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Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

 

peopling of the nile valley
A survey of mainstream academic sources
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The Nile Valley is dominated by the longest river in the world, and  is home to a large variety of peoples and cultures, who vary widely in skin color, facial shape and other indices. Below is a survey of the peopling and origins of various Nile Valley populations, including scholarly anthropological and archaeological views on their origins, similarities, differences, and related movements. A variety of factors are involved in studying the origins of the Nilotic or Nile Valley peoples, including geographic, genetic, and environmental data. Many contemporary mainstream anthropologists now take a more complex view of the Valley, placing Egypt in its African context as opposed to minimizing it, a common approach in past scholarship. A 1999 Physical Anthropology article in 'Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt' for example holds: [1]  

"There is now a sufficient body of evidence from modern studies of skeletal remains to indicate that the ancient Egyptians, especially southern Egyptians, exhibited physical characteristics that are within the range of variation for ancient and modern indigenous peoples of the Sahara and tropical Africa.. In general, the inhabitants of Upper Egypt and Nubia had the greatest biological affinity to people of the Sahara and more southerly areas." (Nancy C. Lovell, " Egyptians, physical anthropology of," in Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, ed. Kathryn A. Bard and Steven Blake Shubert, ( London and New York: Routledge, 1999) pp 328-332)

 

Much of modern Egyptology also reflects this placement of Egypt in the African context. As one archaeological text suggests, interpretations of the biological affinities and origins of the ancient Nile Valley peoples like the Egyptians:

 "must be placed in the context of hypotheses informed by archaeological, linguistic, geographic and other data. In such contexts, the physical anthropological evidence indicates that early Nile Valley populations can be identified as part of an African lineage, but exhibiting local variation. This variation represents the short and long term effects of evolutionary forces, such as gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection, influenced by culture and geography." ("Nancy C. Lovell, " Egyptians, physical anthropology of," in Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, ed. Kathryn A. Bard and Steven Blake Shubert, ( London and New York: Routledge, 1999). pp 328-332)[2]

 

Methodology is an important concern in the field. A number of research issues are shown below, along with a survey of populations in the Valley:

Issues in skeletal and cranial 
research
Issues in DNA research
  • Inaccuracy in computer models used in analysis
  • Use of stereotypical models in splitting and grouping cranial data
  • Ignoring local variability within populations on such indices as nasal measurements
  • Skewed cranial databases and sampling biases concentrated on the far north of Egypt, excluding important areas of southern (Upper) Egypt
  • Race' as a factor in differentiating human populations occurs in very low proportions calling into question its usefulness re Nile Valley peoples
  • Use of stereotypical "true" negro types to represent African genetic diversity
  • Contradictory results from DNA racial studies
  • Use of limited samples as "representative" of "Africans" versus use of broad data ranges to represent Europeanized populations
  • Pre-sorting and lumping of samples into racial categories before beginning DNA analysis thus skewing final results
  • Limited applicability of DNA racial analysis in dicing up closely related population
  • Exclusion of African data that does not meet pre-determined racial models
  • Use of misleading labeling such as "Oriental" or "Near Eastern" rather than taking DNA data in local context
  • Sampling bias- commonly using samples from northern Egypt, which as had more foreign influx from the Mediterranean and Near East as 'representative' of all Egyptians
  • Inconsistent methodology and failure to look at broader more complex models of population genesis

 

Contents

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Historical approaches to the complexity of the Nile Valley populations

Aryan models and Dynastic Race theories

 Many mainstream references allude to the racial complexity of North Africa and the Nile Valley, going back to pre-dynastic times. Thesemplexities do not yield easily to modern racial controversies or catch-all terminologies like "Mediterranean," or "Middle Eastern." Earlier histories of Egyptian people as recently as the 1970s classified them as Caucasoid or "Hamites" who migrated to the Nile Valley, transmitting light and civilization to slower-witted negro tribes. (Wyatt MacGaffey, 'Concepts of race in the historiography of northeast Africa', Journal of African History)[3]. This "Aryan" or "Hamitic" model is captured in scholar C. G. Seligman's influential "Races of Africa":

"Apart from relatively late Semitic influence . . . the civilizations of Africa are the civilizations of the Hamites, its history the record of these peoples and of their interaction with the two other African stocks, the Negro and the Bushman, whether this influence was exerted by highly civilized Egyptians or by such wider pastoralists as are represented at the present day by the Beja and Somali . . . The incoming Hamites were pastoral 'Europeans'--arriving wave after wave--better armed as well as quicker witted than the dark agricultural Negroes."[4]

Confusion, contradiction and exclusion in the theories of Egyptologists

A great deal of inconsistency and contradiction has also clouded the work of Egyptologists. As noted in one detailed 1967 study by archaeologists Berry and Ucko (Genetical Change in Ancient Egypt):

"This is attested by the tendency in the past (summarised by Chantre 1904) to postulate all sorts of improbable racial amalgams in Egypt: mixtures of peoples representing a singular variety of groups (viz. Libyan, Caucasian, Arab, Pelasgian, Negro, Bushman, Mongol, Hamitic, Hamito-Semitic- even Red Indian and Australian aboriginal) were alleged to have migrated into the Nile Valley." . Indeed Keith (1905:92) complained that the literature at that time included hopeless contradictions of three, six, one and two races."[5]  

Later work was sometimes marked by the same pattern with even Cro-Magnons being thrown into the mix.[6] Berry and Ucko also note most Egyptologists in earlier years "are at pains to disclaim any Negro element in the Egyptian populations after the predynastic period except for the population of Sudanese Kerma.." while producing shifting definitions of exactly what 'negroid' was.

".. the basic weakness of all claims to distinguish or decry Negro elements on the basis of metrical analyses is the absence of any rigorous population comparisons to isolate particular featurers which can be described as negroid. It is typical of this unsatisfactory situation that F.P [Petrie] 1928:68) although basing himself entirely on the original Stoessiger report, could sumarise the Badarian skull material in terms which denied any serious Negro element."[7]
Disclaiming any hint of negroid presence, Petrie held that the ancient Egyptian skulls in question were of Indian origin, some thousands of miles distant, versus the surrounding area, or those further south, which were within a few hundred.[8]

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Newer approaches: The Egyptians as simply another Nile Valley population

A number of current mainstream scholars such as Bruce Trigger, and Frank Yurco eschew a racial approach, asserting that the previous archaeological and anthropological approaches were 'marred by a confusion of race, language, and culture and by an accompanying racism'. [9] As to racial affinities of the people of northeast Africa, Yurco declares that all the peoples of the region are indigenous Africans and that arbitrary divisions into Negroid and Caucasoid stocks is misguided and misleading. To Yurco, the indigenous stocks are part of a continuum of physical variation in the Nile Valley. Just as Europeans are noted to vary between tall blonde Swedes, and shorter, darker Portuguese, or Basques with strikingly different blood types, so the Nile Valley populations are simply allowed similar variation. Other mainstream scholars such as Shomarka Keita applaud Trigger's and Yurco's approach but note the continued use of terms such as "Mediterranean" to incorporate the ancient Egyptians, and the continued use of classification schemes that screen out or deemphasize variability, and the rich diversity of the African people. As one mainstream anthropologist puts it:

"The living peoples of the African continent are diverse in facial characteristics, stature, skin color, hair form, genetics, and other characteristics. No one set of characteristics is more African than another. Variability is also found in "sub-Saharan" Africa, to which the word "Africa" is sometimes erroneously restricted. There is a problem with definitions. Sometimes Africa is defined using cultural factors, like language, that exclude developments that clearly arose in Africa. For example, sometimes even the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea) is excluded because of geography and language and the fact that some of its peoples have narrow noses and faces. 

However, the Horn is at the same latitude as Nigeria, and its languages are African. The latitude of 15 degree passes through Timbuktu, surely in "sub-Saharan Africa," as well as Khartoum in Sudan; both are north of the Horn. Another false idea is that supra-Saharan and Saharan Africa were peopled after the emergence of "Europeans" or Near Easterners by populations coming from outside Africa. Hence, the ancient Egyptians in some writings have been de-Africanized. These ideas, which limit the definition of Africa and Africans, are rooted in racism and earlier, erroneous "scientific" approaches." (S.  Keita, "The Diversity of Indigenous Africans," in Egypt in Africa, Theodore Clenko, Editor (1996), pp. 104-105. [10])

 The general Egyptology consensus is captured in the words of mainstream scholar Frank Yurco:

"Certainly there was some foreign admixture [in Egypt], but basically a homogeneous African population had lived in the Nile Valley from ancient to modern times... [the] Badarian people, who developed the earliest Predynastic Egyptian culture, already exhibited the mix of North African and Sub-Saharan physical traits that have typified Egyptians ever since (Hassan 1985; Yurco 1989; Trigger 1978; Keita 1990.. et al.,)...  The peoples of Egypt, the Sudan, and much of East African Ethiopia and Somalia are now generally regarded as a Nilotic continuity, with widely ranging physical features (complexions light to dark, various hair and craniofacial types) but with powerful common cultural traits, including cattle pastoralist traditions. (Trigger 1978; Bard, Snowden, this volume).(F. Yurco "An Egyptological Review," 1996)[11]



Egyptians cluster closer to other nearby African populations than to Europeans or Middle Easterners

Several recent mainstream anthropology studies support the close relationship of the Nile valley peoples. This research rejects sensationalist theories that the ancients were of Indian, Australian, Greek, or Nordic stock, or nationalist theories that they are identical to Arabs, West African Bantu or Syrians. Instead they are most closely related to other Nile Valley and East African peoples- Somalis, northern Sudanics, and Ethiopians. This recent research confirms Frank Yurco's statement as to "one Nilotic continuity." For example, a 2005 study by Afrocentric critic C. Loring Brace groups ancient Egyptian populations like the Naqada closer to Nubians and Somalis than European, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern populations. (Brace, et al. 2005). [11a] Other craniometric studies confirm this finding. A 2003 study by Hanihara places the ancient Egyptians (Naqada/Gizeh) closer to Nubians (Kerma), and Somalians closer to other East African populations like Kenyans than to European or Middle eastern populations. (Hanihara 2003) Hanihara (1996) also shows that early West Asians (from what is today's "Middle East") resembled Africans.(Hanihara T., "Comparison of craniofacial features of major human groups," Am J Phys Anthropol. 1996 Mar;99(3):389-412.) [11b]

Such studies are also consistent with metric analyses placing ancient Upper Egyptian populations like the Badari closer to populations in tropical Africa than to Mediterraneans, or Middle Easterners.[11c] Dental studies note the close relationship between ancient peoples of the Badari and Naqada cultures, and suggest that they continued on into the Dynastic period, with Egyptian samples being more closely related to North Africa than to Europe or the Middle East.[11d]  DNA research on historical Nile Valley gene flow suggests close relationships and continuity between the Nubian and Egyptian populations, with greater south- north gene flow than north - south gene flow. (Krings 1999).[11e]  This south-north movement is consistent with the hegemony of the south and its conquest or absorption of the north, ushering in the period of the Egyptian dynasties. Other studies confirm both Brace and Hanihara's findings: 

"Overall, when the Egyptian crania are evaluated in a Near Eastern (Lachish) versus African (Kerma, Kebel Moya, Ashanti) context) the affinity is with the Africans. The Sudan and Palestine are the most appropriate comparative regions which would have 'donated' people, along with the Sahara and Maghreb. Archaeology validates looking to these regions for population flow (see Hassan 1988)... Egyptian groups showed less overall affinity to Palestinian and Byzantine remains than to other African series, especially Sudanese."[97a]

 

A 2005 study by Afrocentric critic C. Loring Brace groups ancient Egyptian populations like the Naqada closer to Nubians and Somalis than European, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern populations. Brace also shows that where Europeans appear to link with africans its OLDER Europeans that do so- mesolithics, Neolithics etc. These looked like africans because they derived from the Out Of Africa Migration(s) and thus retgianed some tropical characteristics before becoming tropically adapted over time. Its a comparison of dark-skinned people looking like Africans living in Europe, to dark-skinned Africans in Africa itself. (Brace, et al. The questionable contribution of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age to European craniofacial form, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 January 3; 103(1): p. 242-247.

An earlier 1993 study by Brace had placed Somalians closer to Upper Egyptian populations than to Europeans or Middle Easterners. Craniometric studies place ancient Upper Egyptian populations closer to populations in tropical Africa (the nearby Sudan) than to Mediterraneans, or Middle Easterners. (S.O.Y Keita, "Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa," American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 83:35-48 (1990)

 

A 2003 study by Hanihara places the ancient Egyptians (Naqada/Gizeh) closer to Nubians (Kerma), and Somalians closer to other East African populations like Kenyans than to European or Eurasian (Middle Eastern) populations. (Tsunehiko Hanihara, Am J Phys Anthropol. 2003 Jul ;121 (3): 241-51 "Characterization of biological diversity through analysis of discrete cranial traits." ) Recent limb proportion studies find the ancient Egyptians having "super negroid" body proportions, not cold-adapted proportions like Europeans. (Zakrzewski, S.R. (2003). "Variation in ancient Egyptian stature and body proportions". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121 (3): 219-229.) Other similar studies link the ancient Egyptians more closely with American Blacks than Northern Europeans, Southern Europeans or American Whites. (Raxter and Ruff, "Stature estimation in ancient Egyptians," 2008) See Trinkhaus (1981) for example, (Trinkhaus, E. (1981) "Neanderthal limb proportions and cold adaptation." p. 211) for comparisons to Europeans.


