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Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization

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A Critical Review of the Evidence of Archaeology, Anthropology, History and Comparative Religion: According to the Most Reliable Sources and Authorities

By John G. Jackson (1939)



Much more could be said on this subject, but since this essay is addressed mainly to readers who have little time for the study of history, it must be made as concise as possible. The numerous citations from standard scientific and historical works, it is hoped, will be of some benefit to students who are out of reach of large public libraries, or who lack the leisure time necessary for reading and research along these lines.


“It is pretty well settled that the city is the Negro’s great contribution to civilization, for it was in Africa where the first cities grew up.” E. Haldeman-Julius

“Those piles of ruins which you see in that narrow valley watered by the Nile, are the remains of opulent cities, the pride of the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia. … There a people, now forgotten, discovered while others were yet barbarians, the elements of the arts and sciences. A race of men now rejected from society for their sable skin and frizzled hair, founded on the study of the laws of nature, those civil and religious systems which still govern the universe.” Count Volney

“The accident of the predominance of white men in modern times should not give us supercilious ideas about color or persuade us to listen to superficial theories about the innate superiority of the white-skinned man. Four thousand years ago, when civilization was already one or two thousand years old, white men were just a bunch of semi-savages on the outskirts of the civilized world. If there had been anthropologists in Crete, Egypt, and Babylonia, they would have pronounced the white race obviously inferior, and might have discoursed learnedly on the superior germ-plasm or glands of colored folk.” Joseph McCabe


The late Professor George A. Dorsey noted that “H. G. Wells’ heart beats faster in nearly every chapter of his Outline of History, because he cannot forget that he is Nordic, Aryan,
English British, white, civilized.” (Why We Behave Like Human Beings, p. 40.) This patriotic zeal of Mr. Wells’ has, in truth, caused him to suppress certain facts that do not
fit into his pet theories. In the latest edition of his Outline of History, Mr. Wells ends his
chapter on The Early Empires with the following remarks: “No less an authority than Sir
Flinders Petrie gives countenance to the idea that there was some very early connection
between Colchis (the country to the south of the Caucasus) and prehistoric Egypt. Herodotus remarked upon a series of resemblances between the Colchians and the
Egyptians.” (Wells’ New and Revised Outline of History, p. 184, Garden City, 1931.) It
would have been proper for Wells to have quoted the remarks of Herodotus, so as to give
us precise information on the series of resemblances between the Cholchians and the
Egyptians. Why he did not do so we shall now see. In Book II, Section- 104, of his
celebrated History, Herodotus states: “For my part I believe the Colchi to be a colony of
Egyptians, because like them they have black skins and frizzled hair.” (See any English
translation of The History of Herodotus. The translation by Professor George Rawlinson
is the best. See also W.E.B. DuBois, The Negro, p. 31, and Count Volney’s Travels in
Egypt and Syria, Vol. I. pp. 80-81.) After discussing the civilizations of Egypt, Babylonia and India, Wells had already referred to them as a “triple system of white man
civilizations.” (Outline of History, Chap. XIII, Sect. 5, p. 175) On concluding that the
civilization of Egypt was a white man civilization, he naturally would be careful not to
quote the above passage from Herodotus.

Most history texts, especially the ones on ancient history, start off by telling us that there
are either three, four or five races of man, but that of those races only one has been
responsible for civilization, culture, progress and all other good things. The one race is of
course the white race, and particularly that branch of said race known as the Nordic or
Aryan. The reason for this is obvious; the writers of these textbooks are as a rule Nordics,
or so consider themselves. However, prejudice alone will not account for this sort of
thing. There is a confusion among historians and anthropologists concerning the proper
classification of races, and this confusion is used by biased writers to bolster up their
preconceptions. It is therefore necessary that we discuss the subject of race classification
in a rational manner before proceeding further.

The early scientific classifications of the varieties of the human species were geographical in nature. The celebrated naturalist, Linneaus (1708-1778), for instance, listed four races, according to continent, namely: (1) European (white), (2) African (black), (3) Asiatic (yellow), and (4) American (red). Blumenback, in 1775, added a fifth type, the Ocieanic or brown race. This classification is still used in some grammar school Geographies, where the races of man are tabulated as: Ethiopian (black), Caucasian (white), American (red), Mongolian (yellow) and Malayan (brown). During the year 1 800, the French naturalist, Cuvier, announced the hypothesis that all ethnic types were traceable to Ham, Chem and Japhet, the three sons of Noah. After that date race classification developed into an amazing contest; a struggle which still rages. By 1873, Haeckel had found no less than twelve distinct races of mankind; and to show the indefatigable nature of his researches, he annexed twenty-two more races a few years later, bringing the grand total of human types up to thirty-four. Deniker, in 1900, presented to the world a very imposing system of race classification. He conceived of the human species existing in the form of six grand divisions, seventeen divisions and twenty-nine races. And despite all this industry among anthropologists, ethnologists and the like, there is yet no agreement on the classification of races. Where one anthropologist finds three racial types, another can spot thirty-three without the least difficulty.

The Classifiers of race, however, regardless of how abundantly they disagreed with each
other as to the correct groupings of human types, were of unanimous accord in the belief
that the white peoples of the world were far superior to the darker races. This opinion in
still very popular, but modern science is making it hard for intelligent people to accept
the fallacy. Many years ago the German philosopher, Schopenhauer, remarked that,
“there is no such thing as a white race, much as this is talked of, but every white man is a
faded or bleached one.” Schopenhauer possessed keen and sagacious foresight on this
point. For example, the English scholar, Joseph McCabe, expresses the following view as
the consensus of opinion among modern anthropologists: “There is strong reason to think
that man was at first very dark of skin, woolly-haired and flat-nosed, and, as he wandered into different climates, the branches of the race diverged and developed their characteristics.” (Key to Culture, No. 11, p. 10.)

Professor Franz Boas, the nestor of American anthropologists, has divided the whole
human race into only two divisions. This classification of Boas’ is admirably explained
by Professor George A. Dorsey:

Open your atlas to a map of the world. Look at the Indian Ocean: on the west, Africa; on the north, the three great southern peninsulas of Asia: on the east, a chain of great islands terminating in Australia. Wherever that Indian Ocean touches land, it finds dark-skinned people with strongly
developed jaws, relatively long arms and kinky or frizzly hair. Call that the Indian Ocean or Negroid division of the human race.

Now look at the Pacific Ocean: on one side, the two Americas; on the other, Asia. (Geographically, Europe is a tail to the Asiatic kite.) The aboriginal population of the Americas and of Asia north of its southern peninsula was a light-skinned people with straight hair, relatively short arms, and a face without prominent jaws. Call that the Pacific Ocean or Mongoloid division. (Why We Behave Like Human Beings, pp. 44-45.)

Professors A. L. Kroeber and Fay-Cooper Cole are of the opinion that the peoples of
Europe have (been) bleached out enough to merit classification as a distinct race. This
would add a European or Caucasoid division to the Negroid and Mongoloid races of the
classification proposed by Professor Boas. If we accept this three-fold division of the
human species, our classification ought to read as follows: the races of man are three in
number; (1) the Negroid, or Ethiopian or black race; (2) the Mongoloid, or Mongolian or
yellow race; and (3) the Caucasoid or European or white race. This is the very latest
scheme of race classification.

Now that we have straightened out ourselves on the issue of the classification of races,
we may property turn to the main subject matter of this essay, i.e., the ancient Ethiopians
and their widespread influence on the early history of civilization. In discussing the origin
of civilization in the ancient Near East, Professor Charles Seignobos in his History of
Ancient Civilization, notes that the first civilized inhabitants of the Nile and Tigris-
Euphrates valleys, were a dark-skinned people with short hair and prominent lips; and
that they are referred to by some scholars as Cushites (Ethiopians), and as Hamites by
others. This ancient civilization of the Cushites, out of which the earliest cultures of
Egypt and Mesopotamia grew, was not confined to the Near East. Traces of it have been
found all over the world. Dr. W. J. Perry refers to it as the Archaic Civilization. Sir
Grafton Elliot Smith terms it the Neolithic Heliolithic Culture of the Brunet-Browns. Mr.
Wells alludes to this early civilization in his Outline of History, and dates its beginnings
as far back as 15,000 years B.C. “This peculiar development of the Neolithic culture,”
says Mr. Wells, “which Elliot Smith called the Heliolithic (sun-stone) culture, included
many or all of the following odd practices: (1) Circumcision, (2) the queer custom of
sending the father to bed when a child is born, known as Couvade, (3) the practice of Massage, (4) the making of Mummies, (5) Megalithic monuments (i.e. Stonehenge), (6)
artificial deformation of the heads of the young by bandages, (7) Tattooing, (8) religious
association of the Sun and the Serpent, and (9) the use of the symbol known as the
Swastika for good luck. . . . Elliot Smith traces these associated practices in a sort of
constellation all over this great Mediterranean / Indian Ocean-Pacific area. Where one
occurs, most of the others occur. They link Brittany with Borneo and Peru. But this
constellation of practices does not crop up in the primitive home of Nordic or Mongolian
peoples, nor does it extend southward much beyond equatorial Africa. … The first
civilizations in Egypt and the Euphrates-Tigris valley probably developed directly out of
this widespread culture.” (Outline of History, pp. 141-143).

This ancient civilization is called NEOLITHIC by Wells. This is a mistake; for we have
overwhelming evidence that these ancient peoples had long passed out of the New Stone
Age stage of culture, and were erecting edifices which could only have been constructed
by means of hard metal tools. Iron is the very backbone of civilization, and the Iron Age
began very anciently in Africa. The researches of scholars like Boas, Torday and DuBois
would lead us to believe that the art of mining iron was first developed in the interior of
Africa, and that the knowledge of it passed through Egypt to the rest of the world. (See
W.E.B. DuBois, The Negro, pp. 114-116, Home University Library, New York and
London, 1915.)

In modern geography the name Ethiopia is confined to the country known as Abyssinia,
an extensive territory in East Africa. In ancient times Ethiopia extended over vast
domains in both Africa and Asia. “It seems certain,” declares Sir E. A. Wallis Budge,
“that classical historians and geographers called the whole region from India to Egypt,
both countries inclusive, by the name of Ethiopia, and in consequence they regarded all
the dark-skinned and black peoples who inhabited it as Ethiopians. Mention is made of
Eastern and Western Ethiopians and it is probable that the Easterners were Asiatics and
the Westerners Africans.” (History of Ethiopia, Vol. I., Preface, by Sir E. A. Wallis
Budge.) In addition Budge notes that, “Homer and Herodotus call all the peoples of the
Sudan, Egypt, Arabia, Palestine and Western Asia and India Ethiopians.” (Ibid., p. 2.)
Herodotus wrote in his celebrated History that both the Western Ethiopians, who lived in
Africa, and the Eastern Ethiopians who dwelled in India, were black in complexion, but
that the Africans had curly hair, while the Indians were straight-haired. (The aboriginal
black inhabitants of India are generally referred to as the Dravidians, of whom more will
be said as we proceed.) Another classical historian who wrote about the Ethiopians was
Strabo, from whom we quote the following: “I assert that the ancient Greeks, in the same
way as they classed all the northern nations with which they were familiar as Scythians,
etc., so, I affirm, they designated as Ethiopia the whole of the southern countries toward
the ocean.” Strabo adds that “if the moderns have confined the appellation Ethiopians to
those only who dwell near Egypt, this must not be allowed to interfere with the meaning
of the ancients.” Ephorus says that: “The Ethiopians were considered as occupying all the
south coasts of both Asia and Africa,” and adds that “this is an ancient opinion of the of
the Greeks.” Then we have the view of Stephanus of Byzantium, that: “Ethiopia was the
first established country on earth; and the Ethiopians were the first who introduced the
worship of the gods, and who established laws.” The vestiges of this early civilization have been found in Nubia, the Egyptian Sudan, West Africa, Egypt, Mashonaland, India,
Persia, Mesopotamia, Arabia, South America, Central America, Mexico, and the United
States. Any student who doubts this will find ample evidence in such works as The Voice
of Africa, by Dr. Leo Froebenius; Prehistoric Nations, and Ancient America, by John D.
Baldwin; Rivers of Life, by Major-General J. G. R. Forlong; A Book of the Beginnings by
Gerald Massey; Children of the Sun and The Growth of Civilization, by W. J. Perry; The
Negro by Professor W.E.B. DuBois; The Anacalypsis, by Sir Godfrey Higgins; Isis
Unveiled by Madam H. P. Blavatsky; The Diffusion of Culture, by Sir Grafton Elliot
Smith; The Mediterranean Race, by Professor Sergi; The Ruins of Empires, by Count
Volney; The Races of Europe, by Professor William Z. Ripley; and last but not least, the
brilliant monographs of Mr. Maynard Shipley: New Light on Prehistoric Cultures and
Americans of a Million Years Age. (See also Shipley’s Sex and the Garden of Eden Myth,
a collection of essays, the best of the lot being one entitled: Christian Doctrines In Pre-
Christian America.) These productions of Mr. Shipley, have been issued in pamphlet
form in the Little Blue Book Series, published by Mr. E. Haldeman- Julius, of Girard,

The efforts of certain historians to classify these ancient Cushites as Caucasoids does not
deceive honest historical students any longer. This may well be illustrated by a passage
from the pen of our scholarly friend Bishop William Montgomery Brown: “For the first
two or three thousand years of civilization, there was not a civilized white man on the
earth. Civilization was founded and developed by the swarthy races of Mesopotamia,
Syria and Egypt, and the white race remained so barbaric that in those days an Egyptian
or a Babylonian priest would have said that the riffraff of white tribes a few hundred
miles to the north of their civilization were hopelessly incapable of acquiring the
knowledge requisite to progress. It was southern colored peoples everywhere, in China,
in Central America, in India, Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and Crete who gave the
northern white peoples civilization.” (The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism, Vol.,
p. 192.)

