e-Book Ancient Egypt in Africa (Encounters with Ancient Egypt) download

e-Book Ancient Egypt in Africa (Encounters with Ancient Egypt) download

by David O'Connor,Andrew Reid

ISBN: 1844720004
ISBN13: 978-1844720002
Language: English
Publisher: UCL Press; 1 edition (November 2003)
Pages: 236
Category: Humanities
Subategory: Other

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Encounters with Ancient Egypt is a series of eight books which addresses these issues.

Encounters with Ancient Egypt is a series of eight books which addresses these issues. The books interrelate, inform and illuminate one another and will appeal to a wide market including academics, students and the general public interested in Archaeology, Egyptology, Anthropology, Architecture, Design and History. Geographically, Egypt is clearly on the African continent, yet Ancient Egypt is routinely regarded as a non-African cultural form. The significance of Ancient Egypt for the rest of Africa is a hotly debated issue with complex ramifications. This book considers how Ancient Egypt was.

Ancient Egypt in Africa - Encounters with Ancient Egypt (Paperback) . This book considers how Ancient Egypt was dislocated from Africa, drawing on a wide range of sources. Ancient Egypt in Africa presents twelve probing essays addressing aspects of the question, "To what extent can ancient Egyptian civilization be characterized as 'African'?". O'Connor and Reid's introduction provides a fascinating overview of how current ideas about ancient Egypt and Africa have been shaped and distorted by modern ethnic, cultural, and religious bias. the essays document the conflicting and changing views.

Geographically, Egypt is clearly on the African continent, yet Ancient Egypt is routinely regarded as a non-African cultural form.

Электронная книга "Ancient Egypt in Africa", David O'Connor, Andrew Reid. Эту книгу можно прочитать в Google Play Книгах на компьютере, а также на устройствах Android и iOS. Выделяйте текст, добавляйте закладки и делайте заметки, скачав книгу "Ancient Egypt in Africa" для чтения в офлайн-режиме.

Although the study of Egyptian culture spurned its own discipline, Egypt is and always has been part of Africa. These twelve essays re-open the debate on the influence of Egyptian culture on the rest of Africa from early times to the Christian period acknowledging and discussing the distortions that have been created by 'racial prejudice, colonial and imperial interests'.

Each civilization left Africa with bodies of knowledge rooted in particular epistemologies and transmitted in written and/or oral form. In the first half of the twentieth century, what became known as the colonial library (Mudimbe 1988: x) had.

Whereas another volume in the Encounters with Ancient Egypt series, Ancient Perspectives on Egypt, examines Egyptian interactions with other cultures primarily through outside sources, this one addresses how the Egyptians themselves perceived outside lands, both real an. .

Whereas another volume in the Encounters with Ancient Egypt series, Ancient Perspectives on Egypt, examines Egyptian interactions with other cultures primarily through outside sources, this one addresses how the Egyptians themselves perceived outside lands, both real and imagined. James P. Allen gives an overview of Egyptian cosmology that will be familiar to anyone who has read either of his books Genesis in Egypt and Middle Egyptian. The next essay discusses how the Egyptians described travel through foreign lands, in both fiction and nonfiction.

David O'Connor, Andrew Reid. It examines key issues such as the evidence for actual contacts between Egypt and other early African cultures, and how influential, or not, Egypt was on them

Ancient Egypt in Africa.

Ancient Egypt in Africa. Ancient Perspectives on Egypt. Matthews, R. Ancient perspectives on Egypt – (Encounters with ancient Egypt) 1 Egypt – History 2 Egypt – Civilization 3 Egypt – Historiography I Title II Roemer, C. 932. Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data.

The discipline of Egyptology has been criticised for being too insular,with little awareness of the development of archaeologies elsewhere. It has remained theoretically underdeveloped. For example the role of Ancient Egypt within Africa has rarely been considered jointly by Egyptologists and Africanists. Egypt's own view of itself has been neglected; views of it in the ancient past, in more recent times and today have remained underexposed.

Encounters with Ancient Egypt is a series of eight books which addresses these issues. The books interrelate, inform and illuminate one another and will appeal to a wide market including academics, students and the general public interested in Archaeology, Egyptology, Anthropology, Architecture, Design and History.

Geographically, Egypt is clearly on the African continent, yet Ancient Egypt is routinely regarded as a non-African cultural form. The significance of Ancient Egypt for the rest of Africa is a hotly debated issue with complex ramifications. This book considers how Ancient Egypt was dislocated from Africa, drawing on a wide range of sources.

