DNA of Mummies: Is studying early Egypt in its African context Afrocentric or simply correct?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by EgalitarianJay, Mar 1, 2019.

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Is claiming the ancient Egyptians were Black Africans a pseudohistorical claim?

  1. Yes - The Ancient Egyptians were not Black Africans.

    3 vote(s)
    37.5%
  2. No - The Ancient Egyptians were primarily what we today call Black Africans.

    2 vote(s)
    25.0%
  3. Not enough information to tell.

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  4. I have no opinion on this and/or do not want to respond to this poll. Just show me the results.

    2 vote(s)
    25.0%
  1. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

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    The history of Africa and human civilization? This topic has been discussed by the academic community.
     
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  3. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    I asked you first.
    I believe you. What puzzles me is:
    How does the DNA of a few old pharaohs figure into the history of Africa? I mean, what does the family tree of these very few individuals tell us about African civilizations that was not already recorded in contemporary documents and reconstructed in archeological ruins and artefacts?
    What's the specific piece of information in contention and how would this DNA help settle it?
     
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  5. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

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    That was a rhetorical question. The DNA research is relevant to who the ancient Egyptians were as a people which is informative for the history of Africa and human civilization.

    The DNA of the mummies gives us answers to the population affinity of the ancient Egyptians. Western scholars have been fascinated by Egypt for centuries and wanted to know more about the culture. The race or biological affinities of the people is one of the many questions asked about them. DNA helps give us the answer to that question.


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    Were the Ancient Egyptians black? That is entirely up to you. But were they biologically African? It would seem that they were. After considering the full range of anatomical, linguistic, cultural, archeological and genetic evidence, Shomarka Keita feels confident in concluding that the original Egyptians by which he means the pre-dynastic people of Southern Egypt, who founded Egyptian civilization evolved entirely in Africa. Both culturally and biologically, he says, they were more related to other Africans than they were to non-Africans from Europe or Asia.

    Through the years, Keita believes, the Egyptians appear to have blended with many immigrants and invaders, many of whom were lighter-skinned and more Caucasoid in appearance than the original Egyptians. Libyans, Persians, Syro-Palestinians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans all left their imprint on the faces of Egypt. But Egyptian civilization remained profoundly African to the very end.

    Keita himself rarely resorts to such crudely racial expressions as black and white. But if we might be forgiven a momentary lapse into everyday speech, it would probably not hurt to conceive of Keita's theory as the polar opposite of the Hamitic Hypothesis. Whereas the Hamitic theorists saw Egypt as a nation of white people that was gradually infiltrated by blacks, the biological evidence seems to suggest that it was more like a black nation that was gradually infiltrated by whites.

    Source: Black Spark White Fire: Did African Explorers Civilize Ancient Europe? - Chapter 77. Black, White or Biologically African? Pg. 471
     
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Except, as I've pointed out, it isn't. How many mummies have you got - a dozen? And they're all from a couple of ruling families.
    Test the royal family of 12th century England, and you'll get a set of Norman genes. If you projected that finding onto the population of Britain, you would leap to an entirely wrong conclusion.
    No, it doesn't. It's too small a sample from too small a pool.

    Some obviously were, since the Egyptians regularly raided southward and eastward for slaves. There was also, both before and since the great pyramid building dynasties, migrations that mixed the genes of peasant and merchant classes.
    No. It's a matter of fact, whether you know the facts or not.
     
  8. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

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    Obviously more ancient Egyptian remains would need to be tested to give an idea of the biological affinities of the general population. Craniometric research has been done on the skulls from various grave sites which indicate that the ancient Egyptians were biologically similar to neighbors to the South in the Sudan and the Horn of Africa.

    But what about the general population of Egypt or the ruling class? The history of Blacks in Egypt is not only as slaves, immigrants or invaders. The DNA research I presented shows that royal mummies such as Pharaoh Amenhotep III and King Tut had Sub-Saharan African affinities. This genetic evidence can not be ignored or dismissed when it comes to the discussion of what the Ancient Egyptians looked like. Art also gives us clues but now we have genetic evidence.