Quite a few Egyptologists have defended the idea that the ancient Egyptians
originally came from Asia. There never was any evidence to back up this view; and the
only reason it was adopted, was because it was fashionable to believe that no African
people was capable of developing a great civilization. Geoffrey Parsons refers to
Egyptian civilization in his Stream of History, p. 154, New York & London, 1932, as
“genuinely African in its origin and development.” Herodotus came to the same
conclusion over 2,000 years ago, but he is not taken seriously by the majority of modern
historians, except where his facts agree with certain theories of said historians. Theories
are more precious to some scholars than facts, even when the facts flatly contradict their
theories. Dr. Froebenious, the great German anthropologist, has examined the ruins of
ancient cultures in southern, eastern and western Africa, of an antiquity rivaling those of
Egypt and Sumer. Sir John Marshall and Dr. E. Mackay have uncovered the remains of a
great Dravidian civilization in India, which rose to its peak over 5,000 years ago. The
newspaper generally report these discoveries as startling and unexpected. They tell us
that nobody ever dreamed that these ancient nations ever existed. This novelty, however,
does not exist for real students. Anyone familiar with the works of G. Elliot Smith, W. J. Perry, Sir Godfrey Higgins, Dr. H.R. Hall, Sir Henry Rawlinson, John D. Baldwin,
Gerald Massey and General Forlong, will not be surprised at the very novel
archaeological discoveries announced by the press. Since we are dealing with historical
sources and authorities, a study of the researches of Sir Henry Rawlinson, the Father of
Assyriology, on the Ethiopians in the ancient East, is in order. The following extract is
condensed from an essay entitled: On the Early History of Babylonia:

1 . The system of writing which they brought with them has the closest
affinity with that of Egypt — in many cases indeed, there is an absolute
identity between the two alphabets.

2. In the Biblical genealogies, Cush (Ethiopia) and Mizraim (Egypt) are
brothers, while from the former sprang Nimrod (Babylonia.)

3. In regard to the language of the primitive Babylonians, the vocabulary is
undoubtedly Cushite or Ethiopian, belonging to that stock of tongues
which in the sequel were everywhere more or less mixed up with the
Semitic languages, but of which we have probably the purest modern
specimens in the Mahra of Southern Arabia and the Galla of Abyssinia.

4. All the traditions of Babylonia and Assyria point to a connection in very
early times between Ethiopia, Southern Arabia and the cities on the lower

5. In further proof of the connection between Ethiopia and Chaldea, we must
remember the Greek tradition both of Cepheus and Memnon, which
sometimes applied to Africa, and sometimes to the countries at the mouth
of the Euphrates; and we must also consider the geographical names of
Cush and Phut, which, although of African origin, are applied to races
bordering on Chaldea, both in the Bible and in the Inscriptions of Darius.

(Essay- VI, Appendix, Book-I, History of Herodotus, translated by
Professor George Rawlinson, with essays and notes by Sir Henry
Rawlinson and Sir J. G. Wilkinson.)

The opinions of Sir Henry Rawlinson are reinforced by the researches of his equally
distinguished brother, Professor George Rawlinson, in his essay On the Ethnic Affinities
of the Races of Western Asia, which directs our attention to: “the uniform voice of
primitive antiquity, which spoke of the Ethiopians as a single race, dwelling along the
shores of the Southern Ocean from India to the Pillars of Hercules.” {Herodotus, Vol. I.,
Book. I., Appendix, Essay XL, Section-5.) Rawlinson adds an explanatory note to this
section of his essay, which we here reproduce: “Recent linguistic discovery tends to show
that a Cushite or Ethiopian race did in the earliest times extend itself along the shores of
the Southern Ocean from Abyssinia to India. The whole peninsula of India was peopled
by a race of their character before the influx of the Aryans; it extended from the Indus
along the seacoast through the modern Beluchistan and Kerman, which was the proper
country of the Asiatic Ethiopians; the cities on the northern shores of the Persian Gulf are
shown by the brick inscriptions found among their ruins to have belonged to this race; it
was dominant in Susiana and Babylonia, until overpowered in the one country by Aryan,
in the other by Semitic intrusion; it can be traced both by dialect and tradition throughout
the whole south coast of the Arabian peninsula.”

In the study of ancient affairs, folklore and tradition throw an invaluable light on
historical records. In Greek mythology we read of the great Ethiopian king, Cepheus,
whose fame was so great that he and his family were immortalized in the stars. The wife
of King Cepheus was Queen Cassiopeia, and his daughter, Princess Andromeda. The star
groups of the celestial sphere, which are named after them are called the ROYAL
family — (the constellations: cepheus, CASSIOPEIA and ANDROMEDA.) It may seem
strange that legendary rulers of ancient Ethiopia should still have their names graven on
our star maps, but the voice of history gives us a clue. A book on astrology attributed to
Lucian declares that: “The Ethiopians were the first who invented the science of stars,
and gave names to the planets, not at random and without meaning, but descriptive of the
qualities which they conceived them to possess; and it was from them that this art passed,
still in an imperfect state, to the Egyptians.” The Ethiopian origin of astronomy is
beautifully explained by Count Volney in a passage in his Ruins of Empires, which is one
of the glories of modern literature, and his argument is not based on guesses. He invokes
the weighty authority of Charles F. Dupuis, whose three monumental works, The Origin
of Constellations, The Origin of Worship and The Chronological Zodiac, are marvels of
meticulous research. Dupuis placed the origin of the zodiac as far back as 15,000 B.C.,
which would give the world’s oldest picture book an antiquity of 17,000 years. (This
estimate is not as excessive as it might at first appear, since the American ast5ronomer
and mathematician, Professor Arthur M. Harding, traces back the origin of the zodiac to
about 26,000 B.C) In discussing star worship and idolatry, Volney gives the following
glowing description of the scientific achievements of the ancient Ethiopians, and of how
they mapped out the signs of the zodiac on the star-spangled dome of the heavens:

Should it be asked at what epoch this system took its birth, we shall answer on the testimony of the monuments of astronomy itself, that its principles appear with certainty to have been established about seventeen thousand years ago, and if it be asked to what people it is to be attributed, we shall answer that the same monuments, supported by unanimous traditions, attribute it to the first tribes of Egypt; and reason finds in that country all the circumstances which could lead to such a system; when it finds there a zone of sky, bordering on the tropic, equally free from the rains of the equator and the fogs of the north; when it finds there a central point of the sphere of the ancients, a salubrious climate, a great but manageable river, a soil fertile without art or labor, inundated without morbid exhalations, and placed between two seas which communicate with the richest countries; it conceives that the inhabitant of the Nile, addicted to agriculture from the facility of communications, to astronomy from the state of his sky, always open to observation, must have been the first to pass from the savage to the social state; and consequently to attain the physical and moral sciences necessary to civilized life.

It was, then, on the borders of the upper Nile, among a black race of men, that was organized the complicated system of the worship of the stars, considered in relation to the productions of the earth and the labors of agriculture. … Thus the Ethiopian of Thebes named stars of inundation, or Aquarius, those stars under which the Nile began to overflow; stars of the ox or bull, those under which they began to plow, stars of the lion, those under which that animal, driven from the desert by thirst, appeared on the banks of the Nile; stars of the sheaf, or of the harvest virgin, those of the
reaping season; stars of the lamb, stars of the two kids, those under which these precious animals were brought forth. … Thus the same Ethiopian having observed that the return of the inundation always corresponded with the rising of a beautiful star which appeared towards the source of the
Nile, and seemed to warn the husbandman against the coming waters, he compared this action to that of the animal who, by his barking, gives notice of danger, and he called this star the dog, the barker (Sirius). In the same manner he named the stars of the crab, those where the sun, having
arrived at the tropic, retreated by a slow retrograde motion like the crab of Cancer. He named stars of the wild goat, or Capricorn, those where the sun, having reached the highest point in his annuary tract, . . . imitates the goat, who delights to climb to the summit of the rocks. He named stars of the balance, or Libra, those where the days and nights being equal, seemed in equilibrium, like that instrument; and stars of the scorpion, those where certain periodical winds bring vapors, burning like the venom of the scorpion. (Volney’s Ruins of Empires, pp. 120-122, New York, 1926)

The traditions concerning Memnon are interesting as well as instructive. He was claimed
as a king by the Ethiopians, and identified with the Pharaoh Amunoph or Amenhotep, by
the Egyptians. A fine statue of him is located in the British Museum, in London. Charles
Darwin makes a reference to this statue on his Descent of Man which is well worth
reproducing: “When I looked at the statue of Amunoph III, I agreed with two officers of
the establishment, both competent judges, that he had a strongly marked Negro type of
features.” The features of Akhnaton (Amennhotep IV), are even more Negroid than those
of his illustrious predecessor. That the earliest Egyptians were African Ethiopians
(Nilotic Negroes), is obvious to all unbiased students of oriental history. Breasted’s claim
that the early civilized inhabitants of the Nile Valley and Western Asia were members of
a Great White Race, is utterly false, and is supported by no facts whatsoever. A similar
racial bias is shown by Elliot Smith in his work, The Ancient Egyptians and Their
Influence Upon the Civilization of Europe, p. 30, New York & London, 1911. “Not a few
writers,” says he, “like the traveler Volney in the 18 th century, have expressed the belief
that the ancient Egyptians were Negroes, or at any rate strongly Negroid. In recent times
even a writer so discriminating as Ripley usually is has given his adhesion to this view.”
(The writers referred to here, are Count Volney, the French Orientalist and Professor
William Z. Ripley, of Harvard University, an eminent American Anthropologist.)
Professor Smith is convinced that these men are wrong, because he holds that there is a
“profound gap that separates the Negro from the rest of mankind, including the
Egyptian.” (Ancient Egyptians, p. 74.) Another English scholar, Philip Smith, is far more
rational in discussing this point:

No people have bequeathed to us so many memorials of its form complexion and physiognomy as the Egyptians. … If we were left to form  an opinion on the subject by the description of the Egyptians left by the Greek writers we should conclude that they were, if not Negroes, at least
closely akin to the Negro race. That they were much darker in coloring than the neighboring Asiatics; that they had their frizzled either by nature or art; that their lips were thick and projecting, and their limbs slender, rests upon the authority of eye-witnesses who had traveled in the country and who could have had no motive to deceive. . . . The fullness of the lips seen in the Sphinx of the Pyramids and in the portraits of the kings is characteristic of the Negro. (The Ancient History of the East, pp. 25-26, London, 1881.)

We read of Memnon, King of Ethiopia, in Greek mythology, to be exact in Homer’s Iliad,
where he leads an army of Elamites and Ethiopians to the assistance of King Priam in the
Trojan War. His expedition is said to have started from the African Ethiopia and to have
passed through Egypt on the way to Troy. According to Herodotus, Memnon was the
founder of Susa, the chief city of the Elamites. “There were places called Memnonia,”
asserts Professor Rawlinson, “supposed to have been built by him both in Egypt and at
Susa; and there was a tribe called Memnones at Moroe. Memnon thus unites the eastern
with the western Ethiopians, and the less we regard him as an historical personage the
more must we view him as personifying the ethnic identity of the two races.” (Ancient
Monarchies, Vol. I, Chap. 3.) The ancient peoples of Mesopotamia are sometimes called
the Chaldeans, but this is inaccurate and confusing. Before the Chaldean rule in
Mesopotamia, there were the empires of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians and
Assyrians. The earliest civilization of Mesopotamia was that of the Sumerians. They are
designated in the Assyrio-Babylonian inscriptions as the black-heads or black-faced
people, and they are shown on the monuments as beardless and with shaven heads. This
easily distinguishes them from the Semitic Babylonians, who are shown with beards and
long hair. From the myths and traditions of the Babylonians we learn that their culture
came originally from the south. Sir Henry Rawlinson concluded from this and other
evidence that the first civilized inhabitants of Sumer and Akkad were immigrants from
the African Ethiopia. John D. Baldwin, the American Orientalist, on the other hand,
claims that since ancient Arabia was also known as Ethiopia, they could have just as well
come from that country. These theories are rejected by Dr. II. R. Hall, of the Dept. Of
Egyptian & Assyrian Antiquities of the British Museum, who contends that Mesopotamia
was civilized by a migration from India. “The ethnic type of the Sumerians, so strongly
marked in their statues and reliefs,” says Dr. Hall, “was as different from those of the
races which surrounded them as was their language from those of the Semites, Aryans, or
others; they were decidedly Indian in type. The face-type of the average Indian of today
is no doubt much the same as that of his Dravidian race ancestors thousands of years ago.
. . . And it is to this Dravidian ethnic type of India that the ancient Sumerian bears most
resemblance, so far as we can judge from his monuments. … And it is by no means
improbable that the Sumerians were an Indian race which passed, certainly by land,
perhaps also by sea, through Persia to the valley of the Two Rivers. It was in the Indian
home (perhaps the Indus valley) that we suppose for them that their culture developed. . . On the way they left the seeds of their culture in Elam. . . . There is little doubt that India
must have been one of the earliest centers of human civilization, and it seems natural to suppose that the strange un-Semitic, un-Aryan people who came from the East to civilize
the West were of Indian origin, especially when we see with our own eyes how very
Indian the Sumerians were in type.” {The Ancient History of the Near East, pp. 173-174,
London, 1916.) Hall is opposed in his theory of Sumerian origins by Dr. W. J. Perry, the
great anthropologist, of the University of London. “The Sumerian stories or origins
themselves tell a very different tale,” Perry points out, “for from their beginnings the
Sumerians seem to have been in touch with Egypt. Some of their early texts mention
Dilmun, Magan and Meluhha. . . . Dilmun was the first settlement that was made by the
god Enki, who was the founder of Sumerian civilization. … Magan was famous among
the Sumerians as a place whence they got diorite and copper, Meluhha as a place whence
they got gold. Dilmun has been identified with some place or other in the Persian Gulf,
perhaps the Bahrein Islands, perhaps a land on the eastern shore of the Gulf. … In a late
inscription of the Assyrians it is said that Magan and Meluhha were the archaic names for
Egypt and Ethiopia, the latter being the south-western part of Somaliand that lay
opposite.” {The Growth of Civilization, pp. 60-61, 2 nd Edition, Harmondsworth,
Middlesex, England, 1937, Published by Penguin Books, Ltd.)