It examines key issues such as the evidence for actual contacts between Egypt and other early African cultures, and how influential, or not, Egypt was on them. Some scholars argue that to its north Egypt's influence on Mediterranean civilization was downplayed by western scholarship. Further afield, on the African continent perceptions of Ancient Egypt were coloured by biblical sources, emphasizing the persecution of the Israelites.

An extensive selection of fresh insights are provided, several focusing on cultural interactions between Egypt and Nubia from 1000 BCE to 500 CE, developing a nuanced picture of these interactions and describing the limitations of an 'Egyptological' approach to them.

Excellent roundup of scholarship and hard data showing African foundations of Ancient Egypt.
Just some examples of this detailed scholarship....

".. but his [Frankfort's] frequent citations from African ethnography- over 60 are listed in the index- demonstrate that there is a powerful resonance between recent African concepts and practice on one hand, and ancient Egyptian kingship and religion on the other.."

Rowlands (Chapter 4) provides much additional evidence suggesting that 'sub-Saharan Africa and Ancient Egypt share certain commonalities in substantiative images and ideas, yet whose cultural forms display differences consistent with perhaps millennia of historical divergence and institutionalization'.

"First, kingship in Egypt was 'the channel through which the powers of nature flowed into the body politic to bring human endeavour to fruition' and thus was closely analogous to the widespread African belief that 'chieftains entertain closer relationship with the powers in nature than other men' (Frankfort 1948: 33, ch. 2). Second, the Egyptian king's metaphorical identification as an all powerful bull who tramples his enemies and inseminates his cow-mother to achieve regeneration was derived from Egyptian ideas and beliefs abut cattle for which best parallels can be found in some, but not all, recent African societies.."

"Like the chiefs discussed by Rowlands, the king combines 'life giving forces with the power to kill" (Rowlands, CHaptr 4:52). Overall, this Egyptian concept of kingship, so akin to African models, seems very different to that held in the ancient Near East (Frankfort 1948; Postgate 1995)"

"In conclusion, there is a relative abundance of ancient materials relevant to contact and influence, as well as striking correlations between ancient Egyptian civilization and the ethnography of recent and current sub-Saharan communities, chiefdoms and states... Perhaps the fact that commonalities do exist suggests that, because of great time depth and different organization, these commonalities may result from inherently African processes."

--David O'Connor, Andrew Reid (2007) ANCIENT EGYPT IN AFRICA. pp 15-22



Conservative mainstream Oxford
Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt shows
ancient Egypt derived from an African
cultural sub-stratum


[i]"The evidence also points to linkages to
other northeast African peoples, not
coincidentally approximating the modern
range of languages closely related to
Egyptian in the Afro-Asiatic group
(formerly called Hamito-Semetic). These
linguistic similarities place ancient
Egyptian in a close relationship with
languages spoken today as far west as
Chad, and as far south as Somalia.
Archaeological evidence also strongly
supports an African origin. A widespread
northeastern African cultural assemblage,
including distinctive multiple barbed
harpoons and pottery decorated with
dotted wavy line patterns, appears during
the early Neolithic (also known as the
Aqualithic, a reference to the mild
climate of the Sahara at this time).
Saharan and Sudanese rock art from this
time resembles early Egyptian
iconography. Strong connections
between Nubian (Sudanese) and
Egyptian material culture continue in
later Neolithic Badarian culture of Upper
Egypt. Similarities include black-topped
wares, vessels with characteristic
ripple-burnished surfaces, a special
tulip-shaped vessel with incised and
white-filled decoration, palettes, and

Other ancient Egyptian practices show
strong similarities to modern African
cultures including divine kingship, the
use of headrests, body art, circumcision,
and male coming-of-age rituals, all
suggesting an African substratum or
foundation for Egyptian civilization.."