Some debates remain however as to the methodology used in classifying these ancient populations. These are addressed below.

Issues of methodology in skeletal, cranial and hair studies of ancient Nile Valley populations

General methodology issues

General methodological issues fall into five groups:

  • Inconsistent treatment of data on the Nile Valley peoples
  • Use of extreme types as "representative" of various peoples
  • Exclusion of data not meeting stereotypical ranges
  • Splitting of related populations
  • Labeling of populations in a manner that de-emphasizes their local context

Inconsistency. Some historians question why the same broad approach used with European populations is not also applied to Negroes who also show dolichocephaly, and also vary in other physical indices. They argue that a double standard is in play, and that the use of such terms as "Mediterranean" or "Middle Eastern" conveniently allow more skeletal remains from the Nile Valley to be essentially classified as Caucasoid, even incorporating Ethiopians, as in the Mediterranean race theories of Giuseppè Sergi. It is argued that the same line is drawn much more narrowly in defining "Negroid."[12] Variable human remains (such as the aquiline features of some Northeast African peoples, or the rounded foreheads of many African peoples) are thus assigned to Caucasoid groupings. These are interpreted as broadly and expansively as possible with a bearing on Egypt, covering the range of the Mediterranean zone from Portugal, to Morocco, to parts of Turkey. By contrast, the variation in "Negroids" is carefully defined in a much narrower sense as regards the Nile Valley. This inconsistent use of categories and definitions (broad Caucasian -- narrow Negro), it is held, downplays the Nilo-Saharan and Sudanic roots of the Egyptian gene pool. [13]

Use of stereotypical "true negro" types. Modern re-analyses of previous studies shows a clear tendency deny or minimize variability within the ancient Egyptian population.[14], As far as Negroid elements, this takes the form of establishing a baseline determination for a "true negro" (generally a sub-Saharan type) and anything not closely matching this extreme type is disregarded or incorporated into a Caucasoid or "Mediterranean" cluster. Conversely the same selective classification scheme is not applied to groups traditionally categorized as Caucasoid. Scholars such as Carelton Coons report "Mediterranean" remains that seem to have "Negroid" traits but do not mention the opposite, nor have scholars generally bothered to define a similarly stereotypical "true white."[15] According to one 2005 review:

"The assignment of skeletal racial origin is based principally upon stereotypical features found most frequently in the most geographically distant populations. While this is useful in some contexts (for example, sorting skeletal material of largely West African ancestry from skeletal material of largely Western European ancestry), it fails to identify populations that originate elsewhere and misrepresents fundamental patterns of human biological diversity."[16]

Exclusion of data not meeting stereotypical ranges. Older documentation shows researchers repeatedly excluding or minimizing certain skeletal remains in formulating approaches to the ancient Nile Valley people (See Berry and Ucko above) This pattern still occurs sometimes in contemporary analyses according to some scholars (Kittles and Keita 1997, Armelagos 2005, et. al. - see DNA section below). As regards older skeletal research for example:

"Nutter (1958), using the Penrose statistic, demonstrated that Nagada I and Badari crania, both regarded as Negroid, were almost identical and that these were most similar to the Negroid Nubian series from Kerma studied by Collett (1933). [Collett, not accepting variability, excluded "clear negro" crania found in the Kerma series from her analysis, as did Morant (1925), implying that they were foreign.].."[17]

Splitting of related Nile Valley groups. Some anthropologists maintain that these methods still continue with the use of more modern statistical aggregation techniques based on crania or on dental morphology. They include selective frontloading of measured indices to minimize variability, using the stereotypical "true" sub-Saharan type as a basis for comparison, separating out adjacent Nile Valley and Northeast African populations like Ethiopians and Somalians, and grouping all else not meeting the extreme sub-Saharan type into broad Caucasoid clusters, although such clustering may be given different names like "North African", "Middle Eastern" or "Southwest Asian". (The Persistence of Racial Thinking and the Myth of Racial Divergence, S. O. Y. Keita, Rick A. Kittles, 1997)[18]

Lumping under Mediterranean clusters and labels. Re-analyses of scholarship show a clear tendency to lump remains under broad clusters or categories such as Mediterranean. Numerous studies of Egyptian crania have been undertaken, with many showing a range of types, and workers often describing substantial Negroid remains. Often this type has been lumped into a Caucasoid cluster, typically using the term "Mediterranean." A majority of these studies show the strong influence of Sudanic and Saharan elements in the predynastic populations and yet classification systems often incorporate them into the Mediterranean grouping. (Vercoutter J (1978) The Peopling of ancient Egypt)[19] According to one re-analysis of metric skeletal data on the ancient Nile Valley peoples (S.O.Y Keita, "Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa,):

"Analyses of Egyptian crania are numerous. Vercoutter (1978) notes that ancient Egyptian crania have frequently all been "lumped (implicitly or explicitly) as Mediterranean, although Negroid remains are recorded in substantial numbers by many workers... The majority of the work describes a Negroid element, especially in the southern population and sometimes as predominating in the predynastic period (Falkenburger, 1947). Workers describing some tropical African morphological or morphometric affinities with southern predynastics and dynastics include Thompson and Randall-MacIver (1905), Thomson (19051, Giuffrida-Ruggeri (1915, 1916, Stoessiger (1927), Krogman (1937), Morant (1925,1935, 1937) (who described Upper and Lower Egyptian types without much emphasis on racial labeling), Nutter (19581, Strouhal (1968, 19711, and Angel (1972). Strouhal (1971) also analyzed hair in his study of 117 Badari crania, in which he concluded that >80% were Negroid; most of these were interpreted as being hybrids.."[20]


Hair studies. Kieta notes that while many scholars in the field have used an extreme "true negro" definition for African peoples, few have attempted to consistently apply the same model in reverse and define a "true white." Such an approach for example would define the straight hair in Strouhal's hair sample as an exclusive Caucasian marker (10 out of 49 or approximately 20%) and make the rest (wavy and curled) hybrid or negro, at >80%. Strouhal's 1971 study itself advances the most extreme definitions, claiming Nubians to be white Europids overrun by later waves of Negroes, and that few Negroes appeared in Egypt until the New Kingdom. (Eugen Strouhal, Evidence of early penetration of negroes in Egypt", The Journal of African History, Vol. 12, No. 1. (1971), pp. 1-9.) Such claims have been thoroughly debunked by modern scholarship. Attempts to define racial categories based on the ancient hair rely heavily on extreme definitions, with "negroids" typically being defined as narrowly as possible.

The use of hair in 'racial' analysis or race percentage categories is rendered problematic by such skewed and inconsistent models, and by other research in the area such as the limb proportion studies of Zakrzewski, cranio-metric surveys of Keita (2005) and Brace (2005), and the DNA research of Semino, Keita et al. (See DNA section). The presence of other influences, such as oxidation, bleaching, dyeing, Egyptian importing and trading for hair from elsewhere to make wigs, pheomelanin conditions allowing reddish hair in dark-haired populations, and the Egyptian practice of burying hair separately from their actual corpses also calls such methods into question. See the analysis here for more on hair studies.

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Issues of specific methodology and interpretation in Cranio-facial Anthropology

Cranial studies are used extensively in classifying and studying ancient Nile Valley population origins, relationships, and diversity. Methodological issues fall into four groups.

  • Inaccuracy in computer models used in analysis
  • Use of stereotypical models in splitting and grouping cranial data
  • Ignoring local variability within populations on such indices as nasal measurements
  • Skewed cranial databases that selectively exclude certain Nile Valley areas

Inaccuracy in computer models. The methodology used in statistical studies of skeletal data has also been challenged by some researchers, not only as to the manipulation of categories, but in the results obtained with computer programs such as Fordisc or CRANID commonly used by researchers to find matches between sets of data correlated with geographic origins or race. A test of one such program for example matched ancient Nubian samples with people as far afield as Hispanics, Japanese and Easter Islanders. Such programs and models critics hold, rely heavily on front-loading: starting with assumptions as to rigid, idealized 'true' types and thus misrepresenting fundamental patterns of human biological diversity. As one critical review of far-flung Nubian matches notes:

" If Fordisc 2.0 is revealing genetic admixture of Late Period Dynastic Egypt and Meroitic Nubia, then one must also consider these ancient Meroitic Nubians to be part of Hungarian, part Easter Islander, part Norse, and part Australian Aborigine, with smaller contributions from the Ainu, Teita, Zulu, Santa Cruz, Andaman Islands, Arikara, Ayatal, and Hokkaido populations. In fact, all human groups are essentially heterogeneous, including samples within Fordisc 2.0. Using Fst heritability tests, Relethford (1994) demonstrated that Howells’s cranial samples exhibit far more variation within than between skeletal series... This heterogeneity may also characterize the populations in the Forensic Data Bank.. (Frank l'engle Williams, Robert L. Belcher, and George J . Armelagos, "Forensic Misclassification of Ancient Nubian Crania: Implications for Assumptions about Human Variation," Current Anthropology, volume 46 (2005), pages 340-346)[21]

Use of stereotypical models in splitting and grouping cranial data. Use of 'true' types to split and organize data appears in several cranial studies. One such 1993 study found the ancient Egyptians to be more related to North African, Somalian, European, Nubian and, more remotely, Indian populations, than with Sub-Saharan Africans.[22]. Critics of this study hold that it achieves its results by manipulation of data clusters and analysis categories - casting a very wide net to achieve generic, general statistical similarities with populations such as Europeans and Indians. At the same time, the statistical net is cast much more narrowly in the case of 'blacks' - carefully defining them as an extreme type south of the Sahara and excluding related populations like Somalians, Nubians and Ethiopians,[23] as well as the ancient Badarians, a key indigenous group.[24]

It is held that when the data are looked at in toto without the clustering manipulation and selective exclusions above, then a more accurate and realistic picture emerges of African diversity. For example, ancient Egyptian matches with Indians and Europeans are generic in nature (due to the broad categories used for matching purposes with these populations) and are not due to gene flow, and that ancient Egyptians such as the Badarians show greater statistical affinities to tropical African types.[25]

Ignoring local variability within populations on such indices as nasal measurements. The variability of ancient Nile Valley populations in facial features calls several classification methods used in cranial and skeletal analysis into question. Narrow noses for example, appear among North American Plains Indians, as well as highland East Africans and Europeans. The racial categorizations of some scholars in past years thus allocated both Sioux warriors and Kenyan cattle herders to some sort of "Caucasoid" genetic mixture based on arbitrary definitions of this one trait as "European".[26] More objective recent scholarship however demonstrates that such noses are common in environments of cool, dry air- a routine climatic adaptation.[27] Such clinal factors do not rely on the need for race categories to explain how people look. Yet nose measurements and definitions based on 'true' racial models are still heavily used in some studies splitting Nile Valley peoples like Nubians, Somalians or Ethiopians into various 'racial' clusters.[28] As regards population diversity in Africa on this factor, one 1993 review notes that too often research using 'true' stereotypes:

"..presents all tropical Africans with narrower noses and faces as being related to or descended from external, ultimately non-African peoples. However, narrow-faced, narrow-nosed populations have long been resident in Saharo-tropical Africa... and their origin need not be sought elsewhere. These traits are also indigenous. The variability in tropical Africa is expectedly naturally high. Given their longstanding presence, narrow noses and faces cannot be deemed `non-African.'" [29]

Skewed cranial databases that selectively exclude certain Nile Valley areas. Exclusion of certain data can create a misleading picture of the ancient Nile Valley peoples. Such exclusions appear in standardized databases of cranial variation. Once such is the CRANID database, which uses samples from a single cemetery at Giza, in (northern) Lower Egypt dating around the final dynastic periods of Egypt (Dyn 26-30), to plot dendrograms suggesting that the population of ancient Egypt lies within a "European/Mediterranean bloc." In short the database is front-loaded towards a single cemetery close to the Mediterranean to serve as a "representative" standard in defining the ancient peoples. This skewed loading however, is not representative of the ancients as a whole, and excluded samples from the same time period based on several important cemetery sites at Elephantine, in Upper Egypt, further south. As respected mainstream Egyptologist Barry Kemp points out:

"If, on the other hand, CRANID had used one of the Elephantine populations of the same period, the geographic association would be much more with the African groups to the south. It is dangerous to take one set of skeletons and use them to characterize the population of the whole of Egypt." [30]

Population variability, limb proportions, and continuity Nile Valley peoples

As noted above, cranial and skeletal studies have several limitations, namely assumptions that 'racial' characteristics do not change from one generation to another and that statistical aggregation could represent huge populations when in essence the aggregation serves to hide or eliminate variability within those populations. (Encyclopedia Britannica, Macropedia, 2005 ed. Volume 18, "Evolution, Human", pp. 843-854)[31] Such studies however can still be valuable in analysis when the range of data is considered as a whole, without the selective exclusions and categorizations as noted above,[32] and when supported by other anthropological data such as material artifacts.[33] Balanced analyses of cranial and skeletal data show a range of population characteristics involved in those who peopled the Nile Valley. Some of this data is regional. One 1993 reanalysis for example, holds that:

