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.


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

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

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

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

    1 vote(s)
  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)
  1. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

    It's not a question of "African influence." Ancient Egypt was organically African. Studying Early Egypt in its African context is not "Afrocentric" but simply correct. - Shomarka Keita

    Were the Ancient Egyptians Black? This question has been consistently asked since the dawn of Egyptology. The question is of interest to those involved in the discussion of race and intelligence. If Blacks created an advanced civilization then surely this is proof that they have the same intelligence as Whites and other groups. European scholars have pondered the significance of a Black African Egypt for centuries with some accepting the view and many denying it throughout history proposing alternative positions such as The Dynastic Race Theory, The Hamitic Hypothesis, The Mediterranean "Brown" Race, a Nordic Desert Empire and even claiming that ancient Aliens built the pyramids!

    "Just think,"....."that this race of Black men, today our slave and the object of our scorn, is the very race to which we owe our arts, sciences, and even the use of speech! Just imagine, finally, that it is in the midst of people who call themselves the greatest friends of liberty and humanity that one has approved the most barbarous slavery, and questioned whether Black men have the same kind of intelligence as whites! - Count Constatine de Volney

    The subject of the race of the ancient Egyptians was brought up at the 1974 UNESCO Symposium in Cairo. There some of the top Egyptologists in the world reviewed the research of Cheikh Anta Diop and Théophile Obenga , two African scholars, who stated that Ancient Egypt should be recognized as a Black African civilization. This position has become known as the Black Egyptian Hypothesis. The position of the Symposium was that the research was too inconclusive to determine what the race of the Ancient Egyptians were with the majority of Egyptologists stating their belief that Ancient Egypt was a Multiracial Civilization with different racial types present within the populace. This position is also presented in modern, mainstream Egyptology books.

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    The Racial and Ethnic Identity of the Egyptians

    There are a number of different ways in which we can define the ancient Egyptians themselves as a distinct racial and ethnic group, but the question of their roots and their sense of their own identity has provoked considerable debate. Linguistically, they belonged to the Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic) family, but this is simply another way of saying that, as their geographical position implies, their language had some similarities to contemporary languages both in parts of Africa and in the Near East.

    Anthropological studies suggest that the predynastic population included a mixture of racial types (negroid, Mediterranean, and European), but it is the question of the skeletal evidence at the beginning of the pharaonic period that has proved to be most controversial over the years. Whereas the anthropological evidence from this date was once interpreted, by Bryan Emery and others, as the rapid conquest of Egypt by people from the east whose remains were racially distinct from the indigenous Egyptians, it is now argued by some scholars that there may have been a much slower period of demographic change, probably involving the gradual infiltration of a different physical type from Syria-Palestine, via the eastern Delta.

    The iconography of the Egyptians’ depictions of foreigners suggests that for much of their history they saw themselves as midway between the black Africans and the paler Asiatics. It is also clear, however, that neither Nubian nor Syro-Palestinian origins were regarded as particularly disadvantageous factors in terms of individuals’ status or career prospects, particularly in the cosmopolitan climate of the New Kingdom, when Asiatic religious cults and technological developments were particularly widely accepted. Thus the demonstrably negroid features of the high official Maiherpri did not prevent him from attaining the special privilege of a burial in the Valley of the Kings at about the time of Thutmose 111 (1479-1425 bc). In the same way, a man called Aper-el, whose name indicates his Near Eastern roots, rose to the rank of vizier (the highest civil office below that of the king himself) in the late 18th Dynasty.

    Source: The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt p. 309

    What can DNA tell us about the race or biological affinity of the ancient Egyptians? There have been recent studies on the DNA of mummies that have given implications about population affinity. One of the recent studies that made news was Schuenemann et al. (2017) which concluded that ancient Northern Egyptians had more Near Eastern genetic affinities who gained Sub-Saharan affinity during the slave trade of the Islamic period. The accuracy of this study has been challenged recently by other scholars. In their paper Jean-Philippe Gourdine, S.O.Y. Keita, Jean-Luc Gourdine and Alain Anselin provided genetic evidence that several Ancient Egyptian mummies from the New Kingdom had Sub-Saharan African affinities.