-- Source: Donald Redford (2001) The
Oxford encyclopedia of ancient Egypt,
Volume 3. Oxford University Press. p.28


"Ancient Egypt belongs to a language
group known as 'Afroasiatic' (formerly
called Hamito-Semitic) and its closest
relatives are other north-east African
languages from Somalia to Chad. Egypt's
cultural features, both material and
ideological and particularly in the earliest
phases, show clear connections with that
same broad area. In sum, ancient Egypt
was an African culture, developed by
African peoples, who had wide ranging
contacts in north Africa and western
--Morkot, Robert (2005) The Egyptians: An Introduction. p. 10)

"The ancient Egyptians were not 'white' in any European sense,
nor were they 'Caucasian'... we can say that the earliest population
of ancient Egypt included African people from the upper Nile, African
people from the regions of the Sahara and modern Libya, and smaller
numbers of people who had come from south-western Asia and
perhaps the Arabian penisula."
--Robert Morkot (2005). The Egyptians: An Introduction. pp. 12-13

"Over the long run of northeastern African history, what emerges most
strongly is the extent to which ancient Egypt's culture grew from sub-Saharan
African roots. The earliest foundations of the culture that was to evolve into that
of dynastic Egypt were laid, as we have already discovered, by Afrasan immigrants
from the general direction of the southern Red Sea hills, who arrived probably well
before 10,000 B.C.E. The new inhabitants brought with them a language directly
ancestral to ancient Egyptian. They introduced to Egypt the idea of using wild grasses
or grains as food. They also introduced a new religion Its central belief, in the efficacy
of clan deities, explains the traceability of the ancient Egyptian gods to different particular
Egyptians localities: originally they were the deities of the local communities, whose
members in still earlier times had belonged to a clan or a group of related clans."
--Christopher Ehret. (2002) The Civilizations of
Africa: A History to 1800. p. 93

".. how is it come about that Neolithic Saharan civilizations, ancient Egypt and
modern Black African civilizations share cultural features? .. Today however,
essentially autochthonous explanations are preferred based on what we call
the substratum theory, whereby all the civilizations in question, even in their
differences and peculiarities share a common cultural substratum as occurs
in the northern world among Indo-European civilizations."
--CERVELLÓ AUTUORI, Joseph, Egypt, Africa and the Ancient World,
in: Proceedings 7th Int. Congress of Egyptologists, 261-272.


BUT THERE ARE WEAKNESSES- specifically authors who add little to the body of data or theme, and the exclusion of other scholars who have done a fair amount of work in the field. They do not appear, but tangential authors do. For example, Martin Bernal of "Black Athena" is given a slot but adds little to the subject- which deals with Egypt and Africa not any so-called "Black Athena" argument of Egypt and Ancient Greece. Bernal's "Ancient" versus 'Aryan" models are rather tangential to this book, and John North's critique "reflections on Black Athena" is fine as it goes, but also seems a bit irrelevant to the core topic, which is not "Greece in Africa". Significantly Bernal has been criticized for the lack of substance in establishing the African character of Egyptian civilization- including his shallow treatment of Diop's detailed evidence (Van Sertima 1992)- and his seeming "piggybacking" on the "Black" race meme to garner attention. Bernal himself later admits his title "Black Athena" was "unfortunate." So is his slapdash treatment on detailed scholarship on the African bio-history of the Egyptians.

John A. North gets a piece of the action "debating" Bernal, but his critique is likewise tangential to the concept of Egypt in Africa. It is curious that 2 European scholars get slots to debate "Afrocentrism" in so tangential a way, while African/Afro-American scholars who have done detailed work on the subject for decades, like Ivan Sertima, do not appear. The North-Bernal "Athena" flavored exchange adds little to the core topic, or a key fundamental- the African bio-history of the Egyptians that forms part of "Egypt IN Africa."

Also excluded as scholar Timothy Kendall has noted in a review elsewhere, are several Afrocentric scholars in the United States (some more conservative than others) who have done a fair amount of work in the question, some quite detailed, and some not in agreement with the highly influential Cheikh Anta DIop.

Kevin Macdonald gets a slot and critiques Diop on his argument that some peoples of West Africa migrated from the Nile Valley due to foreign invasions or environmental distresses. But his argument involves downplaying core central themes of Diop's work. As regards "inner Africa" did Egypt have any compelling "cultural contact" with "the African interior" beyond Nubia? Since archaeological data is not plentiful of say roads, ships or trade beyond Nubia then this setup allows MacDonald to appear as if he is "shooting down" Diop. But his argument has several flawed aspects as follows:

1) Diop's presentation of the deep African cultural substratum underlying Egyptian civilization has been subsequently supported by numerous modern scholars (Redford 2001, Yurco 1996, 1989; VOgel 1997; Lovell 1999; Bard 2000; Keita 2005; Smith 2002; Kemp 2005 et al). His position has thus been validated on such counts. As for Di "Inner Africa" Diop did not place heavy emphasis on such and visible links with Dynastic Egypt. But in any event his concept of the movement of peoples from the general Nile Valley zone having an impact across the continent is not unreasonable in broader context, and is so supported by modern scholarship. In fact Macdonald quotes Diop:

"The idea that a central dispersal located approximately in the Nile Valley is worth consideration. In all likelihood.. [until ca 7000 BC].. Black mankind first lived in branches in the Nile basin before swarming out in successive spurts towards the interior of the continent."