"Analysis of crania is the traditional approach to assessing ancient population origins, relationships, and diversity. In studies based on anatomical traits and measurements of crania, similarities have been found between Nile Valley crania from 30,000, 20,000 and 12,000 years ago and various African remains from more recent times (see Thoma 1984; Brauer and Rimbach 1990; Angel and Kelley 1986; Keita 1993). Studies of crania from southern predynastic Egypt, from the formative period (4000-3100 B.C.), show them usually to be more similar to the crania of ancient Nubians, Kushites, Saharans, or modern groups from the Horn of Africa than to those of dynastic northern Egyptians or ancient or modern southern Europeans." [34]

Limb proportion studies link the ancient Egyptians closer to Africans and tropically adapted peoples like Africans, than Middle Easterners or Europeans

Skeletal studies in the form of limb proportions have been also used to support the cranial data. Limb ratio studies of Trinkhaus (1981) plotted Egyptian datasets near tropical Africans, not Mediterranean Europeans, confirming observations almost a century old by Warren (1897). Robins and Shute (1983, 1986) evaluated predynastic and dynastic limb ratios finding strong correlation with Negroid datasets (super-negroid in their terminology). One study (Zakrzewski 2003) confirms older findings, showing that the ancient Egyptians possessed more tropical body proportions. This indicates that the Egyptian Nile Valley was not primarily settled by cold-adapted peoples, such as Europeans. As Zakrzewski notes in her findings:

"The raw values in Table 6 suggest that Egyptians had the “super-Negroid” body plan described by Robins (1983). The values for the brachial and crural indices show that the distal segments of each limb are longer relative to the proximal segments than in many “African” populations (data from Aiello and Dean, 1990). This pattern is supported by Figure 7 (a plot of population mean femoral and tibial lengths; data from Ruff, 1994), which indicates that the Egyptians generally have tropical body plans. Of the Egyptian samples, only the Badarian and Early Dynastic period populations have shorter tibiae than predicted from femoral length. Despite these differences, all samples lie relatively clustered together as compared to the other populations. (Zakrzewski, S.R. (2003). "Variation in ancient Egyptian stature and body proportions". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121 (3): 219-229.)[35]

 

Other limb proportion studies (Trinkhaus, E. 1981. "Neanderthal limb proportions and cold adaptation." p. 211) have compared ancient Egyptians to southern Europeans, Northern Europeans, Euro-Americans and American Blacks, and found that the ancients Egyptians compared more closely with American blacks than with either white group. Later studies, using finer measurements, ((Raxter, Ruff et. al. 2008, "Stature estimation in ancient Egyptians) found the same result, even when most of ancient Egyptian samples were drawn from Giza, close to the Mediterranean, an area likely to have more migration from white Middle Easterners or southern Europeans. Limb elements of these ancient samples were closer to that of modern US Negroes. Intralimb indices however, showed no significant differences between US blacks and Egyptians. Such links to Africoid or African peoples confirm earlier studies by Robins and Shute (1983) who called ancient samples 'super negroid' and Zakrzewski (2003), as to the affinities of the early Egyptians.

 "Our results confirm that, although ancient Egyptians are closer in body proportion to modern American Blacks than they are to American Whites, proportions in Blacks and Egyptians are not identical.. Intralimb indices are not significantly different between Egyptians and American Blacks... brachial indices are definitely more ‘African’... There is no evidence for significant variation in proportions among temporal or social groupings; thus, the new formulae may be broadly applicable to ancient Egyptian remains." (Michelle Raxter, Christopher Ruff. et. al. "Stature estimation in ancient Egyptians", Am J Phys Anthropology, 2008, Jun;136(2):147-55)[35A]

Cranial analyses that include the broad range of populations in the Nile Valley tend to show a fuller picture of their diversity, as opposed to the use of one selective set of data. For example, when CRANID data is taken as a whole for the expanse of the Nile Valley, Egyptian, Nubian and African (Ethiopic) groups form a cluster together at some distance from others, and are closer to each other than to cranial data from the Near East, Turkey/Anatolia or Greece,[36] indicating confirmation with Egyptologist Frank Yurco's observation of the common heritage and continuity of the Nilotic peoples.[37]

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Standards of interpretation: mixed versus variable populations

The issue of "mixed" populations

As regards mixed populations, the issues of methodology remain, particularly in view of the makeup or variability of ancient stocks in that region. To what group for example, will a mixed race individual be credited? Variability within individual groups also involves the question of arbitrary assignment. The "Negroid" grouping in the Saharan - Nilotic - Sudanic triangle has ranged from extremely short Pygmy tribes, to slender, seven-foot tall groups with aquiline features and wavy hair. Are the latter "Caucasoid" (as asserted in older histories), of "mixed" race, or simply just another variant within the Nile Valley or Northeast African populations? Similar variability occurs in European populations, with generally longer head shapes (dolichocephaly) seen in Scandinavian and Mediterranean populations, and shorter ones (brachycephaly) seen in central and eastern Europeans, along with clear distinctions on some DNA markers between these populations.[38] And yet it would be difficult to use such variation to biologically justify a rigid racial taxonomy for these European peoples, or to say that they were different races. They are generally seen as simply variants within a larger European population. In Northeast Africa however standards are applied differently according to some mainstream scholars.[39] Some older histories assert a "third race"[40]. A more specific reexamination of the early Nile Valley populations such as the Badari, show several affinities with a range of tropical African types. (S. Keita,'A brief review of studies and comments on ancient Egyptian biological relationships,' 1995)[41]

Difficulties with fossil remains and shifting terminology. Some researchers have moved away from the terms "Negroid" or "Caucasoid" in favor of formulations like "Saharan-Nilotic" or Africoid (see Trigger above and Keita below), which emphasizes the direct local area and indigenous populations in the Nile Valley. "Saharan-Nilotic" would include the Sudan, with its well established physical and cultural linkages with Nile Valley populations. Older formulations have included racial terminologies such as "Eastern Hamites" which basically substituted for "Caucasoid". Whatever the terms used, pinning down fossil evidence can be a problematic task. Samples classified as "Eastern Hamite" for example often have the narrow rounded forehead commonly typified as "Negroid".[42]  Researchers in the past have also used the term "Mediterranean" for these "Negroid" samples, routinely reclassifying them as such.

Alternatives to notion of 'mixed populations. Some scholars such as Alan Templeton have challenged the notion of mixed populations (see DNA Analysis section below) holding that race as a biological concept is dubious and that only a minor percentage of human variability can be accounted for by distinct "races." They argue that modern DNA analysis presents a more accurate alternative, that of simply local population variants, gradations or continuums in human difference like skin color or facial shape or hair, rather than rigid categories. The notion of "mixed races" it is asserted, is built on the flawed assumptions of old racial models. [43] According to Templeton:

"Genetic surveys and the analyses of DNA haplotype trees show that human "races" are not distinct lineages, and that this is not due to recent admixture; human "races" are not and never were "pure." Instead, human evolution has been and is characterized by many locally differentiated populations coexisting at any given time, but with sufficient genetic contact to make all of humanity a single lineage sharing a common evolutionary fate.."(Human Races: A Genetic and Evolutionary Perspective, Alan R. Templeton. American Anthropologist, 1998)[44]

A number of other researchers hold that race may be relevant for certain modern medical diagnoses and treatments, and that it may be premature to completely disregard all population (or group) identifiers in biomedical research. Nevertheless they express caution about practices relying on assigning racial categories and identifiers.[45]

Population diversity and liknesses to non-African populations. Phenotypical similarities of African peoples to other peoples around the world are not surprising according to several mainstream researchers, because other populations derive from an initially diverse African source, spread over different time cycles. Cranio-metric studies (Hanihara 1996) confirm this holding, showing for example that early West Asians (today's 'Middle Easterner's) resembled Africans, and that elements like facial features draw from a common origin. Variations in how African peoples look are thus not necessarily a result of hybridization with another "race".[46a]

Distance analysis and factor analysis, based on Q-mode correlation coefficients, were applied to 23 craniofacial measurements in 1,802 recent and prehistoric crania from major geographical areas of the Old World. The major findings are as follows.. .. Recent Europeans align with East Asians, and early West Asians resemble Africans.. The craniofacial variations of major geographical groups are not necessarily consistent with their geographical distribution pattern. This may be a sign that the evolutionary divergence in craniofacial shape among recent populations of different geographical areas is of a highly limited degree. Taking all of these into account, a single origin for anatomically modern humans is the most parsimonious interpretation of the craniofacial variations presented in this study. (Hanihara T., "Comparison of craniofacial features of major human groups," Am J Phys Anthropol. 1996 Mar;99(3):389-412.) ;.[46a]

Other anthropologists also note that indigenous African variability is not surprising:

".. indicate that background genetic variation of Europeans, Oceanians, and Asians originated in Africa and precedes in time the presence of modern humans in these areas. Europeans and Asian-Australians did develop more unique genetic profiles over time, but had a common background before their average "uniqueness" emerged. This background is African in a bio-historical sense. Therefore, it should not be surprising that some Africans share similarities with non-Africans." (The Diversity of Indigenous Africans, S.O.Y. Keita, Egypt in Africa, (1996), pp. 104-105)

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |
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Population variants versus racial assignments: the Elongated Africans

The Elongated Africans. As regards local population variants, the entire East African and Nilotic zone shows substantial diversity within groups of peoples, and features automatically 'assigned' to a 'race' by various studies do not capture the complexity of real data on the ground.[47] Doubts about racial assignments appear even in older mainstream surveys. As regards aquiline noses for example, Hiernaux (1975)[48] presents archaeological evidence of such features among the most ancient East Africans (among the oldest homo sapien fossils discovered in East Africa) in the Gamble's Cave pre-historic site (Kenya) dating from 9,000 to 11,000 B.C.E. In short, one of the most ancient African populations in the general Nilotic area evolved narrow face and naso-facial patterns separately from and independent of any European or Asian genes, indicating that Africans are not 'special cases' but vary among themselves in how they look, just like other human populations. Hiernaux's findings are supported by Gabel (1961) and Rightmire (1975a,b). Such data also calls into question claims that Nilotic diversity is due to the migration of, or mix with outside Caucasoids or Asiatics.[49]

".. all their features can be found in several living populations of East Africa, like the Tutsi of Rwanda and Burundi, who are very dark skinned and differ greatly from Europeans in a number of body proportions.. There is every reason to believe that they are ancestral to the living 'Elongated East Africans'. Neither of these populations, fossil and modern, should be considered to be closely related to the populations of Europe and western Asia...(Hiernaux) "

DNA analysis on the key E3b Y-chromosone haplogroup (Cruciani et al, 2004) show that it is the primary genotype of both Elongated and Broad Africans. East Africans for example, who carry E3b don't cluster with Europeans, or Middle Easterners and E3b carrying East Africans such as the Oromo and Borana have little to no European specific Haplotypes. E3b originated in sub-Saharan Africa, is largely confined there and is rare outside Africa. (Fulvio Cruciani, et. al. "Phylogeographic Analysis of Haplogroup E3b (E-M215) Y Chromosomes Reveals Multiple Migratory Events Within and Out Of Africa," Am. J. Hum. Genet. 74:1014-1022, 2004) 50a

Genetic variation part of a built-in native baseline, affected by recent gene flow, but still part of indigenous diversity. Modern generic studies demonstrate that simple race mix models used historically in the field- that of migrating Hamites or Eurasians substantially replacing or diluting the basic stock of  peoples like Ethiopians or Somalis are simplistic. Rather they indicate Africa as the "home base" of genetic diversity, with numerous mutations and variants flowing into other parts of the continent, then out to other parts of the globe. Backflow introduced additional mutations in African stocks, but did not replace their essential indigenous character, which was very diverse to begin with. Thus various peoples like Ethiopians or Somalians, who differ from West African Bantu speakers on some genetic markers are part of one continuum of native diversity, indigenous variants that in turn absorbed more recent gene flow form outside Africa (the recent Arab expansion era for example), and are not necessarily a "mix" with invading white Hamites or migrants, as postulated under various Hamitic or demic diffusion theories. As noted by Tishkoff (2000):

"The fact that the Ethiopians and Somalis have a subset of the sub-Saharan African haplotype diversity and that the non- African populations have a subset of the diversity present in Ethiopians and Somalis makes simple-admixture models less likely; rather, these observations support the hypothesis proposed by other nuclear-genetic studies (Tishkoff et al. 1996a, 1998a, 1998b; Kidd et al. 1998) that populations in northeastern Africa may have diverged from those in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa early in the history of modern African populations and that a subset of this northeastern-African population migrated out of Africa and populated the rest of the globe. These conclusions are supported by recent mtDNA analysis (Quintana-Murci et al. 1999)." [Tishkoff et al. (2000) Short Tandem-Repeat Polymorphism/Alu Haplotype Variation at the PLAT Locus: Implications for Modern Human Origins. Am J Hum Genet; 67:901-925];50b

Some theories attempt to link peoples like the Ethiopian Falashas (Black Jews) with part of a racial mix involving outside Middle Easterners, but modern genetics again points to built in native diversity that accounts for genetic differences between the Falashas and other African populations rather than a mix with outside migrants. One study by Cruciani, Shen et al. illustrates this: 

These data, together with those reported elsewhere (Ritte et al. 1993a, 1993b; Hammer et al. 2000) suggest that the Ethiopian Jews acquired their religion without substantial genetic admixture from Middle Eastern peoples and that they can be considered an ethnic group with essentially a continental African genetic composition. (Am J Hum Genet. 2002 May; 70(5): 1197-1214, "A Back Migration from Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa Is Supported by High- Resolution Analysis of Human Y-Chromosome Haplotypes," Fulvio Cruciani,1 Piero Santolamazza,1 Peidong Shen, et. al)

Demic diffusionism and incoming non-African race models. A number of demic diffusion theories posit the replacement or absorbtion of native African stocks by incoming Asiatic migrants, as indicated by the spread of the Afro-Asiatic language and such elements as agriculture in Africa. While there certainly has been two-way migration between the Near East and Africa, neither the genetic nor the linguistic evidence support a sweeping demic diffusion model, nor the claimed racial percentage allocations as a result of such diffusion (i.e. the 'Hamitic Hypothesis' or 'Dynastic Race' theories). None of the African languages like Berber or ancient Egyptian are branches of Semitic, Indo-European or Sumerian. African words for Near Eastern domesticates like barley or sheep are not Semitic loan words, even though a number of such domesticates appeared first in the Near East.

