such as the Afro-Asiatics. There is evidence of a few early nilo-saharan loanwords in the Egyptian language from early contacts. But those peoples were likely absorbed by over more numerous Afro-Asiatic speaking peoples over the course of the neolithic-bronze age; both Proto-Egyptan speakers likely dominant in North-Central Egypt then moving south, and possible Northern Cushitic speakers (like the Beja) near the Nubian border.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I doubt if they developed iron working independently. Two possible sources: thru Nubia or from Carthaginian traders. Making Iron is complicated and hard, logical as the product of fooling around after a long history of copper and bronze metallurgy, unlikely as a first step.

      • dearieme says:

        They could have received the idea of agriculture from Egypt even if they had to domesticate their own crops. That’s what’s always impressed me with the American civilisations: they couldn’t have received ideas from elsewhere. China could, Egypt could, Greece could, and so on. But not them.

        • Mark says:

          “They could have received the idea of agriculture from Egypt even if they had to domesticate their own crops.”
          How does that actually work? And why would that be a more parsimonious or plausible theory than simply stating that SSA (really West Africa in this case) independently developed agriculture at a later date than Egyptian or Middle Eastern farmers?

          • gcochran9 says:

            You could have a situation in which Middle Eastern crops have been introduced, but are marginal, not really very successful, or maybe successful in limited areas, and stimulate the development of crops that work better locally. I could easily believe that this happened on the Ethiopian plateau. You can grow wheat and barley in Ethiopia, which originated in the Middle East, but the Ehtiopians went on to domesticate a number of other plants – teff, noog, ensete, coffee, etc.

            There are certainly cases in which the rough idea is rtansmitted, which leads to a related but different local development. Crops are not a great example of stimulus-diffusion because they take so long to develop. or so it would seem.

        • Comment says:

          My take on that is that it tells us that receiving ideas couldn’t have been that much of an advantage. If you have individuals who are capable of understanding the ideas at a high level (which you need to import them), then generally they’d also have been capable of inventing it.

          • gcochran9 says:

            Think about relative numbers. The Norse in Greenland were literate, made iron, had domesticated cattle and sheep. Let’s assume they had the same general intellectual potential as the people responsible for those innovations. Still there weren’t many Greenland Norse, only about four thousand: you think they could have done all those things by themselves in a reasonable amount of time?

            If you can pick up ideas from distant places, it is as if you have a much larger population.

    • akarlin says:

      The Amerindians got a late start on agriculture – possibly because, as Diamond pointed out, corn was harder to domesticate than wheat or rice – but once they did, they advanced faster than Eurasians did at their equivalent point of technological development.

      Interestingly, Tenochtitlan had about 200,000 people on the eve of the Spanish conquest – the largest cities in pre-Bronze Age Near East were an order of magnitude smaller.

      I speculate that corn and sweet potatoes enabled the Amerindians to have higher population densities than the Eurasians at their equivalent points of technological development, which resulted in larger cities, a larger pool of potential inventors, and a correspondingly faster rate of technological growth.

      Sub-Saharans Africans were just too dumb. There was no independent discovery or even adoption of writing until European colonization. Writing appeared in Mesoamerica around 300BC, while the Incas had developed a sort of proto-literacy in the form of qiupu recording devices.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Was corn actually domesticated very much later than wheat? The University of Utah says that corn was domesticated about 10,000 years ago, wheat about 11,500 years ago. Admittedly, 1,500 years ain’t nothing, but it still seems that the gap between Europe and Mesoamerica was greater than that. Or is my info faulty?

        http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/selection/corn/

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        Amerindians (mostly?) went far north before they came back south again. That might have been a factor.

      • syonredux says:

        “I speculate that corn and sweet potatoes enabled the Amerindians to have higher population densities than the Eurasians at their equivalent points of technological development, which resulted in larger cities, a larger pool of potential inventors, and a correspondingly faster rate of technological growth.”

        Would the absence of epidemic diseases (smallpox, etc) also have played a role?