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    "There is now a sufficient body of evidence from modern studies of skeletal remains to indicate that the ancient Egyptians, especially southern Egyptians, exhibited physical characteristics that are within the range of variation for ancient and modern indigenous peoples of the Sahara and tropical Africa.. In general, the inhabitants of Upper Egypt and Nubia had the greatest biological affinity to people of the Sahara and more southerly areas." (Nancy C. Lovell, " Egyptians, physical anthropology of," in Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, ed. Kathryn A. Bard and Steven Blake Shubert, ( London and New York: Routledge, 1999) pp 328-332)

    "Recent work on skeletons and DNA suggests that the people who settled in the Nile valley, like all of humankind, came from somewhere south of the Sahara; they were not (as some nineteenth-century scholars had supposed) invaders from the North. See Bruce G. Trigger, "The Rise of Civilization in Egypt," Cambridge History of Africa (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1982), vol I, pp 489-90; S. O. Y. Keita, "Studies and Comments on Ancient Egyptian Biological Relationships," History in Africa 20 (1993) 129-54."(Mary Lefkotitz (1997). Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History. Basic Books. pg 242)

    The author Richard Poe made that comment because he was discussing different definitions of race. The traditional anthropological definition of Black was that Black people were Negroids with typically broad noses and faces. Some Western scholars proposed that Negroes were the only authentic Africans and that Africans who didn't fit the stereotype were mixed with other races. This belief became known as the True Negro Myth. That definition was compared to the One-Drop Rule of American racial classification. In America anyone with detectable Black African ancestry was considered to be Black which means that everyone from Wesley Snipes to Halle Berry to Mariah Carey is Black. In his book Poe analyzes the alternative view of Keita and other scholars who maintain that Africa has many diverse phenotypes that are indigenous to Africa. So people who look like Iman Abdulmajid, Mostafa Hefny or Nelson Mandela are just as African as people who look like Kofi Annan or any West/Central African people who older scholars considered to be the only true Africans.

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    If terms can not be properly defined then discussion becomes a semantic dispute. That is why he said it was entirely up to you. It depends on your definition of Black. If Black is defined as dark-skinned, indigenous African while accepting the range of variability in Africa (e.g. "Africoid") then the biological and genetic evidence from ancient Egyptian remains fits that definition.
     
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    So? We all came from Africa. The variation is in when and how far.
    I do not, ever, define "black".
     
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I can't really tell whether the question is a neutral one about origins or a political one about modern notions of "race".

    What is the aim here? Are we trying to determine where the ancient Egyptians came from? In other words, is the focus of interest supposed to be to what extent the ancient population of Egypt was made of immigrants from the East, the North or the South?

    Or are we trying to assert some kind of political point about "black people" or "white people" or "Asiatic people" or whatever? In other words, is the focus of interest supposed to be to what extent ancient Egyptian civilisation was constructed by one or another racially preferred group (preferred, that is, according to one or another "modern" author's racial prejudices)?

    If I had to guess, knowing next to nothing about the topic, I'd venture that Egypt, existing as it does at a crossroads between the Middle East and the bulk of the African continent, very probably drew its peoples from both locations. Therefore, we might expect the "average" ancient Egyptian to show DNA markers and the like from any of a number of earlier populations in different locations.

    I'm also not really sure why certain people think that the first question is of great importance. As for the second, I think that would only be important to somebody pushing a racist agenda of one kind or another.
     