Y-genetic profiles of the peoples of Ethiopia etc are different from core Semitic groups. "The Y genetic profiles of the Horn–Nile Valley region are different from those of the core Semitic-speaking populations in the Near East, who are characterized by a high frequency of M89 variants in the J and R haplogroups. (But as previously noted, the M35 lineage was taken into the Near East before the Neolithic perhaps by pre-proto-Semitic speakers)." Keita (2004)

A number of other writers have attempted to apply race mix models to northern Egypt which is closer to Libya and the Mediterranean, by characterizing the northern Egyptians as primarily Berber hybrids. This race model approach seriously underweighs and ignores the genetic diversity of the ancient peoples according to one 2004 critique:

"It is important to say that the indigenous northern Egyptians, while adjacent to the Libyco- Berber region, cannot simply be called ‘‘Berbers.’’ The Y chromosome data suggest that the original Egyptian Nile Valley population cannot be treated analytically as ‘‘Berber,’’ thereby in effect negating the distinctiveness and identity of the core indigenous ancient Nile Valley populations (see, e.g., Harich et al., 2002; Luis et al., 2004; Herrera et al., 2004, for a description of ‘‘Egyptians’’ as merely being an ‘‘Arab’’–‘‘Berber’’ admixture/composite, without a discussion of the indigenous Nile Valley population).

Some Horn populations assimilated southwest Asians, and even adopted their languages, which likely began as lingua francas. Certain Ethiopian groups evince substantial frequencies of ‘‘Near Eastern’’ genes (Y chromosome J group lineages), likely due to the assimilation of migrants after the first millennium BC(Munro-Hay, 1991),with some founder effect, but this is not substantially true for Oromo and Somali peoples (see, e.g., Comas et al., 1999; Sistonen et al., 1987). Linguistic evidence does not suggest that Semitic speakers brought agriculture to Ethiopia. (The Ethiopian genetic profile may have valid alternative explanations incorporating bi-directional migrations and settlements of great antiquity, depending on how old linguistics would predict the ancestral Ethio-Semitic language to be, in order to account for the present linguistic variation.) Ancient gene flow from such migrations would have been reworked by the new environment and demographic factors, and thus become a part of African biological history.

It is important to say that there is no evidence to suggest that in the Holocene population replacement occurred in any of these regions as a whole based on the Y chromosome data. Populations should be viewed processually as dynamic entities over time and not ‘‘static’’ entities. The presence of M35/215 lineages and the Benin sickle cell variant in southern Europe illustrates this well. [S. Keita "Exploring Northeast African Metric Craniofacial Variation at the Individual Level: A Comparative Study Using Principal Components Analysis," AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN BIOLOGY 16:679–689 (2004)]50c


Many of these criticisms of demic diffusion as applied to the African environment are also reflected in many applications to European peoples. See general critique of demic diffusion here from Europe's First Farmers, by Theron Douglas Price, Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. 60- 72. Instead of massive replacements or colonizations, other scholars indicate an availability model based on small scale contacts and trade. These weaknesses in the European model are even more pronounced where Africa is concerned. Natural give and take and exchange between human groups of different regions is not unusual. Whether this translates into incoming groups of cattle bearing Caucasoids achieving genetic or 'racial' preponderance over native African peoples is problematic. Such is postulated under various race percentage models. Recent DNA data (Bradley et al. 1996, Troy et al. 2001, Hanotte et al. 2002) however, shows that far from waiting for reputed European or Near Eastern colonists or migrants to introduce things like cattle herding, ancient African peoples had already independently domesticated native cattle breeds centuries before alleged Caucasoid colonization. Agriculture was already well underway in the Nile Valley, and other parts of Africa before alleged Caucasoid settlers arrived. In terms of population stocks, DNA, cranio-metric, dental and limb proportion studies indicate long-term continuity of ancient stocks that left them fundamentally intact, not sweeping replacement and colonization.

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Modern DNA analysis used on ancient Nile Valley peoples

The high genetic diversity of the East African peoples and the PN2 bridge

High genetic diversity of African peoples. The DNA research of Tishkoff and Williams (2002), et. al. (Tishkoff SA, Williams SM. "Genetic analysis of African populations..") notes that Africa, particularly East Africa, is home to the highest levels of genetic diversity in the world, and that "all non-African lineages can be derived from a single ancestral African haplogroup... non-African populations [harbour] only a subset of genetic diversity present in Africa as would be expected.." in the out of Africa evolutionary model. DNA surveys of 33 globally diverse populations, found that all non-African populations have a similar pattern of haplotypic variability and a subset of variability seen in Ethiopian and Somalian populations, "which is itself, a subset of the variability that is present in other sub-Saharan populations."

Tishkoff and Williams suggest that a subset of the ancient northeast African population played a large role in populating the rest of the globe. "Analysis of mtDNA and Y-chromosone diversity supports a single East African source of migration out of Africa." According to the study:

"Population history in Africa is likely to be a complex web of population diversification that involves population expansions, contractions, fragmentation, and differential levels and patterns of gene flow. An analysis of genome-wide genetic variation in diverse African populations is required to understand better the genetic structure of these populations."[50]

"Africa contains tremendous cultural, linguistic and genetic diversity, and has more than 2,000 distinct ethnic groups and languages.. Studies using mitochondrial (mt)DNA and nuclear DNA markers consistently indicate that Africa is the most genetically diverse region of the world. However, most studies report only a few markers in divergent African populations, which makes it difficult to draw general conclusions about the levels and patterns of genetic diversity in these populations. Historically, human population genetic studies have relied on one or two African populations as being representative of African diversity, but recent studies show extensive genetic variation among even geographically close African populations, which indicates that there is not a single ‘representative’ African population." (Tishkoff SA, Williams SM., Genetic analysis of African populations: human evolution and complex disease. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2002 Aug (8):611-21.)[50]

"Representative Africans and backflow theories." Some theories speculate that Y- genetic elements associated with the Haplogroup "E" originally beginning in Africa, flowed out from that source and mutated into other sub-clades such as E-M34 chromosomes. These mutations in turn flowed back into Africa. (Cruciani 2004).50a While gene flow of varying proportions is nothing unusual in the history North and Northeastern Africa, attempts to assign Near Eastern or Mediterranean "racial" categories to the peoples of the region on this basis are problematic.

The original Y-chromone marker "root stock" is of African origin, reflecting its beginning base of vast African genetic diversity. Any backflow mutations may simply reflect the built-in diversity inherent in the original root stock which is based in sub-Saharan Africa, not north or Northeast Africa. Haplogroup E is far more diverse in sub-Saharan east Africa than it is in northeast Africa. The ancestors to outside mutations from the Near East and elsewhere, the ancestral YAP+ clades, gave rise to such mutations as haplogroup "D". Other mutations such as E -M34 are dependent on another African ancestor, the undifferentiated E-M35 chromosomes, which are essentially confined to sub-Saharan Africa.

Undifferentiated PN2* chromosomes, the ancestral clade needed to give rise to downstream E clades like E1a1a (E3a) and E1a1b (E3b) are rare to non-existent in northeast Africa, and the ancestral YAP+ clades which would be essential to giving rise to haplogroups E and D, are virtually non-existent outside of Africa. (Keita 2004).[51a] In short, backflow mutations are based on African diversity, need ancestor triggers based in sub-Saharan Africa, and are themselves another subset of original sub-Saharan baseline variability, the engine that gave rise to all these variants.

Such complexity calls into question attempts to slice up ancient East and Northeast African populations into assigned proportions or percentages of Negroid, Caucasoid, Asiatic, or Middle Eastern race groups. It also calls into question attempts to assign such populations to one monolithic type. Nilo-Saharan and Bantu speakers for example differ in some respects, but both strands are indigenous Africans. And despite their wide dispersion, Bantu speakers cannot be considered to be "representative" of "true" Africans. They are simply one more variant in the mix and groupings of African genetic diversity. Per Tishkoff (2002) "there is not a single ‘representative’ African population."

The PN2 Transition

Kittles and Keita (2004) also note the vast genetic diversity of Africans, and how similar looking people may not possess the same DNA pattern. A DNA lineage may also include people who do not look the same outwardly.[51]

"Individuals with the same morphology do not necessarily cluster with each other by lineage, and a given lineage does not include only individuals with the same trait complex (or 'racial type'). Y-chromosome DNA from Africa alone suffices to make this point. Africa contains populations whose members have a range of external phenotypes. This variation has usually been described in terms of 'race' (Caucasoids, Pygmoids, Congoids, Khoisanoids). But the Y-chromosome clade defined by the PN2 transition (PN2/M35, PN2/M2) shatters the boundaries of phenotypically defined races and true breeding populations across a great geographical expanse. African peoples with a range of skin colors, hair forms and physiognomies have substantial percentages of males whose Y chromosomes form closely related clades with each other, but not with others who are phenotypically similar. The individuals in the morphologically or geographically defined 'races' are not characterized by 'private' distinct lineages restricted to each of them." (S O Y Keita, R A Kittles, et al. "Conceptualizing human variation," Nature Genetics 36, S17 - S20 (2004)


The PN2 transition thus unites a large number of African peoples, independently of how the look. Narrow noses or loosely curled hair for example do not automatically indicate "Caucasoid admixture" but are simply another routine variant within the African genetic spectrum. Likewise, dark skin or tightly curled hair do not necessarily indicate "Bantu migrations" to assorted regions of Africa. As noted in one 2004 mainstream analysis:

"A review of the recent literature indicates that there are male lineage ties between African peoples who have been traditionally labeled as being ‘‘racially’’ different, with ‘‘racially’’ implying an ontologically deep divide. The PN2 transition, a Y chromosome marker, defines a lineage (within the YAPþ derived haplogroup E or III) that emerged in Africa probably before the last glacial maximum, but after the migration of modern humans from Africa (see Semino et al., 2004). This mutation forms a clade that has two daughter subclades (defined by the biallelic markers M35/215 (or 215/M35) and M2) that unites numerous phenotypically variant African populations from the supra-Saharan, Saharan, and sub-Saharan regions based on current data (Underhill, 2001).

The M2 lineage is mainly found primarily in ‘‘eastern,’’ ‘‘sub-Saharan,’’ and sub-equatorial African groups, those with the highest frequency of the ‘‘Broad’’ trend physiognomy, but found also in notable frequencies in Nubia and Upper Egypt, as indicated by the RFLP TaqI 49a, f variant IV (see Lucotte and Mercier, 2003; Al-Zahery et al. 2003 for equivalences of markers), which is affiliated with it. The distribution of these markers in other parts of Africa has usually been explained by the ‘‘Bantu migrations,’’ but their presence in the Nile Valley in non- Bantu speakers cannot be explained in this way. Their existence is better explained by their being present in populations of the early Holocene Sahara, who in part went on to people the Nile Valley in the mid-Holocene, according to Hassan (1988); this occurred long before the ‘‘Bantu migrations,’’ which also do not explain the high frequency of M2 in Senegal, since there are no Bantu speakers there either." [S. Keita, "Exploring Northeast African Metric Craniofacial Variation at the Individual Level: A Comparative Study Using Principal Components Analysis," AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN BIOLOGY 16:679–689 (2004)][51a]


DNA data showing linkages between Nile Valley and other African populations

DNA studies on modern Nile Valley populations. While the high genetic diversity of nearby East African populations impacted the Nile Valley, a more specific 2004 mtDNA study of upper Egyptians from Gurna performed found a genetic ancestral heritage to modern East Africans, characterized by a high M1 haplotype frequency, and another study links Egyptians in general with people from modern Eritrea and Ethiopia.[52]

A 2003 Y chromosome study was performed by Lucotte on modern Egyptians, with haplotypes V, XI, and IV being most common. Haplotype V is common in Berbers and Ethiopian Falashas (black Jews) has a low frequency outside Africa. Haplotypes V, XI, and IV are all supra/sub-Saharan horn of Africa haplotypes, and they are far more dominant in Egyptians than in Near Eastern or European groups.[53]

DNA studies of autosomal short tandem repeat loci (STRs) in modern Egyptian populations, where they are not lumped with other regions, such as Libya, suggest important genetic differences between Egyptian and European populations (Klintschar et al. 1999).[54], and the work of such scholars as Tishkoff 2002 showing that the highest incidence of genetic diversity is found in East Africans, caution against simple racial percentage models. The DNA data is also supported by the metric work on skeletal remains,[55], (see "Summary" section below) and numerous cultural and material linkages between Nile Valley peoples demonstrated by other scholars (see also Cultural Linkages section below).

