Here's the Turkish a non-Arab, Middle Eastern people football team for comparison. For their part, most Egyptians define themselves as Arabs. But does any of this matter? After all, the ancient Egyptians didn't speak Arabic; they spoke their own language, attested in hieroglyphics. Well yes, they did, although Coptic spoken by some Egyptian Christians is actually a descendant of that language so that's not a particularly strong argument.
Coptic and Arabic are also both Afro-Asiatic languages along with Hebrew, the Berber languages, Amhara, and Hausa , so it's not as if the languages are completely unrelated. But what about how Egypt got invaded and conquered by a whole bunch of people, including the Arabs? Couldn't that have impacted the Egyptians' race? Well sure, that happened. Libyans, Nubians, Canaanites, Mesopotamians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans have all ruled Egypt at one point or another and the Arabs are the most recent bunch not counting the Turks or the British.
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But the truth is that conquest only very rarely leads to a massive shift in the native population; the conquest of the Americas aside which was aided very significantly by the natives' vulnerability to Afro-Eurasian diseases , the genetic makeup of a country's populace before and after conquest is usually pretty similar, to a point that it's almost not worth talking about. There's also the fact that ancient Egyptians didn't really perceive themselves as either "black" or "white.
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The top right group, with the palest skin are Libyans Berbers , the next one over to the left are Nubians, followed by "Asiatics" Mesopotamians. The bottom central group are Egyptians. By their own perception Egyptians were neither particularly dark nor particularly pale, and given their xenophobic attitude towards outside cultures which was fairly common for most ancient peoples they would probably resent being sorted into either "race.
So why does this matter? Why is it important that we acknowledge the Egyptians don't fit into our constructed dichotomy of black vs. Well, for one thing many modern Egyptians find it kind of offensive. Despite their modern self-identification as Arabs, most Egyptians still feel a strong claim to the historical legacy of their ancient forebears and find it pretty annoying when American scholars and, black or white, it is mostly Americans try to pigeonhole the pharaohs into one racial category or another for political purposes.
Secondly, it's pretty clearly false as I've shown above. The ancient Egyptians were African, but that's a pretty broad label, just like the word "Asian" includes within its meaning Turks, Indians, Samoyeds, Han Chinese, and Malays. There's a lot of similarity between Egyptians and Nubians, that's true. There's also a lot of resemblance between Egyptians and Palestinians. They don't fit neatly into one super-category or the other, not when you peel away the labels and look at the actual facts. It's also, when you get right down it, kind of imperialistic.
Remember, separating people into groups like "white" and "black" or "colored" were ways for European colonialists to determine what rights certain people were entitled to and more importantly, which people to deny rights to. Whether intentionally or not, the continuance of these categories, even by non-racists, continues to embody this. By separating people around the world into either white Europeans or dark-skinned people we're implicitly saying that the differences within the latter group are equivalent to the differences within the former group.
And that's incredibly reductive. There's a world of difference between the ancient Egyptians and the Chinese, as big as the difference between China and the ancient Celts.
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Pyramid-building aside which is a fairly shallow similarity , the cultures of ancient Mesoamerica and ancient Egypt are pretty distinct. The Mauryan Empire is not the same as the Songhai Empire, nor is it any closer in similarity to it than it is to ancient Greece.
Instead of celebrating diversity, Afrocentric perspectives on ancient history suppress it despite their good intentions. Now, that isn't to say there isn't any value in talking about "people of color" as one group. There is; with the exception of just one country Thailand , every nation in the world has been under European domination at some point during the last two centuries.
Only one non-European country Japan has been a colonial power in modern times. And with the exception of a handful of countries like Japan again or China which per capita is still quite poor , the vast majority of the world's wealth is concentrated in European nations or countries dominated by the descendants European colonists. So in some sense, it's perfectly reasonable to talk about "people of color" as a byword for ethnic minorities and majorities who continue to be oppressed in a number of individual and systematic ways throughout the world. But it's not a historically accurate term and it's important to recognize its limitations.
While it's an incredibly useful way to talk about race relations and power in modern society, it has virtually no meaning when we're talking about ancient cultures, who didn't exist in the same Western-dominated world that we now do. Besides, shouldn't we really move on from ancient Egypt? There's plenty of other ancient societies to obsess over. What about Mesopotamia?
Or the Indus Valley civilization? How about the Kingdoms of Kush or Aksum?
Ancient China? The Maya? The belief that statues had a life force was so widespread that it spurred antagonists to extinguish that force when the need arose. For example, people taking apart, repurposing, robbing or desecrating temples, tombs and other sacred sites would have likely believed that statues had life forces that could in some way harm intruders.ecilalep.cf
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People would even believe this about hieroglyphs or other images of animals or people. However, sometimes adversaries didn't stop at just the nose. Some also smashed or damaged the face, arms and legs to deactivate the life force , Oppenheim said. There are likely some instances in which statues naturally tipped over, and a protruding nose broke as a result. Erosion from the elements, such as wind and rain, also likely wore down some statues' noses. But you can usually tell if a nose was destroyed intentionally by looking at cut marks on the statue, Oppenheim said.
For people looking to learn more, there's an exhibit at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis that explores how both pharaohs and early Christians vandalized Egyptian statues so that they could "kill" any life force within the representations. The exhibit, organized in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum, runs through Aug.
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