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    What does the research indicate to you? Does the recent DNA studies on New Kingdom mummies provide sufficient evidence combined with the archeological, linguistic, anthropological and artistic evidence that the ancient Egyptians were a Black African people? Were they Multiracial or belonged to some other group? Is discussing this topic at all buying in to racial classification schemes or racist in and of itself?

    I would like to get some feedback on the research in this opening post from the board. Thoughts?
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
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  3. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    what use is an idiot who sits in a corner shouting back at another idiot ?

    Discussing the science is not buying into dogma games of power & control exploitation.
    however, lack of ability to have correlating data of scientific authenticity tends to negate the validity of the discussion.

    simple example

    how many DNA labs were used in blind tests ?
    where is that data ?

    there is always more people trying to exploit money or power than there are scientists seeking to study the science.
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  5. Howard Carter Registered Member

    I kinda feel this is an incoherent reply. What is the point you are trying to make?
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  7. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    you want a "im with them" or "im with you" black or white statement to appeal to your ...."what" ?
    did i not paint inside your lines of compliance ?

    this is how you feel


    note strawman ego-centric posturing to avoid talking science of 'blind DNA testing in multiple labs around the world', 'as data' being posted... ?

    or am i reading your post wrong ? if i am interpreting you wrong please explain what you mean.

    on one side is science
    on the other side is all the crap

    ... ?

    science isn't supposed to be easy
    if you want everything sticky labeled with a racial political agenda painted on the outside then your not interested in the science.

    emotively waiving your arms in the air claiming you don't understand while playing a victim posture does not appeal to my intellect.

    if you do not understand the topic and its surrounding environment then you may wish to read up on it prior to asserting your need for clarification on a topic you have not bothered to study.

    please feel free in asking a specific question that is not just you posturing your own emotional discontent as an assertive semi rhetoric question.

    p.s i realise you may have been at the end of a long day when reading my post and the subject obviously has some very heavy stuff in it.(real nasty triggers and related lifelong abusive stuff etc) lots of nasty stuff attached...
    there is a horrific amount of historical and current racial issues that is human psychology etc...
    try and keep in mind, the scientific side cant afford to be bogged down in singular instances of moral judgement for the individuals own circumstance(or political ideologies, cults religions etc) otherwise the topic of the true science is allowed to be diverted to be the tool of nefarious people and groups.
    ... and at such a point, what a waste of all your years of study
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
  8. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

    Why do you feel that the scientists need a blind test from multiple DNA labs to present accurate data? What do you make of the data that they've already presented?
  9. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Full disclosure

    Have not seen any data referred to in this thread

    From the data I have seen in other (worldwide testing) DNA examinations the main consensus about what the DNA "tells" - they were human

    Tells nothing about social arrangements, Intelligence and a whole bunch of crap stuffed in there


    Any pretence otherwise is pure fiction designed to claim superiority

    Or poor bugger me I am disadvantaged I need assistance


    Yes but hopefully to dismiss it

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  10. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member


    You can't miss the data unless you didn't really read the OP. It's right there. Here is a link to the article this thread is about:

    Ancient Egyptian Genomes from northern Egypt: Further discussion

    I didn't say anything about a genetic intelligence test. Why do you feel that this thread is racist. No group of people were insulted and I do not have a racist agenda. Surely we can talk about population affinities of an ancient group of people and their relevance to modern society without believing those who want to talk about it have a racist agenda. I do believe that there were a history of racist ideas that led to the denial of Egypt's Africanity which were motivated by a desire to denigrate people of African descent. Most people labeled Afrocentrists seem to have an Egalitarian agenda rather than a racist one. They want to see Ancient Egyptian civilization recognized as an African civilization to place it in its proper historical context.

    Take Molefi Kete Asante for example:

    This topic is relevant to professors of African studies because they are trying to defend the cultures of Africa. They are really combating racism not promoting it. Of course the ancient Egyptians like any other ancient people were human. But what did they look like? We should be able to ask that question without promoting a racial supremacist ideology.
  11. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Call it Human Civilization and you have a point

    Perhaps even human civilization living in Africa OK

    But no such animal as African Civilization

    I don't think it is racist but the terminology needs to be more tidy

    I think I understand why, to me, it seems to be untidy and when I read such text I translate in my mind to a, again to me, tidy version

    But the habit I fear is to ingrained in language to disappear any time soon

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  12. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    What, exactly is your position here?