Another great nation of Ethiopian origin was Elam, a country which stretched from the
Tigris River to the Zagros Mountains of Persia. Its capital was the famous city of Susa,
which was founded about 4,000 B.C., and flourished from that date to its destruction by
Moslem invaders about the year 650 C.E. (Christian Era). In speaking of the Elamites, H.
G. Wells H. H. Johnston, to have been Negroid in type. There is a strong Negroid strain
in the modern people of Elam.” {Outline of History, p. 166.) Archaeological evidence
favors this view. Reginald S. Poole, the English Egyptologist noted that: “There is one
portrait of an Elamite (Cushite) king on a vase found at Susa; he is painted black and thus
belongs to the Cushite race.” (Quoted by Professor Alfred C. Haddon, in his History of
Anthropology, p. 6, London, 1934. Thinker’s Library Edition, published by Watts & Co.,
5 & 6 Johnson’s Court, Fleet St., London, E. c-4, England.)

We cannot devote much space to the early inhabitants of India, though they were beyond
all doubt an Ethiopic ethnic type. They are described by Professor Lynn Thorndike as
“short black men with almost Negro noses.” {Short History of Civilization, p. 227, New
York, 1936.) Dr. Will Durant pictures these early Hindus as “a dark-skinned, broad-nosed
people whom, without knowing the origin or the word, we call Dravidians.” {Short
History of Civilization, Part I, p. 396, New York, 1935.) The student is advised to consult
pp. 650-666, of the new edition of Sir John A. Hammerton’s Wonders of the Past, in
which there is an instructive article, with fine illustrations, by S. G. Blaxland Stubbs,
entitled: Wonder Cities of Most Ancient India. That Mr. Stubbs is a candid writer may be
seen from the following excerpt:

The early Aryan literature of India, the Hymns of the Rigveda, which, it is commonly agreed, date from about 1,000 B.C., speak of the people whom the proud Aryan invaders found in India as black-skinned barbarians, Dasas or slaves. But Aryan pride of race has received something of a shock from archaeological investigations carried out by Sir John Marshall and, more recently, by Dr. E. Mackay in the valley of the Indus. Here ample evidence has been found of a race whose complex civilization and high culture were equal, and in some respects superior to those of early Mesopotamia and Egypt.

These Asiatic black men were not confined to the mainland, for we are informed by no less an authority than Sir Harry H. Johnston, that:

In former times this Asiatic Negro spread, we can scarcely explain how, unless the land connections of those days were more extended, through Eastern Australia to Tasmania, and from the Solomon Island to New Caledonia and even New Zealand, to Fiji and Hawaii. The Negroid element in Burma and Annam is, therefore, easily to be explained by supposing that in ancient times Southern Asia had a Negro population ranging from the Persian Gulf to Indo-China and the Malay Archipelago.
(See An Introduction to African Civilizations, by Willis N. Huggins. Ph.D. and John G. Jackson, pp. 188-190, New York, 1937.)

Most readers of history know about the Celts, ancient inhabitants of Europe, whose
priests were known as the Druids. It is generally thought that these Celts were
Caucasoids, but Sir Godfrey Higgins, after much study came to the conclusion that they
were a Negroid people. Higgins wrote a ponderous volume entitled The Celtic Druids. In
the following passage from his Anacalypsis he modestly refers to it as an essay: “In my
essay on the Celtic Druids, I have shown that a great nation called Celtae, of whom the
Druids were the priests, spread themselves almost over the whole earth, and are to be
traced in their rude gigantic monuments from India to the extremity of Britain. The
religion of Buddha of India is well known to have been very ancient.” (Higgins is here
referring to the first Buddha, who is supposed to have lived between 5,000 and 6,000
years ago, and not to Gautama Buddha who lived about 600 years B.C. There were at
least ten Buddhas mentioned in the sacred books of India.) “Who these can have been but
the early individuals of the black nation of whom we have been treating I know not, and
in this opinion I am not singular. The learned Maurice says Cuthies (Cushites), i.e. Celts,
built the great temples in India and Britain, and excavated the caves of the former; and
the learned mathematician, Reuben Burrow, has no hesitation in pronouncing Stonehenge
to be a temple of the black curly-headed Buddha.” {Anacalypsis, Vol. I, Book I, Chap.
IV, New York, 1927.)

Though it is generally believed that Columbus discovered America, it is now definitely
known to students of American archaeology that Columbus came late. Professor Leo
Weiner has written a three volume work, Africa and the Discovery of America, in which
he argues that the New World was discovered by Africans long before the time of
Columbus. Professor Weiner was led to this conclusion partly from the following

1. African works in American Indian languages.

2. Vases and pipe-bowls found in the ruins of the Mound-Builders, showing
Negro faces on their surfaces.

3. The presence of African foods in America, such the peanut and the yam.

4. The totemic organization of the Amerindians tribes, very similar to
African totemism. (Totemism is a sort of primitive theory of evolution.
For instance, certain tribes are divided into clans, and each clan is, as a
rule named after some species of animal. Let us suppose a tribe is divided
into four clans, bearing the following names: (1) eagle, (2) Bear, (3) Crow
and (4) Wolf. A member of the Bear Clan will consider himself as
descended from bears, a member of the Wolf Clan will tell you that he is a
wolf and that all of his ancestors were wolves, and so on; this clan
ancestor being known as the Totem. There are numerous definitions of
totemism, the best I have come across being the following one by
Professor A. VB. Haddon: “Totemism, as Dr. Frazer and I understand it in
its fully developed condition, implies the division of a people into several
totem kins, or as they are usually termed, totem clans, each of which has
one or sometimes more that one totem. The totem is usually a species of
animal, sometimes a species of plant, occasionally a natural object or
phenomenon, very rarely a manufactured article. . . . The totems are
regarded as kinsfolk or protectors of the kinsmen, who respect them and
refrain from killing and eating them. There is thus a recognition of mutual
rights and obligations between the members of the kin and their totem.
The totem is the crest of symbol of the Kin.” We see vestiges of totemism
in our political organizations; for example, the Democratic DONKEY and
the republican ELEPHANT. Baseball clubs present an even better example
of totemistic atavism; for instance, who has not heard of baseball teams
bearing such names as: tigers, cardinals, bears, bees, bisons, etc.)
Weiner’s theories have not been kindly received by his colleagues.
Professor H. J. Spinden sneers sarcastically in the following condensed
extract from Culture, the Diffusion Controversy, pp. 53-54, New York,

“Professor Weiner solves the riddle of old American civilizations with an Arabico-Mandingo lexicon and derives everything of importance in the New World from the highly civilized coast of
Gambia and Sierra Leone. From brightest Africa came the principal American food plants, the Mayan calendar and the Mexican religion. It may be added that Professor Weiner swarms
his Negroes across the Atlantic in no less than fifty voyages before Columbus.”

The Indian was not the original American. Professor Ales Hrdlicka of the Smithsonian Institution, as authority on the Amerinds, contends that the ancestors of the Indians came from Asia via Bering Strait 10,000 years ago. American civilization is older than that. The ruins of Tiahuanaco, in Bolivia, according to Dr. Rudolph Muller, a noted German astronomer, are between 10,000 and 14,000 years old. The remains of this ancient city show that it was inhabited by a highly civilized people. (See an article entitled “The
Oldest City in the World,” by A. H. Verrill, in the N. Y. Herald-Tribune Magazine, July 31, 1932.) Excavations in Mexico have produced equally startling results. Dr. Maximus Neumayer, a distinguished Brazilian archaeologist, in cooperation with a group of Mexican archaeologists, has made a very thorough study of the pyramids and monuments in the vicinity of Mexico City. He estimates the monument of Cuicuilco to be about 13,000 years old. An interesting feature of this structure is that it resembles the Assyrio-Babylonian type of architecture, bearing a striking resemblance to the Tower of Babel as it has been restored by the Assyriologists. Dr. Neumayer also examined the pyramids of Teotihuacan, which he estimates to be 4,500 years of age. He thinks that these pyramids were built by a people akin to the Egyptians; and from their arrangement, suggests that they form a sort of model of the solar system, with a pedestal in the center, representing the sun. We must also mention the discoveries of Professor Ramon Mena, Curator of the Department of Archaeology of the Mexican Government. This scientist explored the ruins of the great city of Palenque, and concluded that the ancient metropolis was built over 10,000 years ago. He also found that the inhabitants of the city were familiar with the manufacture and use of Stucco. The celebrated French archaeologist, Desiree Charnay, unearthed statues around Mexico City, more than fifty years ago, with faces showing Negroid features. Pictures of some of them may be seen in Ignatius Donelley’s Atlantis, pp. 174-175. Donnelly also has illustrations of two similar statues, one from Palenque and the other from Vera Cruz. Finding that the Indians show both Mongoloid and Negroid ethnic traces, Charnay justly concluded that the Amerinds were a mixed race of both Asiatic and African ancestry. (See The Ancient Cities of the New World, by Desiree Charnay.) We have perfectly reliable proof of the presence of men of the Ethiopian race in pre-Columbian America. Father Roman, one of he first Catholic missionaries to arrive in the New World, records that a tribe of black men came from the south and landed in Haiti, and that they were armed with darts of guanin (a composition of gold, silver and copper), and were known as the black Guaninis. “These might have been the Negroes of Quareca, mentioned by Peter Martyr d Angleria, or some other American Negro nation,” asserts De Roo, “the like of which there were many, as we may see in Rafinesque’s Account of the Ancient Black Nations of America. Such are the Charruas of Brazil, the black Carabees of St. Vincent in the Gulf of Mexico, the Jamassi of Florida, the dark complexioned Californians who are perhaps the dark men mentioned in the Quiche traditions and by some old Spanish adventures. Such, again, is the tribe of which Balboa saw some representatives in his passage of the Isthmus of Darien in the year 1513. It would seem from the expressions made use of by Gomara, that these were Negroes.” {History of America Before Columbus, pp. 306-307, by P. De Roo, Philadelphia and London, 1900.) Spanish and Portugese explorers found colonies of black men on the eastern coasts of South and Central America, and in Yucatan and Nicaragua. De Roo quotes John T. Short, author of The North Americans of Antiquity, New York, 1880, on the similarity of African and American languages, as follows — “It is worthy of note that several eminent scholars have observed the remarkable similarity of grammatical structure between the Central American and certain transatlantic languages, especially the Basque and some of the languages of Western Africa.” {History of America Before Columbus, pp. 164-165.)

Most of us are familiar with the Mayan civilization of Yucatan and Central America, since American archaeologists have devoted many years of intensive research to these territories. Among the speculations concerning the origin of this culture, those of LePlongeon and Raquena are the most valuable. Professor Rafael Requena, a Venezuelan archaeologist, holds that there was once an island in the Atlantic Ocean, of continental dimensions, known to the ancients as Atlantis, that this island was settled by Egyptians, who in turn established colonies in America before the submergence of Atlantis. The findings of Professor Augustus LePlongeon are of great interest. This Franco-American archaeologist discovered the ruins of a palace in Chichen Itza in 1 874. He found in this structure, known as Prince Coh’s Palace, pictographs and inscriptions which he was able
to decipher. The story, as unraveled by LePlongeon, may be read by the student in Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx, where the professor gives his interpretation of the inscriptions and reproductions of the pictographs. Mrs. LePlongeon’s work, Queen Moo’s Talisman, might also be consulted. The story runs roughly as follows:

About 1 1,000 years ago, two brothers Princes of Yucatan, sought the hand of the ruling monarch of the land, Queen Moo, in marriage. The brothers were named Coh and Aac, respectively. Prince Coh was the successful suitor; which so enraged Prince Aac that he stabbed his brother through the heart with a stone knife, which, needless to say, caused his death. Then Aac attempted to force Queen Moo to wed him. The Queen, rather than submit, decided to flee to Atlantis. On reaching the coast she learned that great earthquakes had submerged Atlantis beneath the sea; so she sailed for Africa instead, and ended her journey in Egypt. There she was hailed as Queen, and erected the Sphinx as a memorial to her slain husband.