In fact, early anatomically modern humans are seen in the Nile Valley at such places as Singa, Nazlet Khater and Taramsa. Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleo sites are well represented in Egypt and Nubia, and later eras see these humans well established. (Willoughby 2006. The Evolution of Modern Humans in Africa) Diop's "black mankind" in the form of tropically adapted Africans were thus well in place in the Nile Valley, and as part of the Saharan climate movement, did indeed branch out.

Indeed a number of scholars argue that the "Nubian complex" of tools and culture, which also appears across the Red Sea in Arabia, may be "an initial sign of the dispersal of early modern humans (Van Peer 1998. Vermeersch 2001: 105)." (Willoughby 2006) Whatever the exact routes or volume of movement, the humanity Diop talks about was in place and did disperse and spread from sites in the valley of the Nile. His general concept is thus based on credible science, supported by credible mainstream European scholars who came after him.

Diop thought the idea of dispersal was worthy of consideration, but placed little central emphasis on it. He argues for various tribes displaced from the Nile Valley due to Asiatic invasions, showing up in Western Africa with a few Egyptian elements, but his examples are small potatoes- like similar sounding names of things etc. He never puts much emphasis on it. This is wholly different from implying he claimed some sort of huge Egyptian influence radiating out into "interior"
Africa. Macdonald blows this up somewhat into some sort of major "Diopian model" when it is indeed a side issue to his central ideas.

And note Diop incorporates the broader "Nile Basin" not merely Egypt. The Nile Basin would cover not only Egypt, but the Sudan and parts of the Horn of Africa, on into Kenya, even Brundi as well, a huge swathe of northeast Africa- indeed a zone comprising 10% of Africa's land area. It is from that part of Africa that numerous modern humans were donated to other parts of the continent, and beyond (Tishkoff et al 2000).

Diop first introduced the dispersal idea in 1955- repeated in 1974's Civilization or Barbarism. Diop at these dates did not have access to the huge amount of scholarship on the Sahara and the Nile Valley that came after the early 1980s But even so his dating, as far as early developments, is not that far off from modern scholars like Frank Yurco who noted that the Sahara acted as a "climatic pump"- alternatively pushing and pulling people into and out if the Nile Valley and larger region, or from 2006- Kruper and Kropelin's "Climate Controlled Holocene Occupation of the Sahara". In fact Kruper and Kropelin 2006 show- QUOTE:

"after the sudden onset of humid conditions at 8500 B.C.E. to the exodus resulting from gradual desiccation since 5300 B.C.E. Southward shifting of the desert margin helped trigger the emergence of pharaonic civilization along the Nile, influenced the spread of pastoralism throughout the continent, and affects sub-Saharan Africa to the present day."
--Kruper and Kropelin 2006. Climate Controlled Holocene Occupation of the Sahara.

Diop was not active in the field to access late 1980s data - having died in 1986 and some of his published work being earlier reprints, but modern scholarship does indeed show that the Nile Valley zone, including the overall Saharan zone incorporating parts of the Nile Valley, is part of the climatic process that helped shape the African continent, including dispersal of peoples. Thus in broader context it could be said that Diop is not that far off from modern scholarship's findings. Yoruba tribes do not have to be shown moving from Memphis to Ghana to establish the movement of peoples West from the all-important Sahara, including pastoralists, circa Diop's Nilo-Saharan zone 7000BC. Note that Diop places the radiator of movement "approximately in the Nile Valley" or Nile Basin - this would incorporate the broad Saharan zone adjacent to or surrounding said Nile Valley/Basin. Modern studies have refined this to the broad Saharan belt that included the Nile Valley but Diop's ranging of early developments is not greatly off the mark.

2) Why is "inner Africa" some sort of litmus test as to Diop, van Sertima or the concept of a deep African cultural sub-stratum in the Nile Valley? Few European scholars are going insinuating that since ancient Greek temples or language do not appear in ancient Sweden or Britain then that means Sweden or Britain are not part of European civilization or culture. Just because hymns to Osiris fail to be found on cave walls in Kenya does not in the slightest bit weaken the fact that the peoples of both Kenya and the Nile Valley are part of one African reality- (DNA, cultural, limb proportion etc) diverse indeed, but ultimately one- just as Greeks and Swedes form part of a European reality. Diop indeed was opposed to Eurocentric models of "splittism" by insinuation- splitting Africa up into little chunks which can then be regrouped in such a way as to deny or minimize commonality.

