By David O'Connor
Even though the examine of Egyptian tradition spurned its personal self-discipline, Egypt is and continually has been a part of Africa. those twelve essays re-open the talk at the impact of Egyptian tradition at the remainder of Africa from early instances to the Christian interval acknowledging and discussing the distortions which were created by means of 'racial prejudice, colonial and imperial interests'.
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Astour 1967) on whom he looked back as forerunners of his efforts had been ignored, or so he said (on all this, see Bernal in van Binsbergen 1996/7: 5–8). But it is hard not to think that he had some idea of the passionate reactions that his work would provoke. The very title, Black Athena, whether his or his publisher’s choice, leaves little doubt that the work was intended to be a bold and provocative challenge to established assumptions and to attract all the attention it could. The title itself places the contention that Egyptians were black Africans, and that the Greeks were culturally indebted to them, at the very heart of the debate Bernal was trying to evoke.
The founding idea of the modern discipline of Ancient History is exactly that the historian’s job today is to test and challenge older views, however long-established, by a process of identifying and analyzing the evidence on which they are supposed to rest. She or he formulates new hypotheses about the period; seeks by all possible means new evidence that might throw light on the situation; expresses scepticism or at least doubt about whatever cannot be proved. This process can of course be very fallible and there is plenty of room for judgments on these matters to be influenced by prejudices of all kinds, including racial ones.
Bernal’s critique cannot be limited to the particular area dealt with in his book. Greek relations with Egypt and with the Phoenicians provide only one example of a far more widespread phenomenon in the development of Ancient History and Archaeology in the 19th century. What applies in this case in fact applies more or less to every other period of ancient history as well. In many areas, the ideas about the Greeks and Romans had rested on an extensive knowledge of their own writings and 34 John A.
Ancient Egypt in Africa by David O'Connor