The foregoing story sounds like a fable, but there is probably a core of fact in it. If the Sphinx, with its Ethiopian face, is a memorial to an ancient Mayan prince, it shows that the Mayas were of African origin.

Where flows the river Nile,
The queen found rest;

There once again her days
With peace were blessed.

Did Moo a giant Sphinx from
Out of the ground

Cause to arise, and
Thus Coh’s fame renew?

Did she immortalize
Her consort true?”
{Queen Moo’s Talisman, p. 65, by Alice D. LePlongeon.)

That Atlantis was connected with the history of ancient Ethiopia there can be little doubt. The Greek philosopher, Proclus, stated in his works that he could present evidence that Atlantis at one time actually existed. He cited as his authority The Ethiopian History of Marcellus. In referring to Ethiopian history to prove the existence of Atlantis, Proclus plainly infers that Atlantis was a part of Ethiopia. (See Cory’s Ancient Fragments of the Phoenician, Carthaginian, Babylonian, Egyptian and Other Authors, London, 1876. See also, Maynard Shipley’s New Light on Prehistoric Cultures and Bramwell’s Lost
Atlantis.) Although there is scientific evidence that an island of continental dimensions once existed in what is now the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, many students of the problem of Atlantis have located it in other parts of the globe, particularly in Central America and Africa. Count deProrok ways that Atlantis, in the dimness of antiquity, covered the region now occupied by the Sahara Desert. Kirchmaier placed it in South Africa and Froebenius in West Africa. In reviewing James Bramwell’s Lost Atlantis, Mr. Lewis Gannett states that: “The German anthropologist Frobenius definitely locates it in Nigeria, whose ancient civilization he relates to that of the Etruscans and the Assyrians.” {New York Herald-Tribune, Mar. 3, 1938.) Doctor Froebenius found ruins of palaces, terra cotta fragments and beautiful statuary in Jorubaland, a district in Nigeria between the Niger River and the Atlantic Ocean; and he heard among the Jorubians legends of an ancient royal city and its palace with walls of gold, which in the long ago had sunk beneath the waves. The German scholar, Eugen Georg, is a keen student of the Atlantis question, and the following remarks of his are worthy of our attention:

The new age that began after the disappearance of Atlantis was marked at first by the world-wide dominance of Ethiopian representatives of the black race. They were supreme in Africa and Asia . . . and they even infiltrated through Southern Europe. . . . During the present era — that is the last 10,000 years — the white race… has come to possess the world. According to the occult tradition, Semitic peoples developed wherever the immigrating white colonists from the north were subjugated by the black ruling class, and inter-mixture occurred, as in oldest Egypt, Chaldea,
Arabia and Phoenicia.” {The Adventure of Mankind, by Eugen Georg, pp.
121-122, New York, 1931.)

So far we have given little or no attention to the evidence of comparative religion. The study of ancient religious history is important, for religion, like philosophy, changes but slowly. Institutional religion, being conservative and static in its outlook, has preserved much ancient lore that would have otherwise been lost to the modern student. The Greek philosopher Xenophanes (572-480 B.C.), pointed out a profound truth when he observed that the gods men worship very closely resemble the worshippers. In the words of this ancient sage: “Each man represents the gods as he himself is. The Ethiopian as black and
flat-nosed the Thracian as red-haired and blue-eyed; and if horses and oxen could paint, they would no doubt depict the gods as horses and oxen.” This being the case; when we find the great nations of the world, both past and present, worshipping black gods, then we logically conclude that these peoples are either members of the black race, or that they originally received their religion in toto or in part from black people. The proofs are abundant. The ancient gods of India are shown with Ethiopian crowns on their heads. According to the Old Testament, Moses first met Jehovah during his sojourn among the Midianites, who were an Ethiopian tribe. We learn from Hellenic tradition that Zeus, king
of the Grecian gods, so cherished the friendship of the Ethiopians that he traveled to their country twice a year to attend banquets. “All the gods and goddesses of Greece were black,” asserts Sir Godfrey Higgins, “at least this was the case with Jupiter, Baccus, Hercules, Apollo, Ammon. The goddesses Benum, Isis, Hecate, Diana, Juno, Metis, Ceres, Cybele were black.” (Anacalypsis, Vol. I, Book IV, Chap. I.) Even the Romans, who received their religion mainly from the Greeks, admitted their debt to Egypt and Ethiopia. This may be well illustrated by the following passage from The Golden Ass or Metamorphosis, by Apuleius. The author, as an initiate of the Isis cult is represented as being addressed by that goddess: “I am present; I who am Nature, the parent of things, queen of all the elements . . . the primitive Phrygians called me Press imunitica, the mother or the gods; the native Athenians, Ceropian Minerva; the floating Cyprians, Paphian Venus … the inhabitants of Eleusis, the ancient goddess Ceres. Some again have invoked me as Juno, others as Bellona, others as Hecate, and others Rhamnusia; and those who are enlightened by the emerging rays of the rising sun, the Ethiopians, Ariians and Egyptians, powerful in ancient learning, who reverence by divinity with ceremonies perfectly proper, call me by my true appellation, Queen Isis.” (Doane’s Bible Myths, Note, p. 478.)

A study of the images of ancient deities of both the Old and New Worlds reveal their Ethiopic origin. This is noted by Kenneth R. H. Mackezie in T. A. Buckley’s Cities of the Ancient World, p. 180: “From the wooly texture of the hair, I am inclined to assign to the Buddha of India, the Fuhi of China, the Sommonacom of the Siamese, the Zaha of the Japanese, and the Quetzalcoatl of the Mexicans, the same, and indeed an African, or rather Nubian, origin.” Most of these black gods were regarded as crucified saviors who died to save mankind by being nailed to a cross, or tied to a tree with arms outstretched as if on a cross, or slain violently in some other manner. Of these crucified saviors, the most prominent were Osiris and Horus of Egypt, Krishna of India, Mithra of Persia, Quetazlcoatl of Mexico, Adonis of Babylonia and Attis of Phrygia. Nearly all of these slain savior-gods have the following stories related about them: They are born of a virgin, on or near Dec. 25 th (Christmas); their births are heralded by a star; they are born either in a cave or stable; they are slain, commonly by crucifixion; they descend into hell, and rise from the dead at the beginning of Spring (Easter), and finally ascend into heaven. The parallels between the legendary lives of these pagan messiahs and the life of Jesus Christ
as recorded in the Bible are so similar that progressive Bible scholars now admit that stories of these heathen Christs have been woven into the life-story of Jesus. (These remarkable parallels are discussed and interpreted in a pamphlet, Christianity Before Christ, by John G. Jackson, New York, 1938.)

The late Mr. Maynard Shipley, President of The Science League of America, made a very scholarly study of the various mythologies and religions of the world, and in the concluding passage of a brilliant essay, Christian Doctrines in Pre-Christian America, he offers a profoundly thought-provoking statement:

That the ancient pagan creeds, legends and myths — part of the universal mythos — should be found embodied in the religion of the ancient Mexicans, and that all these again are found to be but the original sources of the modern orthodox Christian religion, is by no means inexplicable, and need not be attribute to the subtlety of the Ubiquitous Devil. The explanation is that all religions and all languages of the civilized races of men had a common origin in an older seat of civilization.

Where that original center of culture was is another story.

The evidence seems to show that the “original center of culture,” referred to by Mr. Shipley, was that vast domain known to the classical geographers and historians as Ethiopia. A study of religious images throws much light on this early civilization. The tau (T-shaped) cross is thought by many Christians to be a unique emblem of their faith. The fact is that this cross is of ancient Ethiopian origin. In the words of an outstanding student of symbolism: “The Ethiopic form of the tau is an exact prototype of the conventional Christian cross; or, to state the fact in its chronological relation, the Christian cross is made in the exact image of the Ethiopian tau.” (Sex Symbolism. P. 9, by William J, Fielding, Little Blue Book No. 904.) The cross was known to all the great ancient nations, and was sometimes shown with the image of a man upon it. The Church Father, Minucius Felix, writing in the early part of the third century, severely rebukes the Pagans for their adoration of crosses: “I must tell you that we neither adore crosses nor desire them; you it is ye Pagans … for what else are your ensigns, flags and standards, but crosses gilt and beautiful. Your victorious trophies not only represent a cross, but a cross
with a man upon it.” Commenting on the preceding extract, the American scholar, T. W. Doane, notes that:

It is very evident that this celebrated Christian Father alludes to some Gentle mystery, of which the prudence of his successors has deprived us. When we compare this with the fact that for centuries after the time assigned for the birth of Jesus Christ, he was not represented as a man on a cross, and that the Christians did not have such a thing as a crucifix, we are inclined to think that the effigies of a black or dark-skinned crucified man, which were to be seen in many places in Italy even during the last century, may have had something to do with it. (Bible Myths, p. 197, 7 th

The same writer also refers to “the Mexican crucified god being sometimes represented as black,” and that “crosses were also found in Yucatan, as well as Mexico, with a man upon them.” (Ibid., p. 201.)

The numerous black madonnas and infants in European cathedrals are discussed in detail by Sir Godfrey Higgins in The Anacalypsis, Vol. I, Book JV, Chap. I, to which the interested student is referred. However, the remarks of Mr. Shipley on this point are worthy of our attention:

Very suggestive is the fact that representations of the virgin mother and infant savior are often black. This is true in the case of the paintings and images of Isis and Horus, of Devaki and Krishna, and in many cases of Mary and Jesus. The most ancient pictures and statues in Italy and other
parts of Europe, which are adored by the faithful as representations of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus, reveal the infant draped in white, but with face black and in the arms of a black mother. . . . How does it happen that the Virgin Mother of the Mexican Savior-God so closely resembled the Black Virgins of Egypt and Europe? Had they not all a common origin?” (Sex and The Garden of Eden Myth, pp. 50-51, by Maynard Shipley, Little Blue Book No. 1 188.)

Mr. A. H. Verrill, an American archaeologist, visited an Indian shrine in a small town in Guatemala a few years ago, and found that on a special festival day Indians traveled to this
little church to bow down to the image of a Black Christ. From the attendant ceremonies, Verrill judged the rite to be of Mayan origin, (see Verrill’s Old Civilizations of the New World, New York, 1938.) The Mayas possessed knowledge of the arts and sciences equivalent to that of the ancients of the Old World, but upon that we cannot dwell, since
limitations of space forbid it. The reader is referred to Professor Paul Radin’s fine book on the American Indians, where after surveying the marvelous scientific achievements of the Mayas of Yucatan and Central America , Dr. Radin admits that: “No excavations have ever revealed to us any civilization of a simpler nature from which this very elaborate culture
could possibly have been developed.” (The Story of the American Indian, p. 77, Garden City, 1937.) Egypt and Western Asia tell the same story. “In each case we have a standard or measuring-rod of authentic historical record,” declares Samuel Laing, “of certainly not less than 8,000 and more probably 9,000 or 10,000 years, from the present time; and in each case we find ourselves at this remote date, in the presence, not of rude beginnings, but of a civilization already ancient and far advanced. We have populous cities, celebrated temples, an organized priesthood, an advanced state of agriculture and of the industrial and fine arts; writing and books so long known that their origin is lost in myth; religions in which advanced philosophical and moral ideas are already developed; astronomical systems which imply a long course of accurate observations. How long this prehistoric age may have lasted, and how many centuries it may have taken to develop such a civilization, from the primitive beginnings of Neolithic and Paleolithic origins, is a matter of conjecture. All we can infer is, that it must have required an immense time, much longer than that embraced by the subsequent period of historical record.”
(Human Origins, by Samuel Laing, p. 30, London, 1913.)

Much more could be said on this subject, but since this essay is addressed mainly to readers who have little time for the study of history, it must be made as concise as possible. The numerous citations from standard scientific and historical works, it is hoped, will be of some benefit to students who are out of reach of large public libraries, or who lack the leisure time necessary for reading and research along these lines.


The Nile Valley Civilization and the Spread of African Culture

with 4 comments
By Yosef ben-Jochannan

(A lecture delivered for the Minority Ethnic Unit of the Greater London Council, London, England, March 6–8, 1986. It was addressed mainly to the African community in London consisting of African people from the Caribbean and African people from Africa.)

