Ancient Egypt in Africa

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Overview

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 a field, on the African continent perceptions of Ancient Egypt were colored 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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 of ancient Egypt within Africa, and examine recent archaeological work in Africa that renders irrelevant race-based theory, creates a more sophisticated view of ancient African cultural diversity, and offers commonsense directions for future research…should be required reading for all serious students of Egyptology, Africana, and African Studies." - Timothy Kendall, African Studies Review

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Product Details

Meet the Author

David O’Connor is Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art, in the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University and former President, American Research Center in Egypt.Andrew Reid is Senior Lecturer in East African Archaeology at University College London Institute of Archaeology and editor of African Historical Archaeologies.

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Table of Contents

Series Editor's Foreword
Contributors
List of Figures
1 Introduction - Locating Ancient Egypt in Africa: Modern Theories, Past Realities 1
2 Afrocentrism and Historical Models for the Foundation of Ancient Greece 23
3 Attributing Colour to the Ancient Egyptians: Reflections on Black Athena 31
4 The Unity of Africa 39
5 Ancient Egypt and the Source of the Nile 55
6 Views of Ancient Egypt from a West African Perspective 77
7 Cheikh Anta Diop and Ancient Egypt in Africa 93
8 Ancient Egypt, Missionaries and Christianity in Southern Africa 107
9 Landscapes of Knowledge, Idioms of Power: The African Foundations of Ancient Egyptian Civilization Reconsidered 121
10 Ancient Egypt in the Sudanese Middle Nile: A Case of Mistaken Identity? 137
11 On the Priestly Origin of the Napatan Kings: The Adaptation, Demise and Resurrection of Ideas in Writing Nubian History 151
12 Pharaonic or Sudanic? Models for Meroitic Society and Change 169
References 185
Index 211
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2005

    A Flawed Volume On A Key Topic In African History

    In 'Ancient Egypt in Africa' twelve academics, with doctorates primarily from Oxford and Cambridge, move with too much caution and academese, yet often with illuminating knowledge too, through the minefield-subjects of Black Africa's debt to ancient Egypt and vice-versa, generally trying to find and assert the truth between the racists who would deny Black Africa's ability to invent anything and those racial cheerleaders who see Black Africa as the fountain of civilization (they taught the Greeks civilization, Egypt was Black, etc. etc.). On the subject of the racial makeup of the ancient Egyptians the contributors say almost nothing. Their hesitancy to address this-- political correctness?-- is a flaw in the book, since race is pertinent to the matter. But in the area of culture there's still much to discuss. Racial cheerleader Martin Bernal-- whose book 'Black Athena' postulates way too great a debt by ancient Greece, and by extension Europe, to Egypt (which he of course sees as a Black civilization)-- has a chapter which can be dismissed. He really doesn't belong in a scholarly volume like this. Anyway, he uses up too much of his space not making his own case but simply discussing old 18th and 19th writings on the subject. In general, the other authors, even in disagreement, treat him and his confrere Cheikh Anta Diop with academic kid gloves. Many contributors also repeat Bernal's mistake of spending too much time talking about the old literature-- this is writing about other writing-- when what we really want is the modern evidence. Other faults: the inevitable repetition when you have twelve different authors, and at times an excess of academic style. The worst example of the latter is Michael Rowland's chapter. Reading it is like trying to walk through calf-deep tar: 'The analogue is with syntax in language construction where content is unimportant by comparison to seeing how variation is structured....' (pg. 42) But there's both sense and solid information to be found in the volume too, as the authors make the case for Africa's indigenous capacity, even in that Black area just south of Egypt, Nubia, as well as parts further south and west. I found particularly interesting, and convincing, the information on Africa's indigenous agricultural developments, its separate crops, which display a lack of outside influence. Several authors discuss it. Yet where there does seem to be some connection between the cultures of Egypt and Black Africa it's talked about too, just not overrated. I'm not going to say the book is a scintillating read, but the subject is inherently fascinating, and if your interest is deep enough its flaws are worth putting up with. If half stars were allowed I'd give it a 2-1/2. Unfortunately, I know the price-- an utterly outrageous $ 50.00 for a 219-page paperback-- is going to tip the decision on buying to 'No' for many.

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