  11. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

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    If you look at Table 1 in the OP you will see that most of the DNA of the Ancient Egyptian mummies that was analyzed have Sub-Saharan African affinities. They compared population affinity for Sub-Saharan Africa, Eurasia and Asia. All but one of the mummies was predominately Sub-Saharan in affinity. Sub-Saharan Africa in this context refers to all regions south of the Sahara including the Sudan and the Horn of Africa. There were only a few mummies studied but studies on the remains from multiple grave sites in Egypt indicates a population continuity between the royal mummies and the general Egyptian population. So like the skeletal evidence the genetic evidence indicates a biological affinity of the Ancient Egyptians with more Southerly Africans.

    I do not have a political or racist agenda. Whatever the Ancient Egyptians looked like I don't think it says anything about the intelligence of any group nor that any group is superior or inferior. There is a history of racist ideas about Africa that attempted to discount ancient Egypt as an authentically African civilization or make racist assumptions about what their racial makeup says about human nature. Some older movies have depicted the ancient Egyptians as White with Black slaves and there were racist theories such as the Dynastic Race Theory and the Hamitic Hypothesis that relied on the belief in the racial inferiority of Black people to make claims about the ancient Egyptians being a Caucasoid people who enslaved Blacks, viewed them as enemies or conquered the Negroid populations of the Nile Valley and ruled them as the superior race.

    As far as Middle Eastern folk I think there was some overlap between Northern Egypt and the Near East as well as Western Saharan populations even in pre-Dynastic times and that Near Eastern immigrants gradually came to Egypt over the course of Egyptian history (including the Hyksos invaders) but I think that Asiatic groups didn't have a strong or predominant presence in Egypt until the Late Period and really became the predominant group during the Islamic period following the Arab conquest in the 7th century. The architects of Ancient Egyptian Civilization came from Southern Egypt known as Upper Egypt. They unified with the North leading to the rule of the Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom. According to the historical records of the Ancient Egyptians their ancestors came to the Nile Valley from somewhere further South in Africa in a land called Punt. Archeologists have identified Punt as being in the region of Somalia and Eritrea.

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  12. Bells Staff Member

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    I still do not understand why you are attempting to define ancient history by applying the modern construct of "race".

    And your comment is very broad. Ancient Egypt encompasses several thousand years. Are you looking at the civilisation pre-dynasty? Early dynasty? Mid? Late? Given the region has had people, communities and civilisations living in the region for around 120,000 years, you need to be a bit more specific.

    Because the population changed, given its position and situation, given it was invaded from the South and the North.

    The studies of looking at a few mummies, will never give a definitive picture of the genetic make up of "Ancient Egypt".
     
  13. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    What does "indigenous African" mean? 'Africa' is a geographical expression, not a biological one.

    I think that we can get a pretty good idea of what ancient Egyptians looked like in the Roman period from the Fayum mummy portraits.

    https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1CAKVPC_enUS668US668&biw=1188&bih=509&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=y0V9XIr6D4zS-gSB24_ICg&q=fayum mummy portraits&oq=fayum portraits&gs_l=img.1.4.0l4j0i7i30l3j0i5i30l3.229420.236516..240176...0.0..0.77.994.15......1....1..gws-wiz-img.......0i67j0i8i7i30.wlnhvsOATxs

    Their physical appearance isn't a whole lot different than the appearance of Egyptians today.

    Some argue that these individuals are marked by a big intrusion of Greek blood during the Ptolomaic period and hence don't represent native Egyptian stock. It's true that many Greeks did move to Egypt in Hellenistic times, but most of them remained in Alexandria which at its peak had about half a million people and was probably always more Greek than Egyptian during Hellenistic times. That being said, the population of Egypt as a whole is estimated at 10 million during this period and its racial composition probably wasn't changed all that much by the Greek influx, especially in rural areas like the Fayum.

    (The ancient Greeks called Fayum 'Krokodilopolis'... city of crocodiles!)

    It's notable how similar the faces in the Fayum mummy portraits are to the faces of Egyptians today. This despite the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, who changed Egyptian language, culture and religion profoundly. So, if the arrival of the Arabs didn't change Egyptian physical appearance so much, why should we believe that the arrival of the Greeks did?