When we speak of the Nile Valley, of course we are talking about 4,100 miles of civilization, or the beginning of the birth of what is today called civilization. I can go to one case of literature in particular which will identify the Africans as the beginners of the civilization to which I refer. And since I am not foreign to the works of Africans in Egypt, otherwise called Egyptians, I think that should be satisfactory proof. This proof is housed in the London Museum that is holding artifacts of Egypt. In that museum you will find a document called the Papyrus of Hunifer. At least you should find it there. It was there when Sir E. A. Wallace Budge used it in his translation as part of the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Papyrus of Hunifer.

It was there at that time, a copy of which is in the library of Syracuse University in New York, and I quote from the hieratic writing, “We came from the beginning of the Nile where God Hapi dwells, at the foothills of The Mountains of the Moon.” “We,” meaning the Egyptians, as stated, came from the beginning of the Nile. Where is “the beginning of the Nile?” The farthest point of the beginning of the Nile is in Uganda; this is the White Nile. Another point is in Ethiopia. The Blue Nile and White Nile meet in Khartoum; and the other side of Khartoum is the Omdurman Republic of Sudan. From there it flows from the south down north. And there it meets with the Atbara River in Atbara, Sudan. Then it flows completely through Sudan (Ta-Nehisi, Ta-Zeti or Ta-Seti, as it was called), part of that ancient empire which was one time adjacent to the nation called Meroe or Merowe. From that, into the southern part of what the Romans called “Nubia,” and parallel on the Nile, part of which the Greeks called “Egypticus”; the English called it “Egypt” and the Jews in their mythology called it “Mizrain” which the current Arabs called Mizr/Mizrair. Thus it ends in the Sea of Sais, also called the Great Sea, today’s Mediterranean Sea. When we say thus, we want to make certain that Hapi is still God of the Nile, shown as a hermaphrodite having the breasts of a woman and the penis of a man. God Hapi is always shown tying two symbols of the “Two Lands,” Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, during Dynastic Periods, or from the beginning of the Dynastic Periods. The lotus flower is the symbol of the south, and the papyrus plant, the symbol of the north.

But we need to go back beyond Egypt. I used “Egypt” as a starting point, in that of all the ancient civilizations in the world, Egypt has more ancient documents and other artifacts than any other civilization one could speak of. So when you hear them talking about “Sumer” and “Babylon,” and all those other places, theoretically, they can’t show you the artifacts. Thus my position is, first hand information is the best proof; and I can show you the bones and other remains of Zinjanthropus Boisei about 1.8 million years ago. But no one can show me the bones and remains of Adam and Eve, et al.

So I have the proof and you have the belief. If you want to see it you can go to the Croydon National Museum in Nairobi, Kenya; there, you’ll see the Bones Zinjanthropus Boisei. If you want to see the remains of “Lucy,” you can go to the national Museum associated with the University of Addis Ababa. Of course, there are a host of other human fossils that existed thousands of years ago all over Africa; but you can’t find one “Adam” or one “Eve” in any part of Asia.

But we have to go beyond that. We can look at the artifacts before writing came into being. We will then be in archaeological finds along the Nile. Also you would find that there were two groups of Africans; one called “Hutu,” and one called “Twa.” The Twa and Hutu take us back into at least 400,000 B.C.E. (Before the Common “Christian” Era) in terms of artifacts. The most ancient of these artifacts, one of the most important in Egypt, is called the “Ankh,” which the Christians adopted and called the “Crux Ansata” or “Ansata Cross.” The Ankh was there amongst these people, equally the “Crook” and “Flail.” All of these symbols came down to us from the Twa and Hutu. You know the Twa by British anthropologists who called them “pygmies.” There is no such thing in Africa known as a “pygmy,” much less “pygmies.” But the people call themselves Twa and Hutu, so that’s what they are.

If we look at the southern tip of Africa, a place called “Monomotapa,” before the first Europeans came there with the Portuguese in 1486, C.E./A.D. (Christian Eera), a man called Captian Bartholomew Diaz, and subsequently another European and his group came, one called Captain Vasco da Gama, who came there ten years later in 1496; when they came to that part of Africa they met another group of people there as well, which they called “Kaffirs.” Now this is a long time before the Boers came there in 1652. When the Boers came those Africans may have gone to the moon on vacation (or there they “didn’t meet any natives” [Africans] so they say. But one thing is certain, that Bartholomew Diaz and Vasco da Gama had already left records showing that when they arrived there at Monomotapa the Khaffirs [Africans], including the small ones (Khoi-Khoi, and Khalaharis) (remember I didn’t say “Bushmen” or “Hottentots,” that’s nonsense, the racist names given them by the British and Dutch Boers), were already there.

So with all of these people that were found in this area we could go back at least 35,000 to 40,000 years to another group of people who left their writings and their pictures. Those people are called Grimaldi. The Grimaldi were there in the southern tip of Africa, and traveled up the entire western coast, then came to the northwestern coast of Africa, and crossed into Spain. Not only in Spain, but all the way up to Austria; it was found that the Grimaldi had traveled and left their drawings in caves all along the way. In the Museum of Natural History, New York City, New York, you can see Grimaldi paintings going back to at least 35,000 years ago. I remind you that it is only about 31,000 years before Adam and Eve! It is very important you realize that, the next time you talk about Adam and Eve. So we are told that there is an Adam and Eve that started the world, but that is a “Jewish world” and I’m talking about before Abraham, the first Jew.

The country that I am talking about now goes back to a period called the Sibellian Period. Sibellian I brings us to a period where you will find hieratic writings, the type that no one in modern times has been able to decipher. Sibellian II existed about 25,000 years before the birth of Jesus-the Christ. Sibillian III would bring us to about 10,000 B.C.E., in which we now have the Stellar Calendar that I spoke about, and the pre-dynastic period will be considered from the same, 10,000 to 6,000 B.C.E., and that is the point when High Priest Manetho, in about 227 or 226 B.C.E., attempted to present for the Greeks, who had imposed upon him to write a kind of chronological history of the Nile Valley. Europeans, instead of saying what Manetho said in his chronology of the history of the Nile Valley, forget to say it was at the end of the Nile Valley he addressed. For example, the “First Cataract,” i.e., an obstruction in the Nile River, is at a place called the City of Aswan, when in fact it is the last; the “Sixth Cataract” is in fact Aswan, Upper (or Southern) Egypt.

This is important to understand, because Egypt, which most of us deal with and forget the rest of the Nile Valley, is not at the beginning of the Nile Valley high cultures, but the end. High culture came down the Nile; but if you go on the Nile you will always hear about the “pyramids of Egypt.” Yes, they are the “world’s largest”; they will blow your mind, so to speak, but they are not the first pyramids of Africa; they are the last. There are thirty-two pyramids in Sudan, none in Ethiopia, and seventy-two in Egypt. What happened is that as the Africans became much more competent in engineering, etc., they increased the size of their pyramids in sophistication; thus at the end of the Nile you could see different forms and the colossal pyramids, the largest being one by Pharaoh Khufu, whom Herodotus called Cheops, and that would be one of the pyramids built in the 4th Dynasty. The first of the pyramids of Egypt being that by Imhotep, for his Pharaoh Djoser/Sertor (“Zozer”), the third pharaoh of the Third Dynasty. The architect was the multi-genus, Imhotep, who introduced to mankind the first structure ever built out of stone, and with joints without mortar of any other binding materials.

Now you could understand if I said that the pyramids in Sudan ore older than the pyramids in Egypt, and I simultaneously say that Imhotep built the first stone structure known by man, it would seem to be a contradiction. It is not a contradiction, because those in Sudan were built by two methods. There were some pyramids called silt pyramids, and the second method was mud-brick pyramids. Not the type of “bricks made of mud and straw” mentioned in the Hebrew Holy Torah, specifically the Book of Exodus. That has to be made clear. How did the silt pyramids come about? That type of pyramid came about due to the Inundation Period of the Nile River. This was the period when the Nile River overflowed its banks bringing down the silt from the highlands of Ethiopia and Uganda, and from the Mountain of the Moon, which the people of Kenya called Kilimanjaro.

It is in this perspective that we are talking about Africa as a people. Because, all of that period of time we are talking about, you can go there now and see the artifacts in museums all over Europe and the United States of America. I’m not speaking to you chronologically, because I am using my recall; let us go back to the event that took place; and as I thought about this, something about medicine came to my mind, I remember going to the double Temple of Haroeris and Sobek; Haroeris represented by the Cobra Snake and Sobek represented by the Nile Crocodile. In that temple at the rear, you will find drawings of medical instruments going back to the time of Imhotep. That will bring us to about 285 B.C.E. to the construction of the Double Temple which was during Greek rule. Most of the medical instruments you see there are the exact dimension, the exact styles and shapes still used in medical operation theaters today. You could see all kinds of symbols relating to the use of incense; you could also find the beginnings of the aspect of the calendars (the dating process for the farmers) the same the Coptic farmers still use, the 13-monts calendar, twelve months of thirty days each, and one month of five days. The same one the Ethiopian government still uses, officially; that calendar still a means of telling time to date. When we go to the Temple of the Goddess Het-Heru (Hathor) at a place called Dendara, we see the beginnings of what is called the Zodiac. The French stole the original, and in carrying it to France, in hot pursuit by the Arabs of Egypt, they dropped it in the River Nile. Yet a Frenchman said he remembered everything, and he produced a whole new one within two weeks. So if you read Revelations, like this false Zodiac, it has nothing to do with St. John, but in fact Bishop Athanasius. This is the same thing. How could the French remember the stolen Egyptian Zodiac so well? It was rectangular, but what they remembered is circular. Thus it is the French who made the Zodiac they placed in the Temple of Goddess Het-Heru for tourist these days, and the tourist guides will tell you that is the French one. So!

You can see that even in those early times we were dealing with astronomy, and Europeans have not gone one inch further than those Africans along the Nile. What you have to remember, however, is that the Papyrus of Hunefer deals with the Africans who came down the Nile, who were already using this type of thing: and we must wonder since we don’t have the day-to-day, or enough artifacts to put them together to see the transition. Why is it that the Yorubas of West Africa have the same structure of the deity system as the Nile Valley? I don’t remember much because the Yorubas in their own folklore speak of having come from the Nile Valley; so you can stop wondering right there, since it is from their earliest teachings in their folklores.

When we go down the Nile and look at the engineering, and our engineering goes not only to the building of the pyramids by Imhotep, this multi-genius, but equally to the time of Senwosret II, with the division of the Nile water; equally to stop the rush of water. That would put us right back to 2,200 Before the Common “Christian” Era (B.C.E.).

The use of navigation and navigational instruments by using the sun and the stars as navigational tools—we have the best record of that going back even before Pharaoh Necho II, who saw the navigation of the entire continent and had a map of Africa in almost the common shape it is; and that dates to ca 600 B.C.E. Whereas Herodotus, who came to Egypt in 457 B.C.E., and Erastosthenes, who came there between 274–194 B.C.E., used maps which were rectangular in shape. They reflected the end of Africa being where the Sahara is, the southern end of the Sahara, meaning that they had no concept of Africa from about Ethiopia south to Monomotapa, now called the Republic of South Africa. It is important to note that England played a major role in most of the distortion that we are talking about.

Then we come again to another part that we are talking about, that is, agriculture, before we even come to writing. At the gathering state, when man observes the seed germinating, and out of that came the religious conflict, which other men are to later follow, comes out of one of the most secret symbols of the religiosity of Egypt and other parts of Africa. We are now talking about the dung beetle, and the observation of the African along the Nile with respect to the dung beetle, otherwise called the Scarab. The dung beetle hibernates, goes into the manure of a donkey, horse and the cow, only animals with grass manure. And that beetle remains in there for twenty-eight days; you know that particular beetle died in your mind. And when the beetle finally comes out, what better symbol will you have than the resurrection?

The beetle played the same part in the religion of the Egyptians that spread to other parts of Africa, and subsequently into Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and so on. Thus the beetle became the symbol of resurrection. Of course the religion itself had started then. Just imagine you’ve got to go back 1000 years and see your woman giving birth to a baby. I hope I did not frighten most of you fellows about childbirth; because if you had some experience of seeing a baby being born, you would be less quick to abandon your child. As you are standing there and this baby comes from the woman’s organ. You witness this, while the pelvic region is expanding about four or five inches in diameter for the head to pass through, and you are there. You can’t perceive that you have anything to do with this 100,000 or 5,000 years ago. Witnessing the birth of that baby sets you thinking. You immediately start to transcend your mind, and you also start to attribute this to something beyond. Thus you start to believe. You start to wonder’ why is it here? Where did it come from? And where is it going ? Because you are now experiencing birth! But your experience is coming from a woman. Thus you start to pray and the woman becomes your Goddess, your first deity. She becomes Goddess Nut, the goddess of the sky; and you become God Geb, the god of the earth. You suddenly see the sun in all of this and you realize that when the sun came the light came; and when the sun went, the light went; when the moon came you saw a moon in there and you don’t see any light because the light is not shining on it. So you see there is a God, at least there is the major attribute of God because you realize when that doesn’t happen, the crops and the vegetation don’t come.

You also realize that the sun and the moon make the river rise, and the Africans regarding these factors created the science of astronomy and astrology. Astrology, having nothing to do with your love life. Astronomy is the chart of the scientific data of the movement of the planets and the sun and so forth, to the movement of each other. Astrology is a physical relationship of astronomy, the water rising at the high tide and that is what the ancients spoke about and the division of the two disciplines.