DNA studies on ancient mummies. DNA samples on ancient remains can be difficult to process due to contamination by fungi and a host of other factors.[56] However when ancient samples are analyzed they yield a picture suggesting the primarily indigenous nature of many Nile Valley peoples. For example, when ancient mitochondrial DNA was tested from a liver found in a canopic jar belonging to Nekht-Ankh, a Middle Kingdom priest, they were found to be quite similar to modern Egyptian mitochondrial lineages. Results from further DNA comparisons to non-southern Nile Delta populations in the late 1980s found that "small subsets of modern Egyptian mitochondrial DNA lineages are closely related to Sub-Saharan African lineages."[57]

DNA studies of Nile Valley gene flow. A 1999 DNA study of gene flow among the Nile Valley populations raises even more doubts about the Aryan model's claims of a "Mediterranean race" sweeping into the north, then branching out to civilize the darker natives further south. The study assessed the extent to which the Nile River Valley has been a corridor for human migrations between Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa. Overall the the gene flow suggests a north-south axis of distribution with the genetic mix between Nubia and Egypt consistent with historical evidence for long-term interactions between Egypt and Nubia. The study suggests greater weight of gene flow from the 'darker' south to the north, than from north to south.[58]

This finding is also consistent with a 2004 mtDNA study of Upper Egyptians at Gurna, a population with an ancient cultural history, that found genetic linkages extending back into older ancestral East African populations particularly Ethiopia.[59] The significance of south-north movement or connections is also reflected in ancient Egyptian origin myths, that maintained their ancestors derived from East Africa, such as the region of Punt, around modern day Somalia (Cottrell 1961, Davidson 1959).[60] A greater weight of southern movement is also reflected in the region's more advanced pre-dynastic material culture, and eventual conquest or absorption of the north by the south (Bard 1987). The later coming of other peoples to the Nile Valley (Hyskos, Assyrians, etc) would alter its gene flow even more, and the role of some rulers of southern origin (i.e. Menthuhotep, et al.) as restorationists or unifiers in Egyptian history against such outsiders is well known.[61] Nevertheless, the preponderance of most mainstream research in both DNA and skeletal measures suggests long term indigenous population continuity of the Nile Valley peoples.[62]

DNA and linkages between Nile Valley and Levantine/Middle Eastern populations

Some DNA research demonstrates genetic linkages between the peoples of the Near East (Iran, Iraq, etc) with those of the Nile Valley and adjoining areas. Such linkages are not unusual given the movements of peoples. (Krings et al.). One such study researched Somalis, and holds that East Africans are more related to Eurasians than sub-Saharan Africans by a 10% margin.[62a] However the same study also shows that East Africans (Somalians, Oromos of Ethiopia and North Kenya, etc) are linked with each other to a much higher extent than the 10% differential influence between Eurasians or sub-Saharan Africans, (15% and 5% respectively). Ironically, the study's use of such labels as "sub-Saharan" is misleading, since both Somalians and Kenyans are located below the Sahara. Other research on Egyptian populations also show the same pattern, with stronger links to other localized East African populations than European, sub-Saharan or Middle Eastern groups.[62b] Studies based on DNA maternal lineages also link Egyptians with people from modern Eritrea/Ethiopia such as the Tigre people.[62c] Other research illustrates that modern Egyptians have greater genetic affinities primarily with populations of North and Northeast Africa than with Europeans, sub-Saharan Africans or Arabs.[62d] It should be noted that the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who are closely related to Egyptians, are "sub- Saharan", whether defined as such by the oft used 15-degrees latitude line,, or by the PN2 Y-Genetic transition, that links a vast number of African peoples together, even though they look different outwardly.(S. Keita, History in Africa, Vol. 20, (1993), 129-154).[62e]

Such diverse population patterns show a mix of genetic strands that cannot be defined in stark racial terms as of a narrowly stereotyped "sub-Saharan" type, versus all others. The "sub-Saharan" component is itself highly variable, with types such as "elongated" (some East African types) or "broad" African (some West African types), or any number of variants with differing body type, skin color, etc. As one anthropologist puts it: "The extreme Negroid variant is just that, a variant, and not a "founding" or the "original" type." (S. Keita, History in Africa, Vol. 20, (1993), 129-154).[62e]   This variability is reflected in DNA data as well. Thus various gene mutations found near Africa, such as that in the Middle East, are a subset of the original baselines found in Africa before out-migration. This baseline is the most diverse in the world. Cranio-metric studies reflect this reality. Hanihara (1996) for example found early West Asians to resemble Africans, confirming the point of origin in the baseline stock. As researcher Cavalli-Sforza notes about gene variations in Africans:

" In other words, all non-Africans carry M168. Of course, Africans carrying the M168 mutation today are the descendants of the African subpopulation from which the migrants originated.... Thus, the Australian/Eurasian Adam (the ancestor of all non-Africans) was an East African Man." (Linda Stone, Paul F. Lurquin, L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Genes, Culture, and Human Evolution: A Synthesis, Wiley-Blackwell: 2006, pg 108)

Gene flow from outside Africa into this already diverse stew does not define away its essential Africanity. One study for example, notes gene flow between Yemen and Ethiopia as a two-way process over the span of history, affected by many factors- ranging from the Bantu speaking dispersals, the slave trade or migration and trade. It also notes however that "The sub-Saharan African component of Ethiopians has remained untouched by such influences and may therefore be considered most representative of the indigenous gene pool of sub-Saharan East Africa."[62f]  Ethiopian gene flow into Yemen did not make the Yemenis another race, neither did gene flow into Ethiopia make the native peoples cease being Ethiopian. Scholars such as Egyptologist Frank Yurco (1996) also affirms this basic continuity of peoples: "Certainly there was some foreign admixture [in Egypt], but basically a homogeneous African population had lived in the Nile Valley from ancient to modern times... [the] Badarian people, who developed the earliest Predynastic Egyptian culture, already exhibited the mix of North African and Sub-Saharan physical traits that have typified Egyptians ever since (Hassan 1985; Yurco 1989; Trigger 1978; Keita 1990")" [62g]

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images |
Summary | Misc Notes | Hair  | Geographic | DemicDiff |

 

Methodological problems in applying of DNA analysis to ancient Nile Valley populations

When attempts are made to split the ancient Nile Valley populations along racial lines using DNA analysis, the following methodological problems have been noted by several scholars. (Keita and Kittles 1997, Boyce and Keita 2005, Liberman 2001 et. al.)

  • 'Race' as a factor in differentiating human populations occurs in very low proportions calling into question its usefulness re Nile Valley peoples
  • Use of stereotypical "true" negro types to represent African genetic diversity
  • Contradictory results from DNA racial studies
  • Use of limited samples as "representative" of "Africans" versus use of broad data ranges to represent Europeanized populations
  • Pre-sorting and lumping of samples into racial categories before beginning DNA analysis thus skewing final results
  • Limited applicability of DNA racial analysis in dicing up closely related population
  • Exclusion of African data that does not meet pre-determined racial models
  • Use of misleading labeling such as "Oriental" or "Near Eastern" rather than taking DNA data in local context
  • Sampling bias- commonly using samples from northern Egypt, which as had more foreign influx from the Mediterranean and Near East as 'representative' of all Egyptians
  • Inconsistent methodology and failure to look at broader more complex models of population genesis

Some DNA analysis throws doubt on racial categories

Modern DNA analysis such as the work of Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, has analzed genetic affinities among peoples and enabled broad clustering groups to be defined. These clusters are held to relate fairly well to the "classical" racial groupings.[63] Other researchers however such as Lewontin using the same analysis point out that the genetic affinities attributable to race only make up 6-10% of variant analysis. This is a threshold well below that used to analyze lineages in other species, leading many researches to question the validity of race as a biological construct. (Apportionment of Racial Diversity: A Review, Ryan A. Brown and George J. Armelagos, 2001, Evolutionary Anthropology, 10:34-40)[64] Lewontin's analysis has been validated and replicated by numerous other studies, using a wide range of different analytical methods- (Latter 1980, Nei and Roychoudhury 1982, Ryaman 1983, Dean 1994, Barbujani 1997).

Other similar work using mtDNA analysis shows a larger variance within designated racial categories than outside (Excoffier 1992). Work such as Miller (1997) has found greater racial difference by focusing on specific loci, but these are compartively rare (2 out of 17, and 4 out of 109 in re-analyses by other researchers), and are well within the range of other factors such as genetic drift and clinal variation. Restudies of loci data (Lewotin, Barbajuni, Latter, et. al as noted above)yield even more conservative estimates of race as a factor in genetic variability.[65] On the basis of this data, some scholars (Owens and King 1999) hold that skin color, hair and facial features and other factors are more attributable to climate selective factors rather than stereotypic racial differences.[66]

DNA racial studies and contradictory results from study design

Liberman and Jackson (1995), and Ryan and Armelagos(2001) point to contradictory results in DNA racial analysis, in that many studies "select the small proportion of genetic variability that is roughly apportionable by race to plot out dendrograms of essentially false categorizations of human variability. To accomplish this, these studies use apriori categorizations of human variability that are based on the inaccurate belief that classical racial categorization schemes delineate a series of isolated breeding populations.." An example of contradictory results are seen in the work of such researches as Bowcock, Bowcock, Sforza, et. al, 1994.

"Despite a research design that should have maximized the degree to which the researchers were able to classify individuals by racial category, the results are something less than "high resolution" with respect to this goal. For example, 88% of individuals were classified as coming from the right continent, while only 46% were classified as coming from the right region within each continent. Notably, 0% success was achieved in classifying East Asian populations to their region or origin. These results occurred despite the fact that Bowcock and co-workers entered their genetic information into a program that already used the a priori racial categories they were trying to replicate."[67]

Some writers maintain that ironically, some of Bowcock's data itself contradicts "classical" race categories, suggesting that Caucasoids, rather than being a primary group, are a secondary type or race, a hybrid strain based on certain variants of African and Asian populations.[68]

DNA methods and the pre-sorting of data before analysis

In the light of this modern DNA analysis, grouping methods and classifications like Cavalli-Sforza's Extra-European Caucasoid to incorporate various North African peoples like the Egyptians, Ethiopians, and others, has drawn criticism from some scholars (Keita and Kittles 1999) for advocating the language of a non-racial approach, but in practice, using pre-defined, arbitrary categories to hold the data rather than let them speak for themselves. [69] Sorting or lumping of populations like Egyptians and Libyans together before analysis into pre-selected categories, or arbitrarily allocating other groups elsewhere, is held to be problematic in getting a true picture of the Nilke Valley's population diversity. Populations like those in the Nile Valley - just like populations anywhere in Africa - can have a wide range of variation, hold Kittles and Keita in The Persistence of Racial Thinking and the Myth of Racial Divergence as opposed to pigeonholing them into apriori groupings.[70]

Other anthropologists such as Lieberman and Jackson (1995), also find numerous methodological and conceptual problems in using DNA sequencing methods such as cladistics to support concepts of race. They hold for example that: "the molecular and biochemical proponents of this model explicitly use racial categories in their initial grouping of samples. For example, 'the large and highly diverse macroethnic groups of East Indians, North Africans, and Europeans are presumptively grouped as Caucasians prior to the analysis of their DNA variation. This limits and skews interpretations, obscures other lineage relationships, deemphasizes the impact of more immediate clinal environmental factors on genomic diversity, and can cloud our understanding of the true patterns of affinity.' [71]

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

DNA methods using 'true negro' types

Limitations in specific DNA sampling techniques have also been noted by writers such as Keita and Kittles, particularly as regards the "representative" samples used for "black" Africans. One example cited is Cavalli-Sforza's advocacy of defining "core populations" (discrete, less admixed groupings, i.e. "races") and their evolution and migration. Followers of this approach (Horai 1995) use DNA analysis to postulate racial divergence times, when discrete populations supposedly began to form from "core" peoples into spreading populations throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and elsewhere. As regards Africa, the entire mtDNA sequence was applied to the core groups or populations to determine such divergences. Samples used in measurement were (a) one African individual from Uganda who was used to represent all African peoples, (b) 10 individuals from Japan, whose gene data was amalgamated into a consensus to represent Asians, and (c) a large cluster of Europeanized data called the Cambridge sequence was used as a stand-in for Europeans. On this basis, entire geographic regions were conceptualized as authentic.

