Even today, a significant number of mainstream Egyptologists, anthropologists, historians and Hollywood moviemakers continue to deny African people’s role in humankind’s first and greatest civilization in ancient Egypt. This whitewashing of history negatively impacts Black people and our image in the world. There remains a vital need to correct the misinformation of our achievements in antiquity.
Senegalese scholar Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop (1923-1986) dedicated his life to scientifically challenging Eurocentric and Arab-centric views of precolonial African culture, specifically those that suggested the ancient civilization of Egypt did not have its origins in Black Africa.
Since some people continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence that indicates ancient Egypt was built, ruled, and populated by dark-skinned African people, Atlanta Blackstar will highlight 10 of the ways Diop proved the ancient Egyptians were Black.
Physical Anthropology Evidence
Based on his review of scientific literature, Diop concluded that most of the skeletons and skulls of the ancient Egyptians clearly indicate they were Negroid people with features very similar to those of modern Black Nubians and other people of the Upper Nile and East Africa. He called attention to studies that included examinations of skulls from the predynastic period (6000 B.C.) that showed a greater percentage of Black characteristics than any other type.
From this information, Diop reasoned that a Black race existed in Egypt at that time and did not migrate at a later stage as some previous theories had suggested.
Melanin Dosage Test
Diop invented a method for determining the level of melanin in the skin of human beings. Melanin is the chemical responsible for skin pigmentation and it is preserved for millions of years in the skins of fossil animals.
Diop conducted the melanin test on Egyptian mummies at the Museum of Man in Paris, and determined the levels found in the dermis and epidermis of a small sample would classify all ancient Egyptians as “unquestionably among the Black races.”
According to Diop, osteological measurements (analysis of bones) are perhaps the least misleading of the criteria accepted in physical anthropology for classifying the races of men. A first study of this kind was completed by a German archeologist Karl Richard Lepsius at the end of the 19th century. The Lepsius canon, which distinguishes the bodily proportions of various racial groups, categories the “ideal Egyptian” as “short-armed and of Negroid or Negrito physical type.”
Evidence From Blood Types
Diop found that even after hundreds of years of intermixing with foreign invaders, the blood type of modern Egyptians is the “same group B as the populations of Western Africa on the Atlantic seaboard and not the A2 group characteristic of the white race prior to any crossbreeding.”
Diop noted that “Egyptians had only one term to designate themselves: KMT, which literally means ‘the Blacks.’ This is the strongest term existing in the Pharaonic tongue to indicate blackness.”
He added: “The term is a collective noun which thus described the whole people of Pharaonic Egypt as a Black people.”
For further evidence, Diop focused on both the monuments and how the ancient Egyptians represented themselves in their art.
Diop found that in ancient Egypt there existed “African cultural commonalities” of matriarchy, totemism, divine kinship, and cosmology.”
Through a study of circumcision and totemism, he offers detailed data on the cultural unity between Egypt and the rest of Africa. He noted: “Historians are in general agreement that the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Colchians, and people of the Southern Levant were among the only people on earth practicing circumcision, which confirms their cultural affiliations, if not their ethnic affiliation.”
He added: “The Egyptian style of (adolescent) circumcision was different from how circumcision is practiced in other parts of the world, but similar to how it is practiced throughout the African continent.”
Diop also demonstrates that “Black or Negro” was a divine epithet invariably used to refer to the chief benevolent gods of Egypt, while evil spirits were depicted as red. InEurasian culture, good is described as white and evil as black.
Diop wrote: “The Bible tells us that ‘…the sons of Ham [were] Cush and Mizraim [i.e. Egypt], and Phut, and Canaan. And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah and Sabtechah.”
According to biblical tradition, Ham was the father of the Black race. Diop asserted that “generally speaking, all Semitic tradition (Jewish and Arab) class ancient Egypt with the countries of the Blacks.”
In a detailed study of languages, Diop illustrated the strength of the cultural ties between ancient Egypt and its African neighbors by comparing the Egyptian language with Wolof, a Senegalese language spoken in West Africa near the Atlantic Ocean.
Diop clearly demonstrates that ancient Egyptian, modern Coptic of Egypt, and Wolof are related, with the latter two having their origin in the former.
“The kinship between ancient Egyptian and the languages of Africa,” Diop wrote in the General History of Africa, “is not a hypothetical but a demonstrable fact which it is impossible for modern scholarship to thrust aside.”
He believed the kinship to be genealogical, and he provided examples:
In ancient Egyptian “kef” means “to grasp, to take a strip (of something)”; in Wolof it means “to seize a prey.”
“Feh” means “go away” in ancient Egyptian; in Wolof it means “to rush off.”
To further demonstrate similarity between the two languages, Diop also examined verb forms, demonstratives, and phonemes. The results, he found, showed little difference between the two.