It was the Greeks like Plato, Aristotle and others who came and learned. In those days the students would come and read for their education. There were no books to take home, there were no publishing houses like now. You had only one book and most of the subjects were taught orally. Certain instructions were given toe to toe, shoulder to shoulder, mouth to ear. I will go no further than that. Some of you here may know how that was done and under what conditions. The English adopted it and called it Freemasonry. Sir Albert Churchward’s book, Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man, is a corner stone of Freemasonry. Churchward was a big man in England. Besides being a physician, he was also one of those who made English Freemasonry what it is today. So in another adaptation, the British took twenty-two tablets from Egypt, brought them here and set up what they called “Freemasonry.” Of course, the Americans followed suit.

These Africans had moved along the entire continent. You see, we are treating the Egyptians today as if the Egyptians had a barrier that stopped them from going to other parts of Africa. So we say the Egyptians were of a special race, and they had nothing to do with the other Africans. Can you imagine the Thames River at this side stopping the people from the other side from contact with this side, especially when a man standing over there saw a woman here bathing naked; do you think that that river would stop him? Do you think that the Alps stopped a German from going to see an Italian woman? What makes you think that the little river or a little bit of sand would stop a man from seeing a woman naked over there in Africa? I’m using these common symbols so that you can appreciate what I mean. So it isn’t because when you go to Egypt you will notice that the ancient Egyptians are shown by the artist as the ancient Nubians or Ethiopians or anybody else, except when you are talking about the conquerors. In most of these museums they purposely bring you the statues of the Greeks, of the Romans, of the Persians, the Assyrians, and the Hyksos. They don’t bring you any of the Africans. So when they can’t help it, and they need to bring you one that you call a typical African like Pharaoh Mentuhotep III, it is important to Egypt that they have to show him. What they did was to make his nose flat, so you can’t tell the difference.

Thus once in a while, but when they couldn’t do it, what they did say, was: “Well, Negroes came into Egypt in the Eighteenth Dynasty.” Now it couldn’t be, because the Portuguese hadn’t created Negroes until the seventeenth century, C.E., but how come the Negroes created by the Portuguese have a place they called Negroland, which was in fact the Songhai Empire? In the map you could see where Negroland was, and so how do you get the “Negroes and Negroland” way back in the Eighteenth Dynasty? The Eighteenth Dynasty has such figures as Akhenaton, or Amenhotep IV, and his father, whom the Greeks called Amenhotep III; in the West you would call him Amenophis III. The civilization in Africa did not spread only from along the Nile, but it spread into your own writings, documents, and belief system right here in England.

I now go back to the Etruscans, who later became the Romans; the people of Pyrrhus, who later became the Greeks, because Pyrrhus was what later became Greece. But we don’t have these people until they came from the island of the Mediterranean or the Great Sea. At the time when they left, the Egyptians were the colonizers of other Africans in Egypt. Setting up the first educational system for the people of Pyrrhus, where the borders of Libus (now Libya) and Egypt meet; a little enclave which later became Africa. It is there that the educational system for the Greeks occurred, and from there the Africans moved the system to a place called the city of Elea. It is there that the Greeks would come. This is after they left the Greek peninsula, go to the Italian peninsula where they would meet others to come over to Libus, because they couldn’t come the other way as they were going illegally, sneaking out! Remember, the period of time of which we are speaking, there is no writing in Greece yet. Until Homer there is no writing in Greece. No record you could deal with. Whatever they learned, came from outside, came from Egypt, came from Babylonia. The Babylonian writings are part of this origin of Greece as well as the writings from at least 4100 B.C.E., the First Dynastic period, and this is not when writing started along the Nile. This is the First Dynasty, when Egypt reorganized herself from under two men. The war between the north, headed by King Scorpion, and the south headed by King Narmer, and that will bring us to about 4100 B.C.E. when Narmer started United or Dynastic Egypt.

So the pre-dynastic period was the period of the introduction of religion, of mathematics and science, engineering, law, medicine and so forth. The period of documentation also started then to some extent in the First Dynasty. The period of belief in “One God” really did not start with Akhnaten, that is, when somebody said there must be only “One God.” But the period of absorbing “One God” didn’t start then, because it is that period in 4100 B.C.E., when Narmer, after defeating Scorpion, the leader of the North, decided that the deity of the North, God Amen (which you say at the end of every prayer, you are still praying to the African God Amen), be put together with his own deity of the South, God Ra. But they didn’t notice that he made “One God’ out of the two, God Amen-Ra. He used them in that respect. But the people fell into civil war and there was division again. From that union, God Amen-Ra became God Ptah, and the Goddess of Justice became Maat. Justice, shown as a scale which is the same symbol now used in the United States for justice, except that there is no justice in the United States, because one scale is up, the other is down, and that is not justice; that is “just this”! Justice is when both scales are on the same level, and so the African in America who asks for justice is being foolish. The symbol says you will never get it; you’ll get “just this”!

Before these symbols came the laws on morality and human behavior, the Admonitions to Goddess Maat—Goddess of Justice and Law. There were forty-two Admonitions to Goddess Maat forming the foundation of justice. Then there are the teachings of Amen-em-eope one thousand years before Solomon stole them, some of which he plagiarized word for word, and others he paraphrased, which are now called the Proverbs of Solomon. And yet if we could have stopped there we would have done enough. But it wasn’t the last of it, so to speak. Because we came down with jurisprudence, the basis of law attached to the deity which we are teaching now as jurisprudence. And there is a thing in the African jurisprudence that a harborer should not get away from the penalty of the thief.

During the earliest time of the Kingdom of Ethiopia, King Uri, the first King of Ethiopia had spoken about, “justice isn’t based upon strength, but on morality of the condition of the event.” This now interprets as “the stronger should not mistreat the weaker”; and this is supposed to be something said by Plato, just like the nonsense we hear that “the Greeks had democracy.” The Greeks have never democracy. They never had one in the past and they don’t have it now. When they were supposed to have had democracy in Greece no more than five percent of the people had anything you could call democracy. When you look at that, you find it was from this background going back to the time of Amen-em-eope that theses fundamental laws came from, you could see why those laws spread from North Africa and into Numidia, which is today called Tunisia.

It is at Numidia then that Augustine’s family, continuing the practice of the Manichean religion, carried it into Rome later in the Christian Era. When he left his education in Khart-Haddas or Carthage, it is that same teaching from the Manicheans that Augustine carried into Rome. Ambrose, the greatest Christian scholar in all of Europe, became stunned. But when this twenty-nine-year-old boy arrived and spoke to Ambrose about his education in Carthage, Ambrose said, “Man, you’re heavy.” And Augustine took over. It was the same teachings that Guido the Monk, who went to Spain in the time of the Moors, had taught at the University of Salamanca which they had established. And it was the same Manichean concept that made Augustine write against the Stoics. Augustine wrote the fundamental principle that was to govern modern Christianity in its morality, when he presented them with a book called On Christian Doctrine. He had previously written the Holy City of God. If you want to check Augustine to see if he was an indigenous African read his Confessions. There he will tell you who he was.

When Islam came it was supposed to bring something new, but I ask “what did it bring new?” Because Islam was supposed to have started with an African woman by the name Hagar, according to Islamic literature. Hagar was from Egypt, and Abraham was from Asia—the City of Ur in Chaldea. At the time of Abraham’s birth a group of African people, called Elamites, were ruling. Before Abraham, the sacred river of India has been named after General Ganges, an African who came from Ethiopia. The River Ganges still carries the name of General Ganges. And I notice in India they haven’t given up the symbolic worship of the cow, which represents the Worship of Goddess Het-Heru, Hathor, the “Golden Calf” of the Jews. They also haven’t given up the obelisk that still stays there, which the Hindus copied. Again came an Englishman by the name of Sir Geoffrey Higgins, who published a two-volume work in 1836, and in Volume One in particular, he is speaking about all the deities of the past being “black,” but said: “I can’t accept that they could have come from even Egypt, they must have come from India.” He couldn’t accept it!

Out of that religion of the Nile Valley came the Religion of Ngail in Kenya from the same river base. And as the situation changed you had the Amazulu going for it, because the Zimbabwe river is still there. The people who were originally there were kicked off their land by the British, and equally by the Germans. When the German Dr. Carl Peters came there, the struggle between the Germans and the English for Tanganyika was going strong; both sides killed off the people around that area who spoke the local Rowzi language. So when you talk about Zimbabwe, don’t think about the nation alone. Zimbabwe also means a metropolis of buildings equal in design to the pyramids’ cone shape. When the sunlight coming in strikes the altar, the altar shines because of the sunlight. They had a mixture of gold and silver, the exact thing as what happens when you are down at the rock-hewn Temple of Rameses II, which is on November 22nd, when the sun comes in past the doors. It also happens in February. This shows the commonality of the African culture throughout Africa.

And lastly, just remember that when you see the Ashantis, the Yorubas, and all the other African people, they were not always where they are now. Arab and European slavery made the African migrate from one part of the African world to the other; that is why you can see in Akan culture as written by the African writer Dr. J. B. Danquah, the people with the same hair-cut, and the same beads and jewelry system as Queen Nefertari (the wife of Pharaoh Rameses II in the Nineteenth Dynasty), and Queen Nefertiti (the wife of Pharaoh Akhnaton in the Eighteen Dynasty). It is too much to speak about it, really.

If you had known this when you were much younger, you too over there, you would have wanted a nation; for you too would have realized that if you have a golden toilet in another man’s house (nation) you have got nothing. It is only when you have your own house (nation) that you can demand anything, because you don’t even need to demand anything, you do it. It is only when you have your own nation that you can decide the value and the judgment of beauty. If I was ruling England and you came to run for a beauty contest, you could be disqualified even before you came. You’re talking about racism; why not? This isn’t your country. You cannot run for a beauty contest in a white man’s country. You don’t see any Europeans winning any beauty contest in China, Japan or India; but the funny thing is that they come and win one in Nigeria. As a matter of fact Miss Trinidad was a white girl. Miss Barbados also a white girl, and Miss Jamaica was a white girl, all of them in a Black country. And this is what I’m saying. You can call it racist, but you know I’m telling the truth.

What I hope I have done is to make you understand the necessity for further research; but more than all, the necessity to talk to your child. When your physician tells you that you are pregnant that’s when you start teaching your child. Talk to the child at the time of birth. This is when his and/or her education starts, before he/she gets out of school, and before you and I die.

Written by Tseday

September 16, 2008 at 2:36 pm

The Afrikan Presence in the Ancient World

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Afrikan Historians of the Nineteenth Century Knew the Importance of Nile Valley Civilization and the Afrikan Presence in the Ancient World

Despite the vigorous debate among certain Afrikan and European scholars today concerning the Afrikan origin of Nile Valley civilization and of humankind, no such dispute appears to have existed among Afrikan intellectuals during the 1800s. In fact, between 1841 and 1883 Afrikan historians in the United States explained in four histories the central importance of Afrikan people and civilization in world history.

The earliest writer was James W. C. Pennington, who in A Text Book of the Origin and History of the Colored People (1841) based his understanding of human origins on the Christian bible. Afrikans, he argued, were descendants of Noah through Ham, whose sons were Cush (Ethiopia-Nubia), Misraim (Kemet or ancient Egypt), Phut (Somalia) and Canaan (Palestine).1  Pennington said Afrikans in the United States were “properly the sons of Cush and Misraim amalgamated.”2

The sons of Cush, according to the biblical account, settled in Western Asia, the so-called Middle East, “‘bounded east by the eastern branch of the Euphrates and the Persian gulf, south by Arabia, or the Arabian Sea, west by the Red Sea and Egypt, and north by Canaan and Syria.'”3  They also settled in Afrika itself, he wrote.