    Bottom line, I'm inclined to think that the Egyptians have probably looked pretty much as they do today long into the past.

    Would I call them black African? No, not really. Probably some individual Egyptians approximated that type, those with Nubian ancestry perhaps. Would I call them Europeans? No, though many of the Greeks of Hellenistic times certainly were. Would I call them Middle Eastern, similar to the Arabs, Phoenicians and Caananites? That's probably closer. Their closest relatives were probably the Berbers of North Africa.

    So what race were the ancient Egyptians? I'd probably call them mixed in that regard, with ancestral elements from all directions. Or alternatively, maybe they are derived from a much more ancient stock of early modern humans, from which blacks deviated by becoming darker, whites deviated by becoming lighter, and out of which east Asians developed their own unique adaptations. (That's a theory that I personally like, but I've been flamed in the past for mentioning it on Sciforums. It's just a hypothesis though, not necessarily the truth.)

    The prehistoric development of the human race was probably exceedingly complex and we will probably never fully understand it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
  14. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

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    I said before that I was referring to the Early Dynastic to New Kingdom Period:

    I do not think that race is a valid biological construct however there are certainly differences in physical appearance between populations. So a question of "What did the Ancient Egyptians look like?" can be answered by looking at scientific research and artwork without advancing any sort of racist ideological agenda or giving validity to the concept of race.

    A few mummies can not tell you much about the general population however there is evidence from craniometric research of population continuity in Egypt from the pre-Dynastic to the New Kingdom Period and evidence the the royal families of Ancient Egypt were representative of the general population.

    Formation of the Egyptian state

    Contra early Egyptologists (Petrie, 1920, 1939; Emery, 1961; Kantor, 1965), archaeological continuity is currently postulated between the Predynastic periods and the EDyn (Hassan, 1988; Kemp, 1989; Bard, 1989, 1994; Midant-Reynes, 2000a). Although the EDyn samples (both EDyn and OK) show morphological similarities with the preceding populations (Fig. 2), each sample does exhibit certain distinct characteristics. Lying high on PC1 in Figure
    2, the EDyn sample and OK samples have relatively longer and broader cranial vaults. Furthermore the EDyn sample is characterized by their relatively broad faces, thereby allowing successful group delineation by DFA (Table 5). In concordance with Keita (1990), the EDyn crania studied also demonstrated morphological heterogeneity, with the small number of crania that are misclassified, being misclassified by DFA into all potential time periods. Significant genetic pairwise differences are found not only between the EDyn and all other pooled cemetery time periods (Table 6), but also between the EDyn sample and all single cemetery samples (Table 7).

    These results suggest that the EDyn do form a distinct morphological pattern. Their overlap with other Egyptian samples (in PC space, Fig. 2) suggests that although their morphology is distinctive, the pattern does overlap with the other time periods. These results therefore do not support the Petrie concept of a "Dynastic race" (Petrie, 1939; Derry, 1956). Instead, the results suggest that the Egyptian state was not the product of mass movement of populations into the Egyptian Nile region, but rather that it was the result of primarily indigenous development combined with prolonged small-scale migration, potentially from trade, military, or other contacts.

    Source: Population Continuity or Population Change: Formation of the Ancient Egyptian State AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 132:501–509 (2007)


    Indigenous African is analogous to Indigenous American or Native American. So we're talking about populations of humans that are native to Africa vs. coming from other continents.