Keita and Kittles call for less narrow definition of "true types" and recognition of a wide range of population gradients and variations among peoples of Africa, particularly northeast Africa (the Horn, Nubia, the Nile Valley and the Sahara).[72]

DNA methodology and geographic distances

A number of surveys have attempted to use DNA data as a marker of race, tyically centering on identifying populations based on their geographic regions. Such studies are sometimes fairly accurate in distinguishing between groups that were very widely separated by distance- such as European Swedes versus African Pygmies. However when groups living in close proximity to each other are analyzed then the analyses lose much of their strength. Applied to peoples in Southern India for example, data from one survey showed that they had much more in common genetically with each other than with distant peoples such as Europeans.[73] This proximity of related peoples (Nubians, Egyptians, Somalians, Ethiopians, Sudanese, etc), sharing a number of common genetic, material and cultural elements.[74] is precisely what is at issue in the Nilotic populations. On such counts, many DNA studies that attempt to dice up that population into traditionally assigned racial groups fall short.[75]

Clustering methods across geographic boundaries to place racial groups have also been questioned, such as the use of such huge categories as Europeans and Asians west of the Himalayas,[76] assignment of the widest possible categories to groups classified as Caucasoid,[77] while isolating certain others in narrower regions, separating out related populations (i.e. the Nilotic peoples), and non-evolutionary treatment of movement through geographic barriers.[78] The Sahara for example was often fertile in various eras and with a fluctuating climate cycle congenial to movement and interchange, and was not a rigid barrier throughout the millennia.[79]

DNA studies and racial models excluding certain African data

Several DNA studies applied to peoples near or in the Nile Valley have also been criticized for downplaying or excluding essential data on African populations in order to maintain certain racial models.[80] One study of gene and language flow for example, repeatedly excluded African data not meeting assigned racial categories, removing Chadic, Omotic and Cushitic speakers to create the impression that Ethiopians are an anomaly, i.e. Africans who speak the language of Caucasians.[81] When gene-frequency clustering in another survey did not adhere to the designated Caucasian categories (European and Middle Eastern) the study's authors simply excluded the non-European DNA samples to achieve desired results. According to one review: "The data in effect were tailored to fit into the traditional racial schema."[82] The racial models used in similar research have also been queried, particularly when data from various peoples held to be 'representative' of certain racial classifications (Berbers for example) continually shifts between 'assigned' categories, calling the validity of the categories themselves into question.[83]

DNA studies and sampling bias

DNA studies have also been critiqued for sampling bias, in particular, using samples drawn mostly from northern (Lower) Egypt, which has historically had the presence of more foreigners from the Mediterranean and the Near East, and using those samples as representing the rest of Egypt, excluding the 'darker' south or Upper Egypt. Hammer (1997)  for example  uses samples drawn from the far northern city of Cairo, near the Mediterranean to represent North Africa, and thus all of Egypt. Cavalli-Sforza, Luis et. al.  (2004)  also use northern Egyptians to create clustering matches with peoples from the Middle East. As one anthropologist notes in a review of DNA research in the area: 

However, in some of the studies, only individuals from northern Egypt are sampled, and this could theoretically give a false impression of Egyptian variability (contrast Lucotte and Mercier 2003a with Manni et al. 2002), because this region has received more foreign settlers (and is nearer the Near East). Possible sample bias should be integrated into the discussion of results. (S.O.Y. Keita, A.J. Boyce, "Interpreting Geographical Patterns of Y Chromosome Variation1," History in Africa 32 (2005) 221-246 )

Use of misleading labels applied to Nile Valley DNA data

Pre-labeling may not capture complexity of population variability

A number of researchers such as Sforza, et. al continue to use categories such as Extra European Caucasoid and other related labels to categorize the Nile Valley peoples. Others such as Keita and Kittles argue that modern DNA and anthropological analysis points to the need for less pre-categorization and more emphasis on clinal variation and gradations that are more than adequate to explain differences between peoples rather than pre-conceived racial categories. It is held that arbitrary divisions into "Caucasoid" clusters, use of stereotypical "true" negro or sub-Saharan samples, and separating out of other Northeast African populations, does not capture the full range of variation among of Nile Valley peoples. Such variation need not be the result of a "mix" from categories such as Negroid or Caucasoid, but may be simply a contiuum of peoples in that region from skin color, to facial features, to hair, to height.[84]

Keita's arguments also contradict assertions and labels used by some Afrocentric writers as to the 'race' of the ancient peoples, and the culture and genetics of the Nilotic peoples, such as the "sun people, ice people" formulation of US college Professor Leonard Jefferies in the 1990s.[85] Keita's research also challenges Afrocentric notions as to a worldwide 'black' phenotype in places such as New Guinea or India linked with the Nilotic or African peoples,[86] pointing rather to DNA data placing such populations closer to those of Southeast Asia rather than the Nile Valley.[87] 

Use of labels such as 'Oriental,' 'Arabic,' or 'Middle Eastern'

The question of inconsistent labeling also arises in describing African and Nile Valley DNA samples, held by some scholars to be part of "the ongoing tendency in some disciplines to label the Nile valley as Middle Eastern, in a fashion that effectively suggests that Egypt has no African context, and that also hides its biocultural Africanity in pre-Islamic times."[88]

Chromosonial variants that have a bearing on the Nile Valley include Haplotype IV, which is found in high frequency in west, central, and sub-equatorial Africa in speakers of Niger-Congo, and to some extent among the Nubians. Another variant, Haplotype XI has its highest frequencies in the Horn and the Nile valley, but has been misleadingly called "Oriental". The haplotypes VII and VIII are the major indigenous Near Eastern haplotypes, found especially in Near Eastern Arabic speakers and Jews. In comparison to those of V their frequencies are small in supra-Saharan Africa.[89]

Haplotype V has also seen the use of misleading terms like "Arabic" to describe it, implying it is of 'Middle Eastern' origins.[90] When the hapotype V variant is looked at in context however, very high prevalences occur in African countries above the Sahara and Ethiopia, with heavy concentrations found among Berbers and Falashas (black Jews of Ethiopia). The weight of this distribution in Africa, rather than Arabia, has led researchers like Lucotte 1993, 1996 et. al.) to call the gene variant "African" or "Berber." As regards the Ethiopian Falahas, (the 'black' Jews), they have a very high frequency of haplotypes V and XI, with none or little of VII and VIII (often associated with movements of Arabic and Turkic peoples into Egypt) which shows them to be "clearly of African origin" per Lucotte and Mercier, 2003. As a result of this data, some DNA researchers hold that it is more accurate to call hapotype V "Horn-supra-Saharan African" rather than "Arabic" and to recognize it as indigeous to Africa rather than labeling it as "Middle Eastern" or "Oriental."[91] Overall the Nile Valley peoples show a diversity of chromosonal patterns throughout their long history.[92]

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Inconsistent methodology and failure to look at broader, more complex models of population genesis

DNA Studies that seek to carve up the ancient Nile Valley populations into racial percentages have also been questioned by such researchers as Keita and Boyce 2005, and Kittles and Keita 1997.[93] They note that gene flow in the ancient Nile Valley is widely accepted, given the presence of Hyskos, Assyrians, Libyans, Greeks, Romans etc at various times in Egyptian history. However it is deemed problematic to jump from this fact to assigning 'racial' percentages of Caucasoid, Negroid, or West Asian (i.e. Caucasian) to the ancients. Mainstream Egyptologist F. Yurco (1989) also notes the limited applicability of such 'racial' models to the ancient peoples who are properly one Nilotic community[94] Kittles and Keita suggest that many studies typically use a "true negro" approach - finding a gene marker prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, and then running tests on modern day sample populations. If the "true African" gene marker is not found heavily in the target area, then the inhabitants are deemed 'non-black' or 'mixed.' They note that there is inconsistent use of methodology- scholars generally show little interest in applying similar methods to populations deemed 'true white' - i.e. testing for gene markers unique to Nordic peoples and declaring their absence to certify a particular target group as 'black.'

Keita and Boyce (2005) maintain that differentiation of DNA haplogroups began BEFORE emigration out of Africa and that "there would be indigenous supra-Saharan/Saharan or Horn-supra-Saharan haplotypes." African populations at an earlier time thus had a vast range of native variation and biodiversity in place from the beginning, and their heterogeneity is an organic part of the African heritage and not necessarily a sign of admixture between groups with widely varying DNA. They call for more balanced and complex models based on evolutionary processes.

"It is important to consider more complex models of population genesis, which allow for historically visible "groups" to be heterogeneous at origin, due to evolutionary (or social) processes, instead of interpreting heterogeneity as a necessary sign of admixture between distinct historically-known groups with different haplotypes or gene frequencies."[95]

Modern DNA studies also show the relationships between the Nile Valley peoples, confirming their basic continuity.

"These findings affirm the historical contact between Ethiopia and eastern Sudan ( 1998), and the fact that these populations speak languages of the Afro-Asiatic family tree reinforces the strong correlation between linguistic and genetic diversity..  "Genetic continuum of the Nubians with their kin in southern Egypt is indicated by comparable frequencies of E-V12 the predominant M78 subclade among southern Egyptians... "The Copt samples displayed a most interesting Y-profile, enough (as much as that of Gaalien in Sudan) to suggest that they actually represent a living record of the peopling of Egypt. The significant frequency of B-M60 in this group might be a relic of a history of colonization of southern Egypt probably by Nilotics in the early state formation, something that conforms both to recorded history and to Egyptian mythology."
(Hisham Y. Hassan 1, Peter A. Underhill 2, Luca L. Cavalli-Sforza 2, Muntaser E. Ibrahim 1. (2008). Y-chromosome variation among Sudanese: Restricted gene flow, concordance with language, geography, and history. Am J Phys Anthropology, 2008.)
[95]

The Sahara, the Sudan and the Levant in Nile Valley peopling

The Sahara and the Sudan


Saharan-Sudanic inheritance of Nile Valley settlers. Data on the peopling of the Nile Valley do not appear to support earlier historical notions of an initial wave of Caucasoid invaders entering from the North in order to introduce civilization. Mainstream data shows gradual movement and peopling from the south- the Saharan zone and associated parts of the Sudanic region, fusing with indigenous Nilotic elements already in place, leading into the development of the well-known Egyptian kingdoms, not sweeping insertions from the Mediterranean, Mesopotamia or elsewhere.(AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 83:35-48 (1990)[96]  As to the Saharan movement Afrocentric critics such as Mary Lefkowitz note:

"Recent work on skeletons and DNA suggests that the people who settled in the Nile valley, like all of humankind, came from somewhere south of the Sahara; they were not (as some nineteenth-century scholars had supposed) invaders from the North. See Bruce G. Trigger, "The Rise of Civilization in Egypt," Cambridge History of Africa (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1982), vol I, pp 489-90; S. O. Y. Keita, "Studies and Comments on Ancient Egyptian Biological Relationships," History in Africa 20 (1993) 129-54.[97a]

Elements from East Africa, the Sahara and associated Sudanic regions appear to have been involved in the peopling Egypt according to a number of mainstream references. The Khartoum Culture and other zones of the Sudan for example show significant influence as indicated by pottery, jewelry, tools and implements, raw materials such as certain types of stone, and artistic designs.[98a] Another Afrocentric critic, A. Froment, notes that similarities between Egyptians and other East Africans are nothing unusual, and need not be explained by the old "Mediterranean, or 'leucoderm Africans with a Hamitic background'" theories (i.e an influx of Causacoid Hamites). "Black populations of the Horn of Africa (Tigré and Somalia) fit well into Egyptian variations." (Froment, Alain, Origines du peuplement de l’Égypte ancienne: l’apport de l’anthropobiologie, Archéo-Nil 2 (Octobre 1992), 79-98)[98b]


Limited outside inspiration needed by Nile Valley settlers. Whatever the exact mix of peoples on the ground, the work of mainstream research therefore demonstrates that from early pre-dynastic times, Egypt was essentially settled by indigenous elements closely associated with groups from the Saharan and Sudanic region moving up into the Nile Valley, and excluded any significant influx from Mediterraneans, Mesopotamians or others not indigenous to the area. Migration theories sometimes rely on the introduction of cattle herding, but archealogical data (Wendorf 2001, Wettstrom 1999) suggests that the peoples of the Sahara had already independently domesticated cattle in the early Holocene eastern Sahara, followed by the gradual adoption of grain cultivation, or gradual adoption of Near Eastern domesticates into an already established foraging and subsistence economy, rather than an influx of outsiders bringing benefits to the indigenes.[99]As another mainstream scholar puts it:

"Some have argued that various early Egyptians like the Badarians probably migrated northward from Nubia, while others see a wide-ranging movement of peoples across the breadth of the Sahara before the onset of desiccation. Whatever may be the origins of any particular people or civilization, however, it seems reasonably certain that the predynastic communities of the Nile valley were essentially indigenous in culture, drawing little inspiration from sources outside the continent during the several centuries directly preceding the onset of historical times... (Robert July, Pre-Colonial Africa, 1975, p. 60-61) [100]

Population variability in Lower (northern) Egypt. As regards predynastic population, peoples of Lower or northern Egypt show a range of variability and types. Sweeping classifications such as Caucasoid or a "Mediterranean Race" depicted under older Aryan race models are thus problematic for this region. A number of influences were present from surrounding populations. According to one Egyptologist, (Kemp 2005) northern populations around sites such as Merimda, Maadi and Wadi Digla have quite different characteristics from sample populations from early Palestine and Byblos:

"..sample populations available from northern Egypt from before the 1st Dynasty (Merimda, Maadi and Wadi Digla) turn out to be significantly different from sample populations from early Palestine and Byblos, suggesting a lack of common ancestors over a long time. If there was a south-north cline variation along the Nile valley it did not, from this limited evidence, continue smoothly on into southern Palestine. The limb-length proportions of males from the Egyptian sites group them with Africans rather than with Europeans."Ancient Egypt Anatomy of a Civilisation, Barry Kemp, Routledge; 2 ed, 2005, pp. 7-105) [101]