Pennington also wrote the “Egyptians and the Ethiopians are confederated in the same government, and soon became the same people in politics, literature and peculiarities. … the conclusion is clear that the two nations were equals in the arts and sciences for which Egypt is admitted on all hands to have been so renowned.”4   In this conclusion Pennington relies upon Roman and Greek writers and contemporary European historians of antiquity.5

Also relying upon the Christian bible, Robert Benjamin Lewis in Light and Truth: Containing the Universal History of the Colored and Indian Race, from the Creation of the World to the Present Time (1844) wrote that all of human history began in Afrika with Afrikans. Lewis located the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve in Ethiopia, concluding that “Ethiopia (Gen. ii. 13,) was black, and the first people were Ethiopians, or blacks.”6

He added: “That portion of the earth which was first peopled, after Adam and Eve had left Paradise, was the land of Ethiopia, by the Ethiopians, on the river Gihon, that went out of the Garden of Eden, ‘which compasseth the whole land (or country) of Ethiopia,’ 4003 years before Christ. … The children of Ethiopia were from Adam to Noah” and through Noah’s progeny.7

Lewis saw no white-skinned people in the beginning of human history. Of Noah’s three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japhet, he wrote: “To the descendants of Ham, I have generally given the name of Ethiopians — blacks with frizzled or curly hair. The descendants of Shem were denominated Assyrians and Syrians — blacks with long straight hair.”8   As for the progeny of Japhet, Lewis writes they “were also denominated colored people by the Grecian historian.”9

Lewis also commented on the ancient Nile Valley. To the Afrikans of Kemet (ancient Egypt) can be credited, among other things, he wrote, the invention of the alphabet, the invention of books and paper, writing instruments such as the pen, the science of embalming, and the use of linen cloth.10

“It was the Egyptians that discovered the elementary principles; studied the sciences and arts, and the phenomena, and laws of nature; gave names to the planets, and furnished the archetype of those civil and religious systems, which prevailed in that quarter of the world, and have since spread into every civilized nation,” Lewis wrote.11  They formed the first ships and the first libraries and mastered philosophy, mathematics, jurisprudence, medicine, and magic.12

Nineteen years later, William Wells Brown in The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements (1863) discussed an Ethiopian origin of Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) civilization. “It is the generally received opinion of the most eminent historians and ethnologists, that the Ethiopians were really negroes … That, in the earliest periods of history, the Ethiopians had attained a high degree of civilization, … and that to the learning and science derived from them we must ascribe those wonderful monuments which still exist to attest to the power and skill of the ancient Egyptians.“13

As for the Kemites (ancient Egyptians), Brown wrote: “Volney assumes it a settled point that the Egyptians were black. Herodotus, who travelled extensively through that interesting land, set them down as black, with curled hair, and having negro features.” 14

Similarly, George Washington Williams in History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880 (1883) wrote that Afrikan presence and influence extended into ancient southern and far east Asia. “Now, these substantial and indisputable traces of the march of the Negro races through Japan and Asia lead us to conclude that the Negro race antedates all profane history,” he observed. “And while the great body of the Negro races have been located geographically in Africa, they have been, in no small sense, a cosmopolitan people. Their wanderings may be traced from the rising to the setting sun.”

Williams wrote that Afrikans were the most ancient people of the planet and the oldest and most indigenous of the peoples of Asia. “Monuments and temples, sepulchred stones and pyramids, rise up to declare the antiquity of the Negro races.” Scientific investigation concludes “the Negro type of man was the most ancient, and the indigenous race of Asia, as far north as the lower range of the Himalaya Mountains, and presents at length many curious facts which cannot … be otherwise explained.” He added: “Traces of this black race are still found along the Himalaya range from the Indus to Indo-China, and the Malay peninsula, and in a mixed form all through the southern states to Ceylon.”15

[Biographical statement, if needed: Ahati N. N. Toure is a Ph.D. candidate in Africana and American history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.]


1 James W. C. Pennington, A Text Book of the Origin and History, etc. etc. of the Colored People (Hartford, CT: L. Skinner, Printer, 1841; reprint Detroit: Negro History Press, nd), 10.
2 Pennington, 12.
3 Pennington, 11-12.
4 Pennington, 22.
5 Pennington, 22-23; and R. B. Lewis, Light and Truth: Containing the Universal History of the Colored and Indian Race, from the Creation of the World to the Present Time (Boston: Published by a Committee of Colored Gentlemen, Benjamin F. Roberts, Printer, 1844), 309-315.
6 Lewis, 10.
7 Lewis, 15.
8 Lewis, 13.
9 Lewis, 19.
10 Lewis, 280-282.
11 Lewis, 282-283.
12 Lewis, 283.
13 William Wells Brown, The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements (New York: Thomas Hamilton, and Boston: R. F. Wallcut, 1863), 32.
14 Ibid.
15 George Washington Williams, History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens; together with a Preliminary Consideration of the Unity of the Human Family, an Historical Sketch of Africa, and an Account of the Negro Governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia. In Two Volumes, Volume I: 1619 to 1800 (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1883), 18-19.

Written by Tseday

September 16, 2008 at 6:03 am


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The Ruins of Empires and the Law of Nature
By C.F. Volney (1890)

I. Origin of the idea of God: Worship of the elements and of the physical powers of nature.
…”It was not till after having overcome these obstacles, and gone through a long career in the night of history, that man, reflecting on his condition, began to perceive that he was subjected to forces superior to his own, and independent of his will. The sun enlightened and warmed him, the fire burned him, the thunder terrified him, the wind beat upon him, the water overwhelmed him. All beings acted upon him powerfully and irresistibly. He sustained this action for a long time, like a machine, without enquiring the cause; but the moment he began his enquiries, he fell into astonishment; and, passing from the surprise of his first reflections to the reverie of curiosity, he began a chain of reasoning.”First, considering the action of the elements on him, he conceived an idea of weakness and subjection on his part, and of power and domination on theirs; and this idea of power was the primitive and fundamental type of every idea of God.”Secondly, the action of these natural existences excited in him sensations of pleasure or pain, of good or evil; and by a natural effect of his organization, he conceived for them love or aversion; he desired or dreaded their presence; and fear or hope gave rise to the first idea of religion.”Then, judging everything by comparison, and remarking in these beings a spontaneous movement like his own, he supposed this movement directed by a will,–an intelligence of the nature of his own; and hence, by induction, he formed a new reasoning. Having experienced that certain practices towards his fellow creatures had the effect to modify their affections and direct their conduct to his advantage, he resorted to the same practices towards these powerful beings of the universe. He reasoned thus with himself: When my fellow creature, stronger than I, is disposed to do me injury, I abase myself before him, and my prayer has the art to calm him. I will pray to these powerful beings who strike me. I will supplicate the intelligences of the winds, of the stars, of the waters, and they will hear me. I will conjure them to avert the evil and give me the good that is at their disposal; I will move them by my tears, I will soften them by offerings, and I shall be happy.

“Thus simple man, in the infancy of his reason, spoke to the sun and to the moon; he animated with his own understanding and passions the great agents of nature; he thought by vain sounds, and vain actions, to change their inflexible laws. Fatal error! He prayed the stone to ascend, the water to mount above its level, the mountains to remove, and substituting a fantastical world for the real one, he peopled it with imaginary beings, to the terror of his mind and the torment of his race.

In this manner the ideas of God and religion have sprung, like all others, from physical objects; they were produced in the mind of man from his sensations, from his wants, from the circumstances of his life, and the progressive state of his knowledge.

“Now, as the ideas of God had their first models in physical agents, it followed that God was at first varied and manifold, like the form under which he appeared to act. Every being was a Power, a Genius; and the first men conceived the universe filled with innumerable gods.

“Again the ideas of God have been created by the affections of the human heart; they became necessarily divided into two classes, according to the sensations of pleasure or pain, love or hatred, which they inspired.

“The forces of nature, the gods and genii, were divided into beneficent and malignant, good and evil powers; and hence the universality of these two characters in all the systems of religion.

“These ideas, analogous to the condition of their inventors, were for a long time confused and ill-digested. Savage men, wandering in the woods, beset with wants and destitute of resources, had not the leisure to combine principles and draw conclusions; affected with more evils than they found pleasures, their most habitual sentiment was that of fear, their theology terror; their worship was confined to a few salutations and offerings to beings whom they conceived as greedy and ferocious as themselves. In their state of equality and independence, no man offered himself as mediator between men and gods as insubordinate and poor as himself. No one having superfluities to give, there existed no parasite by the name of priest, no tribute by the name of victim, no empire by the name of altar. Their dogmas and their morals were the same thing, it was only self-preservation; and religion, that arbitrary idea, without influence on the mutual relations of men, was a vain homage rendered to the visible powers of nature.

“Such was the necessary and original idea of God.”

It clearly results, says Plutarch, from the verses of Orpheus and the sacred books of the Egyptians and Phrygians, that the ancient theology, not only of the Greeks, but of all nations, was nothing more than a system of physics, a picture of the operations of nature, wrapped up in mysterious allegories and enigmatical symbols, in a manner that the ignorant multitude attended rather to their apparent than to their hidden meaning, and even in what they understood of the latter, supposed there to be something more deep than what they perceived. Fragment of a work of Plutarch now lost, quoted by Eusebius, Proepar. Evang. lib. 3, ch. 1, p. 83.

The majority of philosophers, says Porphyry, and among others Haeremon (who lived in Egypt in the first age of Christianity), imagine there never to have been any other world than the one we see, and acknowledged no other Gods of all those recognized by the Egyptians, than such as are commonly called planets, signs of the Zodiac, and constellations; whose aspects, that is, rising and setting, are supposed to influence the fortunes of men; to which they add their divisions of the signs into decans and dispensers of time, whom they style lords of the ascendant, whose names, virtues in relieving distempers, rising, setting, and presages of future events, are the subjects of almanacs (for be it observed, that the Egyptian priests had almanacs the exact counterpart of Matthew Lansberg’s); for when the priests affirmed that the sun was the architect of the universe, Chaeremon presently concludes that all their narratives respecting Isis and Osiris, together with their other sacred fables, referred in part to the planets, the phases of the moon, and the revolution of the sun, and in part to the stars of the daily and nightly hemispheres and the river Nile; in a word, in all cases to physical and natural existences and never to such as might be immaterial and incorporeal. . . .

All these philosophers believe that the acts of our will and the motion of our bodies depend on those of the stars to which they are subjected, and they refer every thing to the laws of physical necessity, which they call destiny or Fatum, supposing a chain of causes and effects which binds, by I know not what connection, all beings together, from the meanest atom to the supremest power and primary influence of the Gods; so that, whether in their temples or in their idols, the only subject of worship is the power of destiny. Porphyr. Epist. ad Janebonem.

II. Second system: Worship of the Stars, or Sabeism.

“But those same monuments present us likewise a system more methodical and more complicated–that of the worship of all the stars; adored sometimes in their proper forms, sometimes under figurative emblems and symbols; and this worship was the effect of the knowledge men had acquired in physics, and was derived immediately from the first causes of the social state; that is, from the necessities and arts of the first degree, which are among the elements of society.

“Indeed, as soon as men began to unite in society, it became necessary for them to multiply the means of subsistence, and consequently to attend to agriculture: agriculture, to be carried on with success, requires the observation and knowledge of the heavens. It was necessary to know the periodical return of the same operations of nature, and the same phenomena in the skies; indeed to go so far as to ascertain the duration and succession of the seasons and the months of the year. It was indispensable to know, in the first place, the course of the sun, who, in his zodiacal revolution, shows himself the supreme agent of the whole creation; then, of the moon, who, by her phases and periods, regulates and distributes time; then, of the stars, and even of the planets, which by their appearance and disappearance on the horizon and nocturnal hemisphere, marked the minutest divisions. Finally, it was necessary to form a whole system of astronomy,* or a calendar; and from these works there naturally followed a new manner of considering these predominant and governing powers. Having observed that the productions of the earth had a regular and constant relation with the heavenly bodies; that the rise, growth, and decline of each plant kept pace with the appearance, elevation, and declination of the same star or the same group of stars; in short, that the languor or activity of vegetation seemed to depend on celestial influences, men drew from thence an idea of action, of power, in those beings, superior to earthly bodies; and the stars, dispensing plenty or scarcity, became powers, genii,** gods, authors of good and evil.

* It continues to be repeated every day, on the indirect authority of the book of Genesis, that astronomy was the invention of the children of Noah. It has been gravely said, that while wandering shepherds in the plains of Shinar, they employed their leisure in composing a planetary system: as if shepherds had occasion to know more than the polar star; and if necessity was not the sole motive of every invention! If the ancient shepherds were so studious and sagacious, how does it happen that the modern ones are so stupid, ignorant, and inattentive? And it is a fact that the Arabs of the desert know not so many as six constellations, and understand not a word of astronomy.

** It appears that by the word genius, the ancients denoted a quality, a generative power; for the following words, which are all of one family, convey this meaning: generare, genos, genesis, genus, gens.

“As the state of society had already introduced a regular hierarchy of ranks, employments and conditions, men, continuing to reason by comparison, carried their new notions into their theology, and formed a complicated system of divinities by gradation of rank, in which the sun, as first god,* was a military chief or a political king: the moon was his wife and queen; the planets were servants, bearers of commands, messengers; and the multitude of stars were a nation, an army of heroes, genii, whose office was to govern the world under the orders of their chiefs. All the individuals had names, functions, attributes, drawn from their relations and influences; and even sexes, from the gender of their appellations.**

* The Sabeans, ancient and modern, says Maimonides, acknowledge a principal God, the maker and inhabitant of heaven; but on account of his great distance they conceive him to be inaccessible; and in imitation of the conduct of people towards their kings, they employ as mediators with him, the planets and their angels, whom they call princes and potentates, and whom they suppose to reside in those luminous bodies as in palaces or tabernacles, etc. More-Nebuchim.

** According as the gender of the object was in the language of the nation masculine or feminine, the Divinity who bore its name was male or female. Thus the Cappadocians called the moon God, and the sun Goddess: a circumstance which gives to the same beings a perpetual variety in ancient mythology.

“And as the social state had introduced certain usages and ceremonies, religion, keeping pace with the social state, adopted similar ones; these ceremonies, at first simple and private, became public and solemn; the offerings became rich and more numerous, and the rites more methodical; they assigned certain places for the assemblies, and began to have chapels and temples; they instituted officers to administer them, and these became priests and pontiffs: they established liturgies, and sanctified certain days, and religion became a civil act, a political tie.