    • Jm8 says:

      There is really no history of Arab or Islamic influence at great Zimbabwe or in the region. It is likely to have developed from earlier chiefdoms in the region such as Mapungubwe. The archaeology of the site shows a gradual increase in the complexity of the culture and the enclosure/buildings,likley based originally on the traditional circular walled cattle-based settlement pattern

      Building did occur in the cities and towns of West Africa—speaking of non-Islamic parts, mostly with little to no outside influence (e.g the original palaces of Ashanti, Benin Nigeria, the Yoruba city states, and among the Bamileke and Bamoum—and similiar nearby groups—in Cameroon). Many are handsome in their way, but many would not be very grand admittedly by general Eurasian standards. Though very large-scale moats and earthworks were created in some of those places by the local potentates in the middle ages (Sungbo’s Eredo arround the Yoruba town of Ijebu—similar ones existed in other Yoruba regions but somewhat smaller, or the Earthworks of Benin City), similar in style to structures like Offa’s dyke in Britain, but somewhat larger in scale.

      http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1703778

      https://www.google.com/search?q=ashanti+architecture&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjO5tO6t9nSAhWCMyYKHYHmDq4Q_AUIBigB&biw=1055&bih=764#imgrc=B09uLN0GBGGxBM:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=ashanti+architecture&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjO5tO6t9nSAhWCMyYKHYHmDq4Q_AUIBigB&biw=1055&bih=764#tbm=isch&q=bamoum+architecture&nfpr=1&*&imgrc=gbc9DIEXcyBPjM:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walls_of_Benin

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sungbo%27s_Eredo

    • Jm8 says:

      There is really no history of Arab or Islamic influence at great Zimbabwe or in the region. It is likely to have developed from earlier chiefdoms in the region such as Mapungubwe. The archaeology of the site shows a gradual increase in the complexity of the culture and the enclosure/buildings,likley based originally on the traditional circular walled cattle-based settlement pattern

      Building did occur in the cities and towns of West Africa—speaking of non-Islamic parts, mostly with little to no outside influence (e.g the original palaces of Ashanti, Benin Nigeria, the Yoruba city states, and among the Bamileke and Bamoum—and similiar nearby groups—in Cameroon). Many are handsome in their way, but many would not be very grand admittedly by general Eurasian standards. Though very large-scale moats and earthworks were created in some of those places by the local potentates in the middle ages (Sungbo’s Eredo arround the Yoruba town of Ijebu—similar ones existed in other Yoruba regions but somewhat smaller, or the Earthworks of Benin City), similar in style to structures like Offa’s dyke in Britain, but somewhat larger in scale.

      http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1703778

      https://www.google.com/search?q=ashanti+architecture&client=safari&rls=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjoiMeXvNnSAhVR8WMKHZltDJcQ_AUICCgB&biw=1192&bih=764#imgrc=KICo-jZNFxigLM::

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walls_of_Benin

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sungbo%27s_Eredo

      • Jm8 says:

        The longer comment was meant in response to Jb’s comment. On second look (contrary to my second to last post) it appears to have been in the right place at first and did not need reposting, extremely stupid of me to not notice that. I apologize for the duplicate posts.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        one of the problems with the afro-centrics is they want to claim famous bits of history like Egypt when the most impressive bits were in the West (somehow connected to the gold fields?)

      • Jm8 says:

        I expected the third Bamdjoun link above should to appear as a link and not a copy/paste. It still apparently, if clicked, links to the page with the collection of images I meant to link.

    • Fabrizio says:

      West Africa actually had some impressive sized empires between the 12th and the 16th centuries, which were far larger than any other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Yes, there were no impressive structures built but they also domestic a different strain of rice (Oryza glaberrima). Still, no where near Eurasia or the new world but…

    • Jm8 says:

      Thre was also a sort of early ideographic early writing known as nsibidi used by many tribes of Southeast Nigeria, invented by at least 400 AD and used often by secret societies, chiefs/priests (with a smaller range of charactors used by common people). Admitedly, it does not seem to have spread much beyond that region, even to the Yoruba/Central Nigeria zone, which in some ways was more advanced the than the southeast.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nsibidi

      • Jm8 says:

        (cont.) “There was also a sort of early ideographic writing known as nsibidi used by many tribes of Southeast Nigeria, which does not show any link to other systems and appears to be indigenous…,”

      • Jm8 says:

        Also one of the earliest independant inventions of pottery (along with that of Asia, arround the same time), seems to have been by peoples of subsaharan origin (the earliest finds being in places then inhabited by such peoples; the Central Sudan and South Mali,)

        http://anthromadness.blogspot.com/2016/05/modelling-diffusion-of-pottery.html

        • Jm8 says:

          The African pottery dates are mesolithic, and thus would predate the intruduction of Eurasian admixture that later occured in parts of the North-Central Sudan arround the later neolithic period.