Research in 2008 once again examined ancient Egyptian limb proportions from the north, sampling mostly Old Kingdom remains. Despite drawing most of these samples from the area of Egypt closer to the Mediterranean and Levant, with greater historic migration from Europeans and Middle Easterners, the limb proportions of the ancient Egyptians groups more with tropical peoples like American Blacks, than with cold-adapted people like American Whites, confirming earlier studies showing the same pattern. (See Raxter and Ruff (2008) and Trinkhaus (1981)."[35A]

Cultural interchange among the Nile Valley peoples. A 1996 collection of art and material culture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, also highlights several cultural links between the Nile Valley peoples, and demonstrates that they were part of a larger indigenous African context, with local variation. (Egypt in Africa, 1996, Theodore Celenko (ed), Curator, Indianapolis Museum of Art). The exhibit suggests 8 common areas of interchange, similarity and linkage, grouping artefacts according to such themes as: Mother and child figures, Headrests, Depictions of humans, Ancestor worship and divine kingship, Animal Deities and symbols, Masking, Body art and Circumcision and male initiation.[102]

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Peopling from the Levant and Maghreb sources

The archaeology of the Predynastic and early Dynastic periods show relatively little large-scale movement of peoples from the Levant- the zone bordering the Eastern Mediterranean that includes parts of Turkey, and Syria, Lebanon, and Israel and the Maghreb which includes modern day countries in North Africa like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. However this does not mean that there was not small-scale migration.[103] Trade and contacts were maintained between Egypt and the countries to the east, particularly the Syria, Palestine area.[104]

Evidence of early contacts appears in Upper and Lower Egypt as well. The earliest Neolithic site is found in Lower Egypt, Merimda. The inhabitants appear to have progressed in material culture, building a type of single-adult dwelling arranged in clusters, sometimes found today in sub-Saharan Africa,[105]and which may have been also present in Palestine and north-east Africa. The Ma'adian complex of sites near Merimda also indicates that it had trade and cultural contact with both the Syro-Palestine area and southern (Upper) Egypt.[106] Trade items, plants cultivated and pottery in Lower Egypt indicates contact not only with the south but contacts with the Levant and with the Sumerians of Uruk.[107] Some scholars suggest that the effort to control trade with the southern Levant and Mesopotamia may have played a role in encouraging expansion of Upper (southern) Egyptian cultural and political hegemony northward.[108]

Trade with the LEvant/Mosopotamia. Among the imported raw materials are copper, obsidian, silver, lapis lazuli, and cylinder seals. All Mesopotamian/Palestinian trade was not funnelled through the north- evidence of exchanges between Upper Egypt and these regions also appears in the record. Marks (1997). Excavations in Palestine under the early dynastic period of the Upper Egyptian hegemons “indicate substantial Egyptian activity in southern Palestine during the late Predynastic to early Dynastic transition,” including establishment of military bases and more forceful domination of trade terms. (Wilkinson 1999, p.24). Within Egypt, Memphis appears ideally situated to the purposes of the southerners as they centralized power and brought more advanced culture and technology to the north. "The greater Memphite area must have seen the first changes to this indigenous tradition caused by the northward expansion of the more advanced technologies from Upper Egypt” (Wilkinson 1996, p.31) Nubia also forms part of the trade equation, as goods from further south were themselves acquired by the southern dynasts. Indeed products from Naqadda (ebony, ivory, animal skills and incense, etc) appear in the grave goods of Nubian settlements such as Qustul and Sayala. A number of military operations by the southern hegemons also appear to have taken place into Nubia during the early Dynastic period. (Toby A. H. Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, Routledge, 1999, pp. 25-182)[116] Tassie and Van Wettering (2003) however caution against explaining the southern ascension solely in terms of trade, stating that “it is too simple to call sites where imported goods have been found ‘trade centres’ or connect them with the royal administration if serekhs [royal insignia] were found” (p.504). Sites discovered with trade goods may reflect storage points controlled by rising southern elites as their power spread north, rather than bustling market entrepots or courts of administration. (Tassie,G and Van Wetering, J. (2003) "Early Cemeteries of the Eastern Delta In Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty First Century," Ed. Hawass, Z.)

The population of Lower Egypt shows a range of variation from those further south, a mix of features but still one indigenous population. On top of this native mix with its indigenous diversity was added migration form the Levant and Maghreb at different points of Egyptian history. In the words of one anthropologist:

"Early southern predynastic Egyptian crania show tropical African affinities, displaying craniometric trends that differ notably from the coastal northern African pattern. The various craniofacial patterns discernible in northern Africa are attributable to the agents of microevolution and migration.." The peopling of what is now the Egyptian Nile Valley, judging from archaeological and biological data, was apparently the result of a complex interaction between coastal northern Africans, “neolithic” Saharans, Nilotic hunters, and riverine proto-Nubians with some influence and migration from the Levant (Hassan, 1988). The major variability of early “Egyptians” is thus seen to have been mainly established in the proto-predynastic period by the settling of all of these peoples. No ongoing major mass movements of new groups into the valley are postulated between the early pre-dynastic and the latest dynastic period, with the possible exception of the Asiatic Hyksos." (Keita, S. O. Y, "A brief review of studies and comments on ancient Egyptian biological relationships," Journal International Journal of Anthropology, Springer: Netherlands, ISSN 0393-9383, Issue Volume 10, Numbers 2-3 / April, 1995 , Pages 107-123)[108a]

Egyptian inscriptions suggest that the early period pharaoh Narmer conducted expeditions into Palestine, Jordan and Mesopotamia, and titles claimed such as 'Smiter of Asiatics' may reflect such military operations.[109]Tomb artefacts from the early pharaonic era show Mesopotamian/Middle Eastern/Asiatic types kneeling in submission to the Egyptian kings. These historical documents and depictions contradict claims (Emery 1961, Edwards 1971, David 1998 for example) that a Middle Eastern Dynastic Race swept into Egypt early on to give it civilization.[110] Serious foreign invasions did not occur until much later in the dynastic era. Certain periods however, such as the New Kingdom era, were to see Egyptian hegemony expand beyond its limited beginnings, and pharaonic armies ranged extensively in the Middle East- from Lebanon to the Euphrates. Propagandistic inscriptions referring to "slaying of Asiatic trodlodytes" and "wretched Asiatics" are typical of many ancient pharaonic records describing these operations.[111]) These campaigns, the period of Hyksos rule, trade contacts, informal immigration, and foreign invasions all contributed to the population mix and flow over time as the centuries of Egyptian civilization continued. Persians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs also added to the later mix towards the end of the dynastic period.


Comparisons of Near/Middle Eastern peopling scenarios versus African-origin peopling of the Nile Valley. Berry and Ucko (1967) combined Egyptian series from several locales and time periods, creating a single "Egyptian" series, and found it to be closer to an African series used for comparison than a Palestinian series. Other studies like Berry and Berry (1972) cluster Egyptians closer to each other than any other group, but find some similarities with Asian Indians, which in turn share similarities with West African datasets. In a  1993 review of the literature Keita (1993) found that: "When the unlikely relationships [Indian matches] and eliminated, the Egyptian series are more similar ''overall'' to other African series than to European or Near Eastern (Byzantine or Palestinian) series." [97a] 

Limb ratio studies of Trinkhaus (1981) plotted Egyptian datasets near tropical Africans, not Mediterranean Europeans, confirming observations almost a century old by Warren (1897). Robins and Shute (1983, 1986) evaluated predynastic and dynastic limb ratios finding strong correlation with Negroid datasets (super-negroid in their terminology), and noted a Negroid ratio in a sample of New Kingdom dynastic remains. Some older scholarship argued for almost total replacement of native Nubian and Egyptian populations by Caucasoids from the north. Keita (1993) argues that this finding is inconsistent with the preponderance of most studies in the field, which show no proof of mass replacement, and that elements like dental changes could be due to routine natural selection. The limb ratio, cranio-facial studies indicate a metric continuity from very early times (the late paleolithic) through the dynastic periods.[97a] As his exhaustive review of numerous studies in the area concludes:

"Overall, when the Egyptian crania are evaluated in a Near Eastern (Lachish) versus African (Kerma, Kebel Moya, Ashanti) context) the affinity is with the Africans. The Sudan and Palestine are the most appropriate comparative regions which would have 'donated' people, along with the Sahara and maghreb. Archaeology validates looking to these regions for population flow (see Hassan 1988)... Egyptian groups showed less overall affinity to Palestinian and Byzantine remains than to other African series, especially Sudanese."[97a]

The Sahara and adjacent deserts in Nile Valley peopling

The Nabata Playa and climate-driven migration into the Nile Valley. The once fertile Sahara stretches in a belt from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. As noted above, fluctuating climate cycles acted as a "pump", pushing people from the south up towards the wetter, more fertile Nile Valley, or down, to zones of similar likeness. The Nabta Playa (lake) Basin is on the edge of the Western Desert of Egypt is also another source of Nile Valley peopling. Nabta Playa os located some 62 miles from Abu Simbel and some 60 miles west of the Nile, near the Sudanese border. with The basin shows evidence of a culture marked by growing sophiscation, including deep wells for water access, and "the emergence of a regional ceremonial center with megalithic alignments, stone circles, cattle burials, and other large-scale constructions."[112] Such constructions included carved megaliths tied to religious motifs around 5000 BC. Climate change made the area arid again and some scholars hold that this forced peoples of the region to migrate to the wetter Nile Valley, with subsequent effects on the development of Egyptian civilization.[113]

According to archaeologist F. Wendorf, who excavated the region, the legacy of the ancient peoples "is seen in the "prominence of cattle in the religious belief system of Pre-dynastic Egypt continuing into the Old Kingdom." Wendorf argues that the presence of domesticated cattle is likely an indigenous development based on mtDNA analysis of wild stocks, and that the excavation of indigenous grains- sorghums and millets, along with other plants, along with the absence of Southwest Asian domesticates, indicates a measure of indigenous development in place. The climate driven move into Egypt by these ancient desert dwellers, it is held, may have been:

"a critical factor in the rise of social complexity and the subsequent emergence of the Egyptian state in Upper Egypt (Hoffman 1979; Hassan 1988). If so, Egypt owes a major debt to those early pastoral groups in the Sahara; they may have provided Egypt with many of those features that still distinguish it from its neighbors to the east."

Wendorf holds that a Saharan origin must be balanced with other data such as cattle rearing, since there are a number of the unique elements which did not carryover to the Nile Valley, including extensive megaliths. Nevertheless he maintains, "One of the fascinating aspects of the evidence for the working of large stones is that it seems to anticipate later Egyptian developments." [114]

Evidence of early cultural practices in the Saharan zone. The Libyan desert area, particularly around the Fezzan, also shows a range of physical types. Of note is the mummified form of a Negro child, dated to around 3000 B.C, discovered at the Uan Muhuggiag rock shelter by a team of Italian archaeologists. What makes this skeleton interesting is that it is so well preserved that it challenges the notion that the Egyptians were the original pioneers of mummification. The Italian excavation suggests that many practices associated with Egypt, may have already been established on an indigenous basis in the areas adjoining the Nile Valley, prior to the rise of the Egyptian dynasties. [115] This finding is consistent with the general pattern noted above- the appearance of long-standing cultural and skeletal elements from a variety of indigenous peoples, in the areas close to Egypt. It is also consistent with a movement of peoples, up from the Saharan Zone into the Nile Valley, as noted by Afrocentric critic Mary Leftkowitz. The presence of numerous artistic motifs from Saharan rock art, found in later Egyptian iconography and use, (Wilkinson 1999) also lends support to the long-standing cultural sharing and linkages between Egypt and the surrounding Saharan cultures.[116]

Genetic linkages of Egyptians to other ancient Saharan populations. A number of studies link the ancient Egyptians to the ancient Saharans. According to Keita (1990) and Livingstone (1967), the Haratin are among the major descendants of the original Saharans. Close similarity in ABO serology between modern Haratin populations and those of ancient Egyptians was also shown by G. Paoli, ("ABO Typing of Ancient Egyptians" IN _Population biology of ancient Egyptians_, edited by D.R. Brothwell and B.A. Chiarelli, London, New York, 1973, p. 464.) Frequencies on some "q" gene elements by both peoples were almost twice those in typically European populations. (Montagu, A. _Introduction to Physical Anthropology_ 1960, p. 334). The Haratin are considered to be "Negroid" in physical type (Livingstone, 1967). Other serological tests have shown close affinity of certain Berber-speaking groups with tropical Africans in the high rates of cDe, P and V, and low Fy^a antigens(Keita 1990, Mourant et al., 1976, Chamla, 1980). They also group close with West Africans in the high incidence of HbC, HbS and the sickle cell condition (Livingstone, 1967). S.O.Y. KEITA, "Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa", AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 83:35-48 (1990)[10]

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Nubia in Nile Valley peopling

Race and the Nubians. Like the rest of the Nile Valley peoples, Nubians show a range of physical variability that make it problematic to carve them up into racially assigned zones. According to mainstream archaeologist and anthropologist Bruce Trigger:

"The people of Nubia are an indigenous African population, whose physical characteristics are part of a continuum of physical variation in the Nile Valley. This population has occupied the middle portion of the Nile Valley throughout recorded history and probably for much longer. There is no evidence to suggest that it is as a result of a mixing of different racial stocks." (Bruce Trigger, 'Nubian, Negro, Black, Nilotic?', in Sylvia Hochfield and Elizabeth Riefstahl (eds), Africa in Antiquity: the arts of Nubia and the Sudan, Vol. 1 (New York, Brooklyn Museum, 1978) [117]

