Black Athena Revisited

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

DID EGYPT SHAPE THE GLORY THAT WAS GREECE?

John E. Coleman

By many other statements like these [about similarities between Egyptian and Athenian practices], spoken more out of a love for glory than with regard for the truth, as I see the matter, [the Egyptians] claim Athens as a colony of theirs because of the fame of that city. In general, the Egyptians say that their ancestors sent forth numerous colonies to many parts of the inhabited world, by reason of the pre-eminence of their former kings and their excessive population; but since they offer no precise proof whatsoever for these statements, and since no historian worthy of credence testifies in their support, we have not thought that their accounts merited recording.

-- Diodorus Siculus 1.29 ( 1st cent. B.C.E.; trans. Oldfather 1933, 97)

Two of the four projected volumes of Black Athena, Martin Bernal's sweeping study of Greek civilization and prehistory, have appeared. The work is receiving wide media attention for its message that "Afroasiatic roots" were basic in the formation of classical Greek culture and that these roots have been ignored because of a prevailing racist vision of an ancient Greece unblemished by African and Semitic cultural debts. But is Bernal's picture of Greek history accurate, and are his accusations of racist distortions true?

At the outset, let me note that nobody would now maintain that Greece developed in a vacuum. Influences and borrowing have long been recognized. That the Greeks derived their alphabet, for instance, from the Phoenicians was acknowledged by some classical Greeks 1 and has always been accepted

-280-

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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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