    Residents of Fayum probably had more Middle Eastern and European ancestry due to settlement during the Late Period and Ptolmaic Period than the New Kingdom Period which was ruled by native Egyptians before the foreign incursions. The Ptolemies planted colonies all over Egypt, especially Northern Egypt during their reign which lasted for about 300 years.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ptolemaic_Kingdom#Establishment

    The early Ptolemies did not disturb the religion or the customs of the Egyptians. They built magnificent new temples for the Egyptian gods and soon adopted the outward display of the Pharaohs of old. During the reign of Ptolemies II and III, thousands of Macedonian veterans were rewarded with grants of farm lands, and Macedonians were planted in colonies and garrisons or settled themselves in the villages throughout the country. Upper Egypt, farthest from the centre of government, was less immediately affected, even though Ptolemy I established the Greek colony of Ptolemais Hermiou to be its capital. But within a century, Greek influence had spread through the country and intermarriage had produced a large Greco-Egyptian educated class. Nevertheless, the Greeks always remained a privileged minority in Ptolemaic Egypt. They lived under Greek law, received a Greek education, were tried in Greek courts, and were citizens of Greek cities.

    Between the Late Period and the start of the Roman Period was about 500 years which is plenty of time for population settlement to have occurred. I also don't think that Fayum was a great representation of all of Egypt at the time. While not as photogenic as the Fayum Mummy Portaits the Ancient Egyptians did leave us representations of themselves in their art including tomb paintings and statues. The statues themselves when combined with craniofacial research can give us an indication of what kind of faces were in Egypt.





    Question: What is your basis for stating that the Ancient Egyptian statuary is "Somali-like" in appearance?

    Keita: Best way to think of this is in terms of parallelism or microconvergent evolution. Somali males are predominantly of E group lineages; African in origin. Look for yourself at the Egyptian statuary for the architecture of faces if you trust the statuary, and look at Greek or Roman statuary. Go over the faces point by point, of course there is variability, but look for a distillation. Look at faces of Oromo, a range of Nilotic folk etc, and you might be able to see what I mean.

    King Tut Bust

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    Somali Man

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    Alexander the Great Bust

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    Bust of Augustus

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    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
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  15. Howard Carter Registered Member

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    In addition to what EJ pointed out, my understanding is that the Fayyum portraits represent elite individuals. They could very well have some native Egyptian ancestry in addition to Macedonian etc., but concluding that they represent typical Egyptians during the periods of Macedonian and Roman domination (let alone thousands of years before) is like concluding that modern Brazilians must not be of predominantly African and Native American descent since those of European descent are over-represented among that country's socioeconomic elites.

    It's been common knowledge for years now that dark skin like African (as well as southern Indian and Australasian) people possess is the ancestral condition for Homo sapiens sapiens, with lighter skin evolving later once humans migrated into northern Eurasia. In fact, if the recent "Cheddar Man" findings are any indication, there were still some Europeans with dark skin on par with Africans as recently as the Mesolithic.
     
  16. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    (perhaps it would be apropos to have a discussion of probabilities and confidence levels----perhaps, this ain't the place for that?)

    dark skin ... is the ancestral condition for Homo sapiens sapiens,
    To the best of my knowledge: There is no proof of that.
    Or do you know different?

    Don't lose the if

    It seems that
    when an hypothesis becomes "common knowledge"
    Many seem to either not know that it derived from an hypothesis, nor what an hypothesis is.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
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  17. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

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    There is genetic evidence that light skin is a relatively recent mutation and given that anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa the archeological record suggests that early humans were dark-skinned.

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/10/new-gene-variants-reveal-evolution-human-skin-color

    Researchers agree that our early australopithecine ancestors in Africa probably had light skin beneath hairy pelts. “If you shave a chimpanzee, its skin is light,” says evolutionary geneticist Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania, the lead author of the new study. “If you have body hair, you don’t need dark skin to protect you from ultraviolet [UV] radiation.”

    Until recently, researchers assumed that after human ancestors shed most body hair, sometime before 2 million years ago, they quickly evolved dark skin for protection from skin cancer and other harmful effects of UV radiation. Then, when humans migrated out of Africa and headed to the far north, they evolved lighter skin as an adaptation to limited sunlight. (Pale skin synthesizes more vitamin D when light is scarce.)