3) Why does "compelling cultural or material contact" with "Inner Africa" lying "beyond Nubia" serve as some sort of validator of Diop or "Afrocentric" work? What's wrong with areas NEAR to Egypt showing the deep-rooted African cultural patterns and commonalities? Since when is "beyond Nubia" a point of validation? How come the same litmus test is seldom applied to say European peoples like Greeks to validate common patterns based on the Mediterranean basin in agriculture, culture, material artifacts and so on? The ancient Greeks had the greatest impact in areas comparatively CLOSE TO Greece- North Africa, Anatolia, Italy and the Balkans. Unlike the more land-based Egyptians, their islands were more sea-based and thus it was natural for them to use the broad seafaring belt of the Mediterranean to facilitate that influence. Even so, the bulk of their ancient impact was in that general Medit zone. Few people are going around saying that the Greeks should show temples in ancient France to "prove" they are European, or that the ancient peoples of Gaul should likewise be huddling around such temples as "proof" they also are European.

4) MacDonald's narrow commentary downplays a central underpinning of Diop's approach- the African character of the ancient Egyptians. The lack of trade caravans or pyramid buildings flowing from Egypt to say Senegal is MARGINAL to his overall work. Diop showed a DEEP AFRICAN CULTURAL SUBSTRATUM that extended from the Nile Valley across a vast belt of adjacent territories into the Sahara, East Africa and touching West Africa via the Sahara. Other scholars in the same book (O'Connor, Wengrow etc) show just such deep linkages. Diop also acknowledges how the Nilo-Saharan zone was part of the climatic ferment that moved peoples out to other parts of the continent including westward. Diop doesn't need Egyptian temples or boats around the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa to validate his position. Future scholarship since the 1960s would of course add more refinements, as DIop himself expected, and such scholarship supports his overall work on several points.

5) Numerous African areas near to Egypt and sharing culture material and population with Egypt- the Sahara, etc are also "SUB-SAHARAN" OR lie within the tropical zone. Indeed, almost one-sixth of Egypt lies within the tropical zone which for all practical purposes extends even further north (Thompson 1997- Applied Climatology). The peoples therein are tropical Africans, or came from "sub-Saharan Africa in the early era. Trying to play some sort of "geographic apartheid" game where lack of pyramids in Ghana is insinuated to conjure a vast segregation of the Nile Valley from "interior Africa" is a dubious ploy. The Sahara was always a moving target- and donated people and culture to vast swathes of the continent including West Africa.

6) Macdonald paints a picture of few technological developments flowing out of Egypt to "Inner Africa" but he has his direction wrong, and misses the central theme of this book. It is Egypt IN Africa. The cultural and technological developments that gave rise to Egyptian civilization flowed from "inner" Africa to Egypt via the Saharan zone. That is what laid the basis from the tool kits, to the animal husbandry, to the proto-agriculture in protecting, storing and harvesting wild grains, to the domestication of African breeds of cattle, to techniques like mummification, to divine kingship, to numerous aspects of Egyptian religion like the cattle cults, animal gods etc. All this is well established by mainstream scholarship after Diop's main works. The STARTING point is Africa, not Egypt which is a CHILD of Africa, as the title of the book by scholar Ivan van Sertima notes. Africa is the source of all the above- that is where Egyptian civ begins. This is a crucial concept in Diop's work- that things BEGIN WITH AFRICA. Environmental pressures such as the "climatic pump" play a part in this story and such beginnings laid the basis for various other developments later. Macdonald misses or avoids this crucial point in Diop's work, rendering his "critique" less than useful.

And yes, pyramids do appear in "sub-Saharan" Africa such as in the greater Meroe complex - including Naqa and Musawwarat es Sufra part of a cultural region extending into Egypt from the Sudan over the centuries. The move of the desert southwards over decades has obscured the fact that numerous so-called "sub-Saharan" peoples were once well represented far to the north. They do not suddenly become "Eurasian" because the desert continues to move south at various cycles or speeds.

