Black Athena Revisited

By Mary R. Lefkowitz; Guy MacLean Rogers | Go to book overview

to scholarship. So too have his data from Chinese history contributed fresh evidence. But elsewhere, in his own proposed, uncritical Egyptocentric diffusionism, as with the Sesostris legend and theories of Egyptian and Hyksos colonies in Greece and on Crete, he has gone far beyond reasonable interpretation. In his overanalysis of cognates and his proposed pharaonic origins for certain names in Greek legend and other instances, he has again gone beyond the reasonable, failing to follow regular linguistic three-step analysis involving phonetic systems and grammar. Such unevenness and unreliability make the Black Athena volumes difficult to use. Certainly, knowledgeable scholars will find useful data in them, but their misuse by Afrocentrists (see Phillip 1995, 16-17; Lefkowitz, Snowden, this volume) demonstrates the danger of encouraging undocumented and unhistorical pan-African claims.

Bernal's speculations have lent support to the doubtful claim that ancient Egyptian people were like the peoples of Sub-Saharan or West Africa, and to the notion that African colonists expanded worldwide in antiquity. As a result, many who make Afrocentric diffusionist claims cite his work uncritically and are further unwilling to consider contemporary anthropological analysis and the findings of prehistorians and archaeologists; they have now written off Egyptologists as tools of Eurocentrism. Diffusion, even the modified diffusion that Bernal proclaims, cannot be applied indiscriminately as a developmental model onto every ancient society. It has some validity where ancient cultures lay geographically close to one another, as with China, Korea, and Japan, and indeed Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley. But it has none in the evolution of cultures separated by oceans, such as those of the Americas and the Pacific islands. Ancient epidemiological data and data on exchange of crops and domestic animals are our strongest evidence against any pre-Columbian American contacts with Africa -- but that is a topic for another essay.

Petrie 1920, 47-50; 1931, esp. 79-80; 1937; 1939, 65-79; Engelbach 1943.
See Brunton and Thompson 1928, 75; Mond and Mond 1937, 267-68; Hoffman 1991, 136-44.
See Wendorf and Schild 1976; Wendorf, Schild, and Close 1984; Close 1980.
The last firm support for the dynastic race theory (see Defry 1956; Emery 1961, 31-31, 38-42) had appeared by mid-century. See also Rice 1990, though much tempered in scope.
For a well-balanced view see von der Way 1988; Moorey 1990; Redford 1992, 17-24.
See Trigger et al. 1983, 36-37; Aldred 1984, 77; Rice 1990, 45-67; Ray 1986, 309-11.


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Black Athena Revisited
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Maps viii
  • Preface ix
  • Ancient Egyptian Chronology xix
  • Introduction 1
  • Introduction 3
  • Notes 22
  • Egypt 25
  • On the Aims and Methods of Black Athena 27
  • Conclusion 46
  • Egypt and Greece the Bronze Age Evidence 49
  • Black Athena an Egyptological Review 62
  • Notes 98
  • Race 101
  • Ancient Egyptians and the Issue of Race 103
  • Note 111
  • Bernal's "Black" and the Afrocentrists 112
  • Notes 128
  • Clines and Clusters Versus " Race" a Test in Ancient Egypt and the Case of a Death on the Nile 129
  • Notes 162
  • The Near East 165
  • The Legacy of Black Athena 167
  • Linguistics 175
  • Notes 203
  • Science 207
  • Black Athena, Afrocentism, and the History of Science 255
  • Notes 256
  • Greece 267
  • The World Turned Upside Down 269
  • Note 279
  • Did Egypt Shape the Glory That Was Greece? 280
  • Black Athena Vision or Dreams of Greek Origin 303
  • Historiography 331
  • When is a Myth? Not a Myth? Bernal's "Ancient Model" 333
  • Notes 348
  • Eighteenth- Century Historiography in Black Athena 349
  • Appendix 2: Two Notes on Bernal's Methodology 388
  • Appendix 2: Two Notes on Bernal's Methodology 392
  • Appendix 2: Two Notes on Bernal's Methodology 394
  • The Tyranny of Germany Over Greece? 403
  • Bernal and the Nineteenth Century 411
  • The Bathwater and the Baby 421
  • Multiculturalism and the Foundations of Western Civilization 428
  • Conclusion 445
  • Quovadis? 447
  • Bibliocraphy 455
  • Contributors 505
  • Indexes 507


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