    The skin color of the ancient Egyptians themselves has been discussed by several scholars. Cheikh Anta Diop developed a melanin dosage test which he used on mummies to determine their skintone.

    More recently scientists have analyzed the skin of mummies and determined that they were dark-skinned:

    Skin sections showed particularly good tissue preservation, although cellular outlines were never
    distinct. Although much of the epidermis had already separated from the dermis, the remaining
    epidermis often was preserved well (Fig. 1). The basal epithelial cells were packed with
    melanin as expected for specimens of Negroid origin
    . In the dermis, the hair follicles, hair, and
    sebaceous and sweat glands were readily apparent (Fig. 2). Blood vessels, but no red blood cells,
    and small peripheral nerves were identified unambiguously (Fig. 3). The subcutaneous layer
    showed loose connective tissue fibers attached to the dermis, and fat cell remnants were observed.

    Source: Determination of optimal rehydration, fixation and staining methods for histological and immunohistochemical analysis of mummified soft tissues. Biotechnic & Histochemistry 2005, Vol. 80, No. 1, Pages 7-13

    This is consistent with the ancient Egyptians depicting themselves in tomb paintings and busts with dark skin (medium or reddish brown). Some of the ancient Greek authors such as Aristotle and Herodotus also commented on the dark skin of the Ancient Egyptians.
     
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  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    There's overwhelming evidence, everything from the current genetic diversity and geographical distribution of the darker skinned to the medical consequences of unprotected sun exposure at the latitudes of human origin to the geographical distribution and genetic chronology of the light skinned extant.

    "Proof" is of course unavailable. This is science, not math.
     
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  19. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Darker skin as protection from uv radiation
    https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.0000027

    ...........................
    Claiming to know the skin color of ancestors is going way beyond the current scientific abilities.
    It seems that we have a genetic ability to change skin pigmentation over time
    which begs the question:
    How much time?

    or were neanderthals always light skinned?
    how about heidelbergensis?
    how about denisovans?
    how about the as yet unidentified provider of other genes?
     
  20. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

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    What do you make of the scientific research I presented on the histological analysis of ancient Egyptian skin? Skin color can flip back and fourth. We don't know the exact skin color of all ancient people but the people living in tropical climates usually have dark skin.

    Question: Were the Ancient Egyptians predominately dark-skinned throughout the Dynastic period and were they predominately African biologically (a pictorial reference to modern populations to illustrate what the majority looked like would be helpful)?


    Keita: No one can say exactly what colour they were, but one might reasonably say that the typical Upper Egyptian to Nubian color would have been the modal colour in most of the country.
     
  21. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    As posted above while egypt is a modern construct, the civilizations of the nile valley were most likely trading with each other for thousands of years. The nile is over 4000 miles long and the people living in the valley most likely had a range of skin tones from average mediterranean to dark brown.
    It seems that the middle kingdom did not have much of an army and were defeated and invaded by the hyksos(shepherd kings?--jews?). After which, it seems that a Nubian king reunified egypt and modernized their army, kicked the hyksos out and created the egyptian empire, conquering much of the eastern mediterranean, and some of the middle east (this was then, the new kingdom).
    However the mummy dna (a link to which was posted above) was claimed to be mostly related to the peoples of the eastern mediterranean.
    It seems likely that when the Nubians were ruled by lower egyptians, then they were ruled by lighter skinned people, and when the lower egyptians were ruled by the nubians, then they were ruled by a darker skinned people.
    Lumping their long and complex history under the rubric "egyptians" seems to lack any definable detail and therefore does not seem to work for me

    As to the faces of the statues:
    (personal anecdote)
    I used to sculpt with a group of artists and sculptors. We would gather together and share the expense of the models and refreshments. What i found was that the artist would morph the models in the direction of themselves. The older guys made thee model look older, a Taiwanese fellow made the models look more oriental, etc...