    What we call Egypt today is a modern construct

    When you refer to "ancient Egypt", did you have a particular time in mind?
    Upper or lower?
    Or are you lumping everything bce together?

  13. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

    The ancient Egyptians were human and regardless of what they look like no group of people is better than another. I think we can agree on that. I don't support any Black Supremacist or any other type of racist ideology. The interest of this thread is in what the ancient Egyptians actually looked like without advancing any sort of political or social agenda.

    The time period I'm referring to is the Early Dynastic to New Kingdom Period (3150 BC - 1070 BC).

    My position is that the ancient Egyptians were indigenous Northeast Africans. I believe they were biologically most related to their neighbors to the south in the Sudan and the Horn of Africa with a medium to dark brown complexion on average. The anthropological, archeological, linguistic, artistic and genetic evidence supports this position. There was also some connection to the Western Sahara and the Near East especially in Northern Egypt and I think that over time there was gradual immigration from Libya and the Near East in to Egypt. After the New Kingdom period there was more immigration in to Egypt following the invasions during the Greco-Roman and Islamic periods with a population boom in the Middle Ages leading to most Egyptians speaking Arabic and becoming Muslims with the Coptic Christians being closer linguistically and culturally to the Egyptians of antiquity.
  14. Bells Staff Member

    But that is not how you presented your opening post in this thread.

    For example, you made this claim earlier:

    You did not have to.

    Because you left this bomb in the OP:

    I mean, what?

    Your opening post in this thread was not an attempt to figure out how Ancient Egyptians looked like.

    It was a discussion about whether they were black or not.
  15. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

    Well let me qualify my stance again. I am asking whether or not the ancient Egyptians were Black or what they actually looked like. As for intelligence I was making the point that the reason the question of whether the ancient Egyptians were Black became an issue in society in the first place was because it was relevant to the subject of race and intelligence. My personal view is that human populations have the same genetic potential for intelligence. African cultures just so happen to have been denigrated and insulted to the point where the question of the race of the people of an ancient civilization like Egypt became considered as an important topic to Western scholars. So I want to address the controversy.
  16. Howard Carter Registered Member

    I believe when EgalitarianJay says "black", he means indigenous African. Many of the people who oppose characterizing ancient Egyptians as "black" argue instead that they were fundamentally Eurasian (typically West Asian, aka "Middle Eastern") in origin rather than being native to Africa like so-called "black people".

    There is a tradition of racialists (e.g. J. Phillipe Rushton and Richard Lynn) arguing that human populations whose ancestors settled in the colder climates of northern Eurasia adapted by evolving greater intelligence than those who stayed in the tropical and subtropical latitudes. Therefore, they believe any civilization that emerged in a tropical or subtropical environment must have been the work of migrants from colder regions, since people native to hotter climates would lack the intelligence to erect a civilization of their own. That is why so many racialists insist that any civilization in Africa (e.g. Egypt, Kush, Mali, Great Zimbabwe, etc.) must have been brought there by biologically non-African people.
  17. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    What's the point of the poll?
    Archeology and Anthropology are not properly conducted "in the context of" anything except historical time.
    Egypt was probably the oldest empire in Africa, but several others arose independently, as well as the ones breaking free of Egyptian domination.
    With all the warring and raiding among ancient peoples, DNA samples from any given place is unlikely to yield any more information than the degree of mixing between particular populations, and perhaps an approximate timeline of encounters and migration and population shifts.
    Since the only ancient Egyptian DNA available is of a few rulers, it yields no information regarding the general population.
    Then they have a very poor definition of "civilization" - which is not a product of intelligence, but of opportunity and insecurity, which grows into aggression, so the civilizations become empires, whose descendants then measure everything in history by the standard of their own civilizations, however dysfunctional.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
  18. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    is a study of dna from mummies of the late middle and new kingdoms
    dna does not preserve well in the valley of the nile,

    We really do not know much about the indigenous peoples of the nile valley.
    As the sahara grasslands dried up most of the people who lived there left---some north some south some west and some east into the valley of the nile.
    when they reached the natural carrying capacity of the land, they turned to intensive agriculture, and a more settled lifestyle then to the development of the kingdoms of upper and lower egypt who were occasionally at war with each other.
    Even after the unification, there were still vast regional differences,
    which can still be found in the dna of their modern descendants.
  19. Bells Staff Member

    Well you have a fair idea based on their artwork, etc. And you answered that question in your opening post.