“But in this arrangement, religion did not change its first principles; the idea of God was always that of physical beings, operating good or evil, that is, impressing sensations of pleasure or pain: the dogma was the knowledge of their laws, or their manner of acting; virtue and sin, the observance or infraction of these laws; and morality, in its native simplicity, was the judicious practice of whatever contributes to the preservation of existence, the well-being of one’s self and his fellow creatures.*

* We may add, says Plutarch, that these Egyptian priests always regarded the preservation of health as a point of the first importance, and as indispensably necessary to the practice of piety and the service of the gods. See his account of Isis and Osiris, towards the end.

“Should it be asked at what epoch this system took its birth, we shall answer on the testimony of the monuments of astronomy itself; that its principles appear with certainty to have been established about seventeen thousand years ago,* and if it be asked to what people it is to be attributed, we shall answer that the same monuments, supported by unanimous traditions, attribute it to the first tribes of Egypt; and when reason finds in that country all the circumstances which could lead to such a system; when it finds there a zone of sky, bordering on the tropic, equally free from the rains of the equator and the fogs of the North;** when it finds there a central point of the sphere of the ancients, a salubrious climate, a great, but manageable river, a soil fertile without art or labor, inundated without morbid exhalations, and placed between two seas which communicate with the richest countries, it conceives that the inhabitant of the Nile, addicted to agriculture from the nature of his soil, to geometry from the annual necessity of measuring his lands, to commerce from the facility of communications, to astronomy from the state of his sky, always open to observation, must have been the first to pass from the savage to the social state; and consequently to attain the physical and moral sciences necessary to civilized life.

* The historical orator follows here the opinion of M. Dupuis, who, in his learned memoirs concerning the Origin of the Constellations and Origin of all Worship, has assigned many plausible reasons to prove that Libra was formerly the sign of the vernal, and Aries of the autumnal equinox; that is, that since the origin of the actual astronomical system, the precession of the equinoxes has carried forward by seven signs the primitive order of the zodiac. Now estimating the precession at about seventy years and a half to a degree, that is, 2,115 years to each sign; and observing that Aries was in its fifteenth degree, 1,447 years before Christ, it follows that the first degree of Libra could not have coincided with the vernal equinox more lately than 15,194 years before Christ; now, if you add 1790 years since Christ, it appears that 16,984 years have elapsed since the origin of the Zodiac. The vernal equinox coincided with the first degree of Aries, 2,504 years before Christ, and with the first degree of Taurus 4,619 years before Christ. Now it is to be observed, that the worship of the Bull is the principal article in the theological creed of the Egyptians, Persians, Japanese, etc.; from whence it clearly follows, that some general revolution took place among these nations at that time. The chronology of five or six thousand years in Genesis is little agreeable to this hypothesis; but as the book of Genesis cannot claim to be considered as a history farther back than Abraham, we are at liberty to make what arrangements we please in the eternity that preceded. See on this subject the analysis of Genesis, in the first volume of New Researches on Ancient History; see also Origin of Constellatians, by Dupuis, 1781; the Origin of Worship, in 3 vols. 1794, and the Chronological Zodiac, 1806.

** M. Balli, in placing the first astronomers at Selingenakoy, near the Bailkal paid no attention to this twofold circumstance: it equally argues against their being placed at Axoum on account of the rains, and the Zimb fly of which Mr. Bruce speaks.

“It was, then, on the borders of the upper Nile, among a black race of men, that was organized the complicated system of the worship of the stars, considered in relation to the productions of the earth and the labors of agriculture; and this first worship, characterized by their adoration under their own forms and natural attributes, was a simple proceeding of the human mind. But in a short time, the multiplicity of the objects of their relations, and their reciprocal influence, having complicated the ideas, and the signs that represented them, there followed a confusion as singular in its cause as pernicious in its effects.

III. Third system. Worship of Symbols, or Idolatry.
“As soon as this agricultural people began to observe the stars with attention, they found it necessary to individualize or group them; and to assign to each a proper name, in order to understand each other in their designation. A great difficulty must have presented itself in this business: First, the heavenly bodies, similar in form, offered no distinguishing characteristics by which to denominate them; and, secondly, the language in its infancy and poverty, had no expressions for so many new and metaphysical ideas. Necessity, the usual stimulus of genius, surmounted everything. Having remarked that in the annual revolution, the renewal and periodical appearance of terrestrial productions were constantly associated with the rising and setting of certain stars, and to their position as relative to the sun, the fundamental term of all comparison, the mind by a natural operation connected in thought these terrestrial and celestial objects, which were connected in fact; and applying to them a common sign, it gave to the stars, and their groups, the names of the terrestrial objects to which they answered.*
* “The ancients,” says Maimonides, “directing all their attention to agriculture, gave names to the stars derived from their occupation during the year.” More Neb. pars 3.

“Thus the Ethopian of Thebes named stars of inundation, or Aquarius, those stars under which the Nile began to overflow;* stars of the ox or the bull, those under which they began to plow; stars of the lion, those under which that animal, driven from the desert by thirst, appeared on the banks of the Nile; stars of the sheaf, or of the harvest virgin, those of the reaping season; stars of the lamb, stars of the two kids, those under which these precious animals were brought forth: and thus was resolved the first part of the difficulty.
* This must have been June.

“Moreover, man having remarked in the beings which surrounded him certain qualities distinctive and proper to each species, and having thence derived a name by which to designate them, he found in the same source an ingenious mode of generalizing his ideas; and transferring the name already invented to every thing which bore any resemblance or analogy, he enriched his language with a perpetual round of metaphors.

“Thus the same Ethiopian having observed that the return of the inundation always corresponded with the rising of a beautiful star which appeared towards the source of the Nile, and seemed to warn the husbandman against the coming waters, he compared this action to that of the animal who, by his barking, gives notice of danger, and he called this star the dog, the barker (Sirius). In the same manner he named the stars of the crab, those where the sun, having arrived at the tropic, retreated by a slow retrograde motion like the crab or cancer. He named stars of the wild goat, or Capricorn, those where the sun, having reached the highest point in his annuary tract, rests at the summit of the horary gnomon, and imitates the goat, who delights to climb the summit of the rocks. He named stars of the balance, or libra, those where the days and nights, being equal, seemed in equilibrium, like that instrument; and stars of the scorpion, those where certain periodical winds bring vapors, burning like the venom of the scorpion. In the same manner he called by the name of rings and serpents the figured traces of the orbits of the stars and the planets, and such was the general mode of naming all the stars and even the planets, taken by groups or as individuals, according to their relations with husbandry and terrestrial objects, and according to the analogies which each nation found between them and the objects of its particular soil and climate.*
* The ancients had verbs from the substantives crab, goat, tortoise, as the French have at present the verbs serpenter, coquetter. The history of all languages is nearly the same.
“From this it appeared that abject and terrestrial beings became associated with the superior and powerful inhabitants of heaven; and this association became stronger every day by the mechanism of language and the constitution of the human mind. Men would say by a natural metaphor: The bull spreads over the earth the germs of fecundity (in spring) he restores vegetation and plenty: the lamb (or ram) delivers the skies from the maleficent powers of winter; he saves the world from the serpent (emblem of the humid season) and restores the empire of goodness (summer, joyful season): the scorpion pours out his poison on the earth, and scatters diseases and death. The same of all similar effects.
“This language, understood by every one, was attended at first with no inconvenience; but in the course of time, when the calendar had been regulated, the people, who had no longer any need of observing the heavens, lost sight of the original meaning of these expressions; and the allegories remaining in common use became a fatal stumbling block to the understanding and to reason. Habituated to associate to the symbols the ideas of their archetypes, the mind at last confounded them: then the same animals, whom fancy had transported to the skies, returned again to the earth; but being thus returned, clothed in the livery of the stars, they claimed the stellary attributes, and imposed on their own authors. Then it was that the people, believing that they saw their gods among them, could pray to them with more convenience: they demanded from the ram of their flock the influences which might be expected from the heavenly ram; they prayed the scorpion not to pour out his venom upon nature; they revered the crab of the sea, the scarabeus of the mud, the fish of the river; and by a series of corrupt but inseparable analogies, they lost themselves in a labyrinth of well connected absurdities.
“Such was the origin of that ancient whimsical worship of the animals; such is the train of ideas by which the character of the divinity became common to the vilest of brutes, and by which was formed that theological system, extremely comprehensive, complicated, and learned, which, rising on the borders of the Nile, propagated from country to country by commerce, war, and conquest, overspread the whole of the ancient world; and which, modified by time, circumstances and prejudices, is still seen entire among a hundred nations, and remains as the essential and secret basis of the theology of those even who despise and reject it.”
Some murmurs at these words being heard from various groups: “Yes!” continued the orator, “hence arose, for instance, among you, nations of Africa, the adoration of your fetiches, plants, animals, pebbles, pieces of wood, before which your ancestors would not have had the folly to bow, if they had not seen in them talismans endowed with the virtue of the stars.*

* The ancient astrologers, says the most learned of the Jews (Maimonides), having sacredly assigned to each planet a color, an animal, a tree, a metal, a fruit, a plant, formed from them all a figure or representation of the star, taking care to select for the purpose a proper moment, a fortunate day, such as the conjunction of the star, or some other favorable aspect. They conceived that by their magic ceremonies they could introduce into those figures or idols the influences of the superior beings after which they were modeled. These were the idols that the Chaldean-Sabeans adored; and in the performance of their worship they were obliged to be dressed in the proper color. The astrologers, by their practices, thus introduced idolatry, desirous of being regarded as the dispensers of the favors of heaven; and as agriculture was the sole employment of the ancients, they succeeded in persuading them that the rain and other blessings of the seasons were at their disposal. Thus the whole art of agriculture was exercised by rules of astrology, and the priests made talismans or charms which were to drive away locusts, flies, etc. See Maimonides, More Nebuchim, pars 3, c. 29.

“Finally, a third cause of confusion was the civil organization of ancient states. When the people began to apply themselves to agriculture, the formation of a rural calendar, requiring a continued series of astronomical observations, it became necessary to appoint certain individuals charged with the functions of watching the appearance and disappearance of certain stars, to foretell the return of the inundation, of certain winds, of the rainy season, the proper time to sow every kind of grain. These men, on account of their service, were exempt from common labor, and the society provided for their maintenance. With this provision, and wholly employed in their observations, they soon became acquainted with the great phenomena of nature, and even learned to penetrate the secret of many of her operations. They discovered the movement of the stars and planets, the coincidence of their phases and returns with the productions of the earth and the action of vegetation; the medicinal and nutritive properties of plants and fruits; the action of the elements, and their reciprocal affinities. Now, as there was no other method of communicating the knowledge of these discoveries but the laborious one of oral instruction, they transmitted it only to their relations and friends, it followed therefore that all science and instruction were confined to a few families, who, arrogating it to themselves as an exclusive privilege, assumed a professional distinction, a corporation spirit, fatal to the public welfare. This continued succession of the same researches and the same labors, hastened, it is true, the progress of knowledge; but by the mystery which accompanied it, the people were daily plunged in deeper shades, and became more superstitious and more enslaved. Seeing their fellow mortals produce certain phenomena, announce, as at pleasure, eclipses and comets, heal diseases, and handle venomous serpents, they thought them in alliance with celestial powers; and, to obtain the blessings and avert the evils which they expected from above, they took them for mediators and interpreters; and thus became established in the bosom of every state sacrilegious corporations of hypocritical and deceitful men, who centered all powers in themselves; and the priests, being at once astronomers, theologians, naturalists, physicians, magicians, interpreters of the gods, oracles of men, and rivals of kings, or their accomplices, established, under the name of religion, an empire of mystery and a monopoly of instruction, which to this day have ruined every nation. . . .”

“On the other hand, the astrological and geological priests told such stories and made such descriptions of their heavens, as accorded perfectly well with these fictions. Having, in their metaphorical language, called the equinoxes and solstices the gates of heaven, the entrance of the seasons, they explained these terrestrial phenomena by saying, that through the gate of horn (first the bull, afterwards the ram) and through the gate of Cancer, descended the vivifying fires which give life to vegetation in the spring, and the aqueous spirits which bring, at the solstice, the inundation of the Nile; that through the gate of ivory (Libra, formerly Sagittarius, or the bowman) and that of Capricorn, or the urn, the emanations or influences of the heavens returned to their source, and reascended to their origin; and the Milky Way, which passed through the gates of the solstices, seemed to be placed there to serve them as a road or vehicle.* Besides, in their atlas, the celestial scene presented a river (the Nile, designated by the windings of the hydra), a boat, (the ship Argo) and the dog Sirius, both relative to this river, whose inundation they foretold. These circumstances, added to the preceding, and still further explaining them, increased their probability, and to arrive at Tartarus or Elysium, souls were obliged to cross the rivers Styx and Acheron in the boat of the ferryman Charon, and to pass through the gates of horn or ivory, guarded by the dog Cerberus. Finally, these inventions were applied to a civil use, and thence received a further consistency.

Written by Tseday

September 14, 2008 at 4:53 pm