Nubia and the early Egyptian state. Nubia also figures in the archealogical research of scholar Bruce Williams, who along with other writers, suggest a Nubian influence underlying the establishment of the Egyptian state.[118] Most scholars see limited evidence of Nubian statebuilding in the further north (Lower Egypt),[119] but Williams focuses on the south, based on the initial predominant influence of the south, closest to Nubia, and various cultural linkages with the south such as discovery of the Qustul incense burner and of a city at Kerma dating back to 4,500 BCE.[120]

A number of scholars demonstrate that the ancient Egyptians were closely related to Nilo/Sudanic peoples like Nubians, sharing substantial genetic admixture, and cultural elements such as the pharonic structure (Keita 1992, Krings et al. 1999, Williams 1999, Yurco, 1989).[121] Some research links these relationships as extending not simply to ordinary farmers, pastorialists or hunter-gathers but to elite stations as well. One such study for example shows the presence of individual rulers buried in high-status Egyptian sites at Naqada, and that these persons were more related morphologically to populations in Northern Nubia, than those in Southern Egypt.[122] The recent excavations of Swiss archealogist Charles Bonnet also confirm the linkages between Nubia and Egypt via excavations at Kerma (Charles Bonnet and Dominique Valbelle, The Nubian Pharaohs).[123]

A number of writers dispute any claim that the Nubian kings were responsible for the genesis of the Egyptian monarchies that followed.[124] Williams however notes that his research advanced no claim of a Nubian origin or genesis for the pharonic monarchy. Instead he holds that the archaeological data shows Nubian linkages and influence in helping to "fashion pharaonic civilization." Such data includes detailed excavations of the burial place of the Nubian rulers with date stamps well before the historical First Dynasty of Egypt. The size and wealth of the tombs were also vastly greater than that of the well-known Abydos tombs in Egypt.[125]

Nubian- Egyptian differentation based primarily on political not racial context. Mainstream Egyptologists such as F. Yurco note that among foreign peoples, the Nubians were closest ethnically to the Egyptians, shared the same culture in the predynastic period, and used the same pharaonic political structure. [126] This is confirmed by a wealth of data on hand as noted above, making problematic various attempts to portray Nubia and its peoples as primarily foreign migrants, or to portray Nubia as an isolated backwater of Egypt useful primarily as an area of conquest.[127] The relationship between Nubia and Egypt was complex, involving military raids, expeditions and conquest by the Egyptians, subjugation in turn of Egypt by Nubia based kings, pharaohs of Nubian origin, trade interactions and cultural influence both ways from the earliest times and down through the centuries. According to Williams, attempts to downplay data from the Nubian excavations "arbitrarily dismiss important bodies of evidence, [and] belong to an age when broad assumptions of 'cultural retardation' went unchallenged."[128] Scholar Bruce Trigger holds that given the widespread employment of Nubians as warriors, and the close relations between the two peoples, some boastful claims of conquest put forth by Egyptian kings make mask a more mundane reality- that of Egyptian rulers sending forces to fight alonside Nubian allies in localized political struggles.[129]

A 1999 DNA study on gene flow[130] as noted above, confirms the genetic linkages between Egypt and Nubia, and affirms Yurco's observation as to the ethnic closeness and political rather than racial differentiation between Egyptians and Nubians. These data and historical background call into question assertions by some classicist historians (Snowden, Vermeule, et al) that suggest 'racial' wars between Nubians and Egyptians or high degrees of 'racial' differences between them.[131]Ironically noting that war between ethnically related neighboring European nations like France and Germany is not considered 'racial' war, one mainstream anthropologist confirms Yurco, stating: "the antagonisms between Kush and Egypt were political and not racial."[132] The DNA analysis also confirms the observation that the peoples of the Nile Valley were one population continuity,[133] sharing not only culture but genes that flowed up and down the Nile.


Continuity of Nile Valley populations into the state building period

Continuity of Nile valley populations over extended periods

Some current dental studies of ancient Egyptians as a whole over the millennia show continuity between early racial or cultural types peopling Egypt, well into the dynastic period, and show that these peoples had a wide range of characteristics including Nubian, Saharan, and Nilotic. A 2006 dental study of ancient Egyptians for example, groups them with other Africans more than European populations such as Greeks, or Western Asians. Indeed, the study examined a key native group, the Badarians, and not only found continuity into others like the Naqada but that they were a "good representative of what the common ancestor to all later predynastic and dynastic Egyptian peoples would be like." The dental results also showed that:

" "A comparison of Badari to the Naqada and Hierakonpolis samples.. contradicts the idea of a foreign origin for the Naqada.. Evidence in favor of continuity is also demonstrated by comparison of individual samples. Naqada and especially Hierakonpolis share close affinities with First–Second Dynasty Abydos.. These findings do not support the concept of a foreign dynastic ‘‘race’’... Thus, despite increasing foreign influence after the Second Intermediate Period, not only did Egyptian culture remain intact (Lloyd, 2000a), but the people themselves, as represented by the dental samples, appear biologically constant as well."

  [134]  

Continuity is also affirmed by S. Keita who notes a clustering with tropical Africans further south, as to the Badari, a group excluded by C.L. Brace in his 1993 study. As analyzed by Keita:

"Badari (8) occupies a position closest to the Teita, Gaboon, Nubian, and Nagada series by centroid values and territorial maps. The Nagada and Kerma series are so similar that they are barely distinguishable in the territorial maps; they subsume the the first dynasty series from Abydos. .. The European series stands in notable isolation by centroid score (Tables 2B, 3B, 4B) from African series...5). The Badarian crania have a modal metric phenotype that is clearly “southern”; most classify into the Kerma (Nubian), Gaboon, and Kenyan groups.."

The dental findings as to no proof of any mass influx of Europeans and other foreigners are also confirmed by Keita's further study of the Badari:

" "An examination of the distance hierarchies reveals the Badarian series to be more similar to the Teita in both analyses and always more similar to all of the African series than to the Norse and Berg groups (see Tables 3A & 3B and Figure 2)... The Badarian series clusters with the tropical African groups no matter which algorithm is employed (see Figures 3 and 4).. In none of them did the Badarian sample affiliate with the European series."(S.O.Y. Keita. Early Nile Valley Farmers from El-Badari: Aboriginals or "European" Agro-Nostratic Immigrants? Craniometric Affinities Considered With Other Data. Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 36 No. 2, pp. 191-208 (2005)

Such modern analytical studies make sweeping genetic claims of outside influence problematic. The issue of continuity with past Egyptian racial stocks has also been raised in older scholarship since the 1960s. One older 1967 study (Berry, Ucko et al.) for example concluded that at no time did any non-Egyptian group provide a significant change to the Egyptian gene pool for the length of the Pharaonic monarchy.,[135] The pattern of continuity repeats itself when modern populations are considered, most notably the case of the fellahin in Egypt, which are referenced as an indicator of a more ancient genetic strand associated with Negroid or Sudanic/Saharan influences.

"In Libya, which is mostly desert and oasis, there is a visible Negroid element in the sedentary populations, and at the same is true of the Fellahin of Egypt, whether Copt or Muslim. Osteological studies have shown that the Negroid element was stronger in predynastic times than at present, reflecting an early movement northward along the banks of the Nile, which were then heavily forested." (Encyclopedia Britannica 1974 and 1982 eds. "Populations, Human")[136]  

DNA studies of the B-M60 marker, also confirm the ancient heritage of the Copts in peopling Egypt, a heritage deriving from early Nilotics:

"The Copt samples displayed a most interesting Y-profile, enough (as much as that of Gaalien in Sudan) to suggest that they actually represent a living record of the peopling of Egypt. The significant frequency of B-M60 in this group might be a relic of a history of colonization of southern Egypt probably by Nilotics in the early state formation, something that conforms both to recorded history and to Egyptian mythology." (Hassan, et al. (2008). Y-chromosome variation among Sudanese)
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Continuity extends into dynastic period of kingship and nation building

This continuity holds into the early dynastic period, in that elements from the South, (a region closer to the Sahara and the Sudan), brought about the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, ushering in the early Egyptian dynasties. This union is of monumental significance in Egyptian history, and was considered as such by the Egyptians themselves. It does not appear to be a crude tribal polity awaiting inspiration from Mediterranean or Near Eastern outsiders, as asserted by the now discredited Dynastic Race Theory. Union provided a stable umbrella that helped shape the creative and productive energies of their civilization for millennia to come. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1984 ed. Egypt, History of," p. 464-65) [137]

A 2007 study of cranial data indicates that "overall population continuity over the Predynastic and early Dynastic, and high levels of genetic heterogeneity, thereby suggesting that state formation occurred as a mainly indigenous process."[138]

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Regional continuity in establishing the early dynasties

Cultural weight of the south. The consensus among Egyptologists is that the south (Upper Egypt), achieved ascendacy over Lower Egypt (the Delta/north,) to usher in the well-known Egyptian dynastic period.[139] The exact nature of the unification is still a matter of ongoing research, but the northern culture does not appear to be as elaborated as that of the south as regards conditions near the establishment of the dynastic civilization. According to the mainstream Cambridge History of Africa: "While not attempting to underestimate the contribution that Deltaic political and religious institutions made to those of a united Egypt, many Egyptologists now discount the idea that a united prehistoric kingdom of Lower Egypt ever existed."[140] Archaeological data shows some contact between the two regions over time.[141] For example, a special type of vessel supported by four modelled human feet is also found in the Amratian culture of the south. Burial customs also show some similarity with practices in Upper Egypt, (bodies for example were generally laid on their left side, head south, in the sites surrounding Merimda, similar to Upper Egyptian practice), although Merimda itself contained few grave goods.[142] Nevertheless the southern culture seems to have gained the upper hand in the era of the early dynasty. According to the Cambridge History of Africa:

"While communities such as Ma'adi appear to have played an important role in entrepots through which goods and ideas form south-west Asia filtered into the Nile Valley in later prehistoric times, the main cultural and political tradition that gave rise to the cultural pattern of Early Dynastic Egypt is to be found not in the north but in the south."[143]

Gradual formation of the nation-state from earlier developments. State formation in the ancient Nile Valley does not appear to have taken the sudden form suggested by the influx or inspiration of a Dynastic Mediterranean or Mesopotamian race. Instead material evidence indicates that the indigenous peoples evolved the state gradually, in a slowly phased process suggesting a degree of regional integration well before the 1st Dynasty. These phases involved the emergence of dispersed kingdoms both in Egypt (Kaiser and Dreyer 1982) and possibly in Nubia (Williams 1987), with some scholars suggesting up to ten indigenous rulers in place before the 1st Dynasty. (Kaiser and Dreyer 1982)[144] Such continuity confirms the forensic data of Zakrzewski (2007) and others noted above, and provides further evidence of the indigenous genesis of the pharaonic state. The continuity of this state was to be longer than any Asiatic or Western one.[145]

Language as a way to classify Nile Valley Egyptian peoples

Demise of Hamitic hypothesis. The use of linguistics as a basis for racial categorization has also drawn challenges and criticisms. The demise of the famous "Hamitic Hypothesis", which purported to show that certain African languages around the Nile area could be associated with "Caucasoid" peoples is a typical case. Such schemes fell apart when it was demonstrated that Negro tribes far distant also spoke similar languages, tongues that were supposedly a reserved marker of Caucasoid presence or influence.[146]  

Language and the movement of material culture. Older linguistic classifications are also linked to the notion of a "Hamitic race", a vague grouping thought to exclude Negroes, but accommodating a large variety of dark skinned North and East Africans into a broad-based Caucasoid grouping. This Caucasoid "Hamitic race" is sometimes credited with the introduction of more advanced culture, such as certain plant cultivation and particularly the domestication of cattle. This scheme has also been discredited by the work of post WWII archaeologists such as A. Arkell, who demonstrated that predynastic and Sudanic Negroid elements already possessed cattle and plant domestication, thousands of years before the supposed influx of Caucasoid or Hamitic settlers into the Nile Valley, Nubia and adjoining areas.[147]

Historian Christopher Ehret, a language specialist, points to the archaeological work of Wendorf et. al. as supporting Arkell, suggesting that "the peoples of the steppes and grasslands to the immediate south of Egypt domesticated cattle, as early as 9000 to 8000 B.C. They included peoples from the Afro-Asiastic linguistic group and the second major African language family, Nilo-Saharan (Wendorf, Schild, Close 1984; Wendorf, et al. 1982). Thus the earliest domestic cattle may have come to Egypt from these southern neighbors, circa 6000 B.C., and not from the Middle East.[148] Pottery, another significant advance in material cultural may also have followed this pattern, initiatied "as early as 9000 B.C. by the Nilo-Saharans and Afrasians who lived to the south of Egypt. Soon thereafter, pots spread to Egyptian sites, almost 2,000 years before the first pottery was made in the Middle East."[149]

Since Egypt belongs in the same temperate climate zone as adjacent areas of the Middle East, key domestic animals such as sheep and goats also flowed from more easterly areas as well as domestic plants. Along with these domesticates were those from the Sudanic regions as well. "Several notable early Egyptian crops came from Sudanic agriculture, independently invented between 7500 and 6000 B.C. by the Nilo-Saharan peoples (Ehret