    So the statues may have reflected the sculptors/painters as much as the people depicted in the statues/paintings.

    The eye of the beholder most likely influenced the creation of the artwork and most likely influences the perception of the person viewing the artwork.

    So, bottom line as to skin tone of the "Egyptians"
    ---------------I do not have one. I can not give you one.
    ...................
    you might find this interesting?
    https://www.quora.com/Are-Nubians-the-descendants-of-ancient-Egyptians
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  22. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

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    There can be no question that there was a civilization in the Nile Valley within the boundaries of what we today call Egypt that was a distinct and unique culture whose Dynasties have been lumped in to a category known as Ancient Egypt (some call it Khemet). There appears to be some overlap between the pre-Dynastic cultures of Upper Egypt and Nubia but throughout the Dynastic Period these were two distinctive cultures with Egypt developing in the Nile Valley and Nubia extending in to the Northern Sudan.

    I specifically asked about the study I cited on the histological analysis of Ancient Egyptian skin. This is scientific evidence that the ancient Egyptians were dark-skinned. Keita believes that the phenotype of the average Upper Egyptian represents what the ancient Egyptians looked like during the Dynastic Period in most of the country. There was no doubt some admixture between Egyptians and Nubians during Dynastic times as well as overlap between Libyans and Asiatics in Lower Egypt. Given the geographic proximity of Egypt at a cross-roads of continents this would not be surprising to see some population overlap from the west, east and south of Egypt.

    What is interesting is in their art the ancient Egyptians depicted themselves as distinct from their neighbors.

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    In this mural from the tomb of Seti I you have 4 distinct groups: Egyptians, Syro-Palestinians (Asiatics), Nubians and Libyans. Among the groups there are Asiatics with two shades of skin color and the Egyptian God Ra with the same skintone as the Egyptians. The Egyptians depicted themselves as uniformly medium brown. So they saw themselves on the darker end of the spectrum. That is not to say that there were no very light or very dark Egyptians but brown was probably seen as an average shade, the skin color of most Egyptians at the time.

    As for DNA I did address that in the opening post. Check this research again:

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    You will see that there are several methodological flaws pointed out for the genetic study that you referenced. They used a very small sample size and their conception of African is problematic. Some of the genetic lineages they claim are Asian in origin are actually African and they have a stereotypical view of Sub-Saharan African which doesn't include people from the Sudan and the Horn of Africa who are just as African as West and Central Africans. Other genetic research pointed out by the authors above show that ancient Egyptian mummies from the New Kingdom have Sub-Saharan African affinities.

    I get your point about artists having a style that that is influenced by their culture however the ancient Egyptian artists like other groups were clearly capable of depicting people as they appeared. The ancient Egyptians left behind sculptors of their leaders with distinctive features that can be seen in Southern Egypt today as well as East Africa in general among the peoples of the Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

    I think the contrast between King Tut, the Somali man and the Roman Emperor Augustus supports the point that Keita made. Notice the low nose bride and nose shape of Tut and the Somalian vs. the high nose bride and thin pointy shape of Augustus.

    Art objects are not generally used by biological anthropologists. They are suspect as data and their interpretation highly dependent on stereotyped thinking. However, because art has often been used to comment on the physiognomies of ancient Egyptians, a few remarks are in order. A review of literature and the sculpture indicates characteristics that also can be found in the Horn of (East) Africa (see, e.g., Petrie 1939; Drake 1987; Keita 1993). Old and Middle Kingdom statuary shows a range of characteristics; many, if not most, individuals depicted in the art have variations on the narrow-nosed, narrow-faced morphology also seen in various East Africans. This East African anatomy, once seen as being the result of a mixture of different "races," is better understood as being part of the range of indigenous African variation. - The Geographical Origins and Population Relationships of Early Ancient Egyptians by S.O.Y Keita and A.J Boyce

    This scientific research should be addressed in any serious discussion of the topic.
     
  23. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

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