          • j says:

            The Ibo and the Yoruba peoples were on the way of developing a civilization when the Portuguese arrived. In another three or four thousand years of independent evolution they would have landed on the moon.

            • Jm8 says:

              Yes, they were. It would have been interesting. They did produce a lot of good and interesting art (as did many other African groups (like the Kuba kingdom in Zaire, the early Middle Niger/Djenne jeno culture of Mali—with its terra cottas, the Nok culture from 1000 bc-200 ad, the kingdom of Kongo—with its raffia cloths, and ivories and wood carvings)

            • Or they could have reached some prosperity, and then became stagnant and destroy what they had by importing “refugees”.

    • London Observer says:

      The earthwork walls of Benin were extensive and showed that a relatively large labour force could be mobilised at times. Benin City itself seems to have impressed the Portuguese when they encountered it in the late 15th century. The bronze heads of Ife are worth a look too.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “The bronze heads of Ife are worth a look too.”

        yes – if you’re looking for some kind of cultural affirmation that’s a step up from charity ads showing people in mud huts drinking dirty water off the ground then moated fortifications with knights in armor is a big improvement – even if it not as impressive as elsewhere – but the afro-centrics don’t use the actual historical stuff from elsewhere because Egypt is more famous.

    • Given that the iron knives and swords had huge immediate utility and dispersal, any “independent” iron working is highly suspect.

  6. DataExplorer says:

    Why would the SSA fraction be lower in Copts than other Egyptians? Assuming the Copts are a reasonable approximation of the Pre-Islamic Egyptians, that would mean that significant SSAs came into Egypt after the Islamic occupation and mixed with only the Muslims and not the Christians. Why would this be? Did the Arab rulers bring in a lot of African slaves and concubines, convert them to Islam and keep them away from the native Copts?

  7. Salmed says:

    The available evidence from relevant disciplines points to Egypt by the establishment of the Old Kingdom as the fruit of a meeting between Levantine settlers in the north and an East African (who by this point had already been seriously admixed with West Eurasians) stock down south.

    This addresses the lack of affinities with Tropical African populations who aren’t East African or Horners, the more TA features of Egyptians in the south, and variety in portrayals of Egyptians within artwork (such as having light skinned sculptures with brown paintings).

    The rioting over what the Egyptians were keeps coming down to trying to force them into modern identity politics. Egypt was ultimately an ancient examples of the melting pot even before invasions by the likes of the Hyskos.

  8. josh says:

    I’ve read several times that Inca engineering was based on “tension rather than compression”. Aside from rope bridges, does anyone know if they built anything very impressive?

    • reiner Tor says:

      Well, I personally find Machu Picchu quite impressive. Certainly more impressive than anything built in SSA.

      • Enquiring Mind says:

        Chichen Itza and similar structures around the Mayan peninsula are also quite impressive.

        • Jim says:

          Chichen Itza shows a lot of signs of Toltec influence. It is somewhat atypical as a Maya city. It may have been some sort of Toltec colony or intrusion. Incidentally there is evidence of Mayan enclaves or colonies in the Valley of Mexico.

      • josh says:

        But Machu Picchu seems pretty “compression based” to my untrained eye. IF they had a whole different kind of engineering, I would expect some cool Swiss Family Robinson tree houses or something.

        • reiner Tor says:

          Oh, I guess the “tension based” Inca architecture might be a PC myth. Other than the Inca bridges (which are cool and kind of impressive themselves, by the way), I don’t think there’s much tension based in Inca architecture.

          It doesn’t mean their compression based stuff wasn’t impressive.

          I’m also no expert, so anybody feel free to correct me.

    • Ursiform says:

      Large scale architecture in a difficult environment is impressive.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Yes, the Inca did indeed accomplish some impressive things, at least when it came to public works. If you had to put the best of the Pre-Columbian Americans (Inca, Aztec, Maya, Chibcha, Pre-Incan Andean peoples like the Chimu) as a whole on an informal scale, it would probably be “Somewhat less impressive than much of NE Europe or NW Asia, but a lot more impressive than most of SSA or Aboriginal Australia”. Which, given IQ scores, is exactly what one would expect. Not generally up to the best, but far from stupid.