7) Overall, MacDonald makes some fair criticisms of Diop, especially his dispersal claims, which modern data shows to be not quite as advertised. And Macdonald correctly notes that much of Diop's work is dated. The African Origin of Civilization for example is an English translation of two works from the 1960, that was published in English in 1974. There have been subsequent reprints that make the book seem more "recent" than it is. Most of today's black students while respectfully acknowledging the work of Diop, particularly the struggle he faced in a hostile 1950, 60s, 70s from a white establishment that distorted numerous aspects of African history, do not depend on Diop significantly, nor are they roaming college campuses or streets waving kente cloth in support. A small, vocal minority of "enthusiasts" still holds various faiths from the ferment of the 1960s and 1970s, but most informed people realize the field has long since moved on from 30 years ago. Such enthusiasts appear in every ethnic group like the white Irish for example and assorted "Celtic" royalty myths, or white Americans and their assorted myths. But there are no vast armies of 'Afrocentrics" swarming "the hood," the suburbs or local schools "preaching" any "gospel of Diop."

At the same time some modern data does support some of Diop's contentions- limb proportion data, DNA, blood studies, cranial studies, dental studies and archaeological studies (Yurco 1989, Kemp 2005, Keita 2005/1990/1992, Morkot 2005, Vogel 1997, Bard 2000, Ehret 2003, Godde 2009 and many more) etc all demonstrate the African character of the ancient Egyptians through numerous lines of evidence. THey also demonstrate the diversity of Africans- not only genetically, but PHENOTYPICALLY (Tishkoff 2002/2009, Relethford 2001) - a point raised by Diop on more than one occasion. Macdonald also does at times acknowledge areas of agreement with Diop's arguments- pygmies, the notion of certain trans-saharan culture patterns, etc.


The southward move of the Sahara desert obscures several "sub-Saharan" cultural developments: QUOTE:

"Across the continent, the Sahara is spreading southward at a rate of more than three miles a year." -A. Guzman (2013) Overheated: The Human cost of climate change. p lxxiv

"Excessive grazing of cattle and goats by an ever-expanding human population is the main reason for the Sahara's southward expansion at a rate of 5.5 to 8 km per year."
Wolfe, Hertz and Starr (2004) General Biology. p 1224.

" a 1975 survey by the United Nations found the .desert to be expanding southward at 5.5 kilometers per year in the Sudan.." Goudie and Cuff (2001) Encyclopedia of Global Change, p. 253. [/i]

__________________________ ___

So-called "sub-Saharan" cultures once moved far to the north. As one mainstream scholar notes:

[i]"Populations and cultures now found south of the desert roamed far to the north. The culture of Upper Egypt, which became dynastic Egyptian civilization, could fairly be called a Sudanese transplant." [/i]
--J. Vogel (1997) Egypt and Sub-Saharan Africa: Their Interaction. Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa. pp. 465-472

The relationship of ancient Egypt with the rest of Africa is a very touchy subject, because it long ago became tied to modern racism and identity politics. Enrique Cardova's review of this book seems to treat the parts that address these modern perceptions as irrelevant digressions, but the Encounters with Ancient Egypt series is about how people perceive Egypt as much as anything else. Because scholarship on this subject has been skewed by racial biases for so long, this volume in particular has to address how modern people have seen Egypt and Africa. That is why it covers the Black Athena controversy and Cheikh Anta Diop's claims about Egypt, as well as the awful bias of 19th-century scholars. The book thus illustrates how many ideological pitfalls there are in examining the relationship between ancient Egypt and Africa. As Andrew Reid puts it, "In rejecting Egyptian and general northern influences on sub-Saharan Africa, Africanists would appear to be confirming that Ancient Egypt was in Africa, but not of Africa. Conversely, those who propose African connections for Ancient Egypt would appear to side with the view that sub-Saharan Africa was incapable of its own development and sat inert over 5,000 years without being able to create political change." Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

The question isn't impossible to tackle, though, and the book does cover a good deal of what we do know and points out several areas for future study. My only major complaint is that these chapters tend to be written in abstract, theoretical terms, making them more difficult to read than they need to be. David Wengrow discusses the Neolithic society that once occupied most of Egypt and Sudan, a distant but direct forerunner of ancient Egyptian and ancient Nubian civilization. Michael Rowlands compares beliefs about sacred powers and rulership among modern Central African peoples with similar ideas in ancient Egypt, raising the real possibility of a connection between the two. However, Reid's chapter on proposed similarities between Egypt and the Great Lakes region of Africa—very few of which have been substantiated—shows the danger of trying to compare cultures that are so distant in space and time. The last three chapters look at different periods in Nubian history and its close and complex relationship with Egypt to the north.

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