    But most importantly, you are applying a modern application of "race" to an ancient people and epoch where "race" as a construct, was not important or valued.

    For example:

    It became important for racists.

    You are addressing it by approaching it from what can only be a racist construct.

    For example, you have every appearance of approaching this from the standpoint of saying 'see, black people had great civilisations, therefore they are on par with white people'.

    Perhaps if you think about it, you can explain why you think determining their "race" is so important. Because we have some idea genetically. But you haven't addressed why it is so important in the context of this thread and the opening post in this thread.
  20. Bells Staff Member

    I would lead more towards the Kingdom of Kush, which neighboured the Egyptian empire. And we know that several Nubians were also Egyptian Pharaoh's as well.

    But we should also keep in mind that Africa was rich in ancient empires, Kush being one. I am more partial to the Mali Empire, who left behind hundreds of thousands of manuscripts..
  21. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    I was under the impression that those kingdoms were a little bit younger. But longevity is less significant that the fact that they're all independent. Civilizations seem to spring up anywhere that people have been farming for a while. Nothing to do with DNA - which is so similar anyway that it wouldn't tell you anything about how people lived and organized themselves.
    Ancient history is just not going to feed anyone's modern political ends.
  22. EgalitarianJay Registered Senior Member

    Personally I think it should not be important at all and the reason it became important to Western scholars was indeed for racist reasons. Taking Constantine De Volney's quote for example, he was in awe of the physical features of the Sphinx because it challenged his racist assumptions about Black Africans. To him the features were unquestionably Negroid and therefore this meant that the ancient Egyptians were Black and had the same type of intelligence as Whites. What a particular people looked like should not be important at all and gives the implication that a group needs an advanced civilization to "prove" that they are intelligent. I do not believe that. I believe that human societies are complex and that they all display an intelligence that indicates our commonality as a species.

    I agree with the anthropological research below:

    Cliff notes:

    1. There are adaptive traits all human populations have in common (ex. salinity, iron content and blood pressure and other biochemical and physiological features).

    2. Human intelligence has adaptive value.

    3. Modern humans evolved from Homo Erectus based on mandibular evidence.

    4. Based on Archeological evidence human populations during the Pleistocene Epoch shared hunting strategies.

    5. Modern humans evolved articular speech which distinguishes them from the Apes and all human populations share the evolutionary trademarks of this development (ex. Broca's area).

    6. Human brain size attained modern levels and ceased to expand during the Middle Stone Age.

    7. All human children learn language during the same age span and each group is capable of learning other languages.

    8. Differences in human life ways around the world arose so recently from the perspective of evolutionary history that there has been no time for any differential adaptive response to have occurred.

    That being said there is a widely help claim that saying that the ancient Egyptians were a dark-skinned, indigenous African people ("Black") is actually false and pseudohistorical. Two people have already voted in the poll saying that they were not. At the 1974 UNCESCO Symposium most of the Egyptologists said that they were Multiracial or that the evidence was inconclusive. You said that the artwork and genetic evidence gives some implications and that is really all I am trying to get at. What are the implications of the research? What is the truth? I don't believe that an answer has any implications for the intelligence of any group. In the thread "Race is Real?" I provided genetic evidence that human populations are not unevenly differentiated in genes related to intelligence. No racists that lurk the board have been able to respond to this research.

    Here is an email from Scott Maceachern who addressed the issue of the "race" of the Ancient Egyptians and what he thought of me debating the subject:

    What do you think of his response?
  23. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    I'm still trying to figure out its relevance to --- what?

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