  9. j says:

    The French expeditionary force that occupied Egypt under Napoleon’s command from July 1798 until 1801 included some of France’s leading scientists. Their work was published as the Description de l’Égypte, with beautiful engraved plates ( https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-20a7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99 ) The idea that Ancient Egyptians looked like Bantu never occurred to them. The contemporary population they describe is Mediterranean, like South Italians. Egypt acquired most of its SSA genes probably during the Anglo-British Condominium, when land communications with Sudan improved. Did someone read in the original Greek the Stories of Herodotus – who spent years in Egypt – affirming that they were SSA?

  10. TWS says:

    What happened with copper and bronze in the Americas? They had them at one time then abandon it.

    That right there is odd. Even if it was just kept as a prestige item for the elites you would think that it would remain in some capacity.

  11. Misdreavus says:

    So… So we wuzn’t kangz, after all?

  12. Michael says:

    Is there anything to the Nordic hypothesis of ancient Egyptian origins?

    http://marchofthetitans.com/2013/03/05/nordic-desert-empire-ancient-egypt/

    • gcochran9 says:

      No. The language and all the key crops originated in the Middle East, the locals are mostly related to people from the Middle East, with some African admixture.

      There may have been occasional people from farher away – traders, mercenaries, etc.

  13. David Pinsen says:

    I knew a Copt. Was studying for his PhD in math. If you didn’t know his background, you might have assumed he was from India. Dark complexion, but basically Caucasian features.

  14. gkai says:

    Do you mean this documentary is not completely accurate?

    ;-p

    • MawBTS says:

      America’s the land of opportunity where a poor black boy can grow up to be a rich white woman.

      • ursiform says:

        Especially if he was given female hormones to keep his voice from changing while his brain was developing.

        Even after his death his family’s primary concern was how to keep profiting from him.

  15. spottedtoad says:

    Razib Khan brought up with Henry Louis Gates recently that the Egyptians weren’t black, and Gates said that well, the Nubians/Kushites were, which to me is a reasonable compromise position, whether or not ancient East Africans were all that closely related to present day people of West African descent.

    https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/the-truth-is-more-interesting-than-lies/

    • Toddy Cat says:

      Did anyone ever doubt that the Nubians/Kushites were black? I mean, they are portrayed as black in Egyptian paintings. I mean, maybe the Nazis thought that they were strayed Nordics or some BS like that, but I didn’t think that there was really any doubt about this. Of course, this has me agreeing with Henry Louis Gates, but hey, stopped clocks and all…

      • MawBTS says:

        The Nazis also thought that the Japanese were descended from the same sky gods that had birthed the Aryan race, hence they were ethnic brothers.

        I don’t wanna stick my neck out too far here but the Nazis may have gone wrong in a few places.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          “the Nazis may have gone wrong in a few places.”

          Yes, anyone who declares war on both the USSR and Russia at essentially the same time, and who believed that the Japanese are Nordic is a few apples short of a load, no matter how many ballistic missiles, jet fighters, and nerve gas variants they manage to come up with.

  16. David Pinsen says:

    The background here is that people whose ancestors came recently out of sub-Saharan Africa want to be able to point to the big historical accomplishments of their ancestors. The problem is that there aren’t any, other than some domesticates, like sorghum. Amerindians have the same problem – they developed some really important crops, but it’s hard to point to a important technique, discovery, idea, or invention that they originated [in many cases because someone in the Old World had already done it, thousands of years earlier].

    There are other things to be proud of, such as martial virtues. In the 1980s, there was a miniseries about Shaka Zulu ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086798/?ref_=nv_sr_3 ). I recall black classmates taking some pride in that story (though their ancestors originated thousands of miles from Zulu country).

  17. Rich Rostrom says:

    The Afro-centric obsession with Egypt has its converse in the notion that non-whites are oppressed by the study of classical civilization – because their ancestors had no connection to it. Well, I’m Scandinavian, and my ancestors (or to be precise, their cousins who left home) had a great impact on classical civilization – they burned down most of it. So am I oppressed by the classics?

    (There was an excruciating example of this in Britain recently – a Moslem woman complaining about the Eurocentrism of the curriculum, as exemplified by classics. But she’s from North Africa – her home town was founded as a Roman military camp!)

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