Unit 1: Ancient Africa - The Cradle of Civilization
(200,000 B.C. - 476 B.C.)

Unit 1: Class 6: The Whitening of Ancient Kemet/Egypt

Ancient Greek Testimony Regarding the Race of the Ancient Egyptians

In an article entitled, “Origin of the Ancient Egyptians,” Cheikh Anta Diop details the physical evidence and documents ancient testimony confirming the African origins of Ancient Egypt. He writes:

To the Greek and Latin writers contemporary with the ancient Egyptians the latter’s physical classification posed no problems: the Egyptians were negroes, thick-lipped, kinky-haired and thin-legged; the unanimity of the authors’ evidence on a physical fact as salient as a people’s race will be difficult to minimize or pass over. Some of the following evidence drives home the point. (Egypt Revisited, p. 16)

Below are reflections on the race and status of the Egyptians and Ethiopians by ancient Greek and Latin writers. 

Free E-Book!
Herodotus, The Histories Volume I and II. (Large PDF, may take 1-2 min to download)
Homer (800 B.C.E.) author of the Iliad and the Odyssey and revered as the greatest of Greek epic poets. 

In the Illiad, Homer recounts the visit of Zeus and the rest of the Greek gods to the annual banquet given for all the gods by the gods of the blacks:

​“For Zeus had yesterday to Ocean’s bounds
Set forth to feast with Ethiop’s faultless men,
And he was followed there by all the gods…"

Herodotus (The Histories, c. 430 BCE, Book II)

“The Ethiopians to whom this embassy was sent are said to be the tallest and handsomest men in the whole world. In their customs they differ greatly from the rest of mankind, and particularly in the way they choose their kings; for they find out the man who is the tallest of all the citizens, and of strength equal to his height, and appoint him to rule over them . . . The spies were told that most of them lived to be 
a hundred and twenty 
years old, while some even went beyond that age --- they ate boiled flesh, and had for their drink nothing but milk...”

“Where the south declines towards the setting sun lies the country called Ethiopia, the last inhabited land in that direction. There gold is obtained in great plenty, huge elephants abound, with wild trees of all sorts, and ebony; and the men are taller, handsomer, and longer lived than anywhere else...”

“The names of nearly all the gods came to Greece from Egypt . . . for the names of all the gods have been known in Egypt from the beginning of time...It was the Egyptians too who originated, and taught the Greeks...ceremonial meeting, processions and liturgies...The Egyptians were also the first to assign each month and each day to a particular deity, and to foretell the date of a man's birth, his character, his fortunes, and the day of his death...The Egyptians, too have made more use of omens and prognostics than any other nation...”

“There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyptian race. Before I heard any mention of the fact from others, I had remarked it myself. After the thought had struck me, I made inquiries on the subject both in Colchis and in Egypt, and I found that the Colchians had a more distinct recollection of the Egyptians, than the Egyptians had of 
them. Still the Egyptians said that they ​believed the Colchians to be descended from the army of Sesostris.

My own conjectures were founded, first, on the fact that they are black-skinned and have woolly hair, which certainly amounts to but little, since several other nations are so too. But further and more especially, on the circumstance that the Colchians, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians, are the only nations who have practised circumcision from the earliest times. The Phoenicians and the Syrians of Palestine themselves confess that they learned the custom of the Egyptians. And the Syrians who dwell about the rivers Thermodon and Parthenius, as well as their neighbors the Macronians, say that they have recently adopted it from the Colchians. Now these are the only nations who use circumcision, and it is plain that they all imitate herein the Egyptians. With respect to the Ethiopians, indeed, I cannot decide whether they learned the practice of the Egyptians, or the Egyptians of them (it is undoubtedly of very ancient date in Ethiopia). But that the others derived their knowledge of it from Egypt is clear to me, from the fact that the Phoenicians, when they come to have commerce with the Greeks, cease to follow the Egyptians in this custom, and allow their children to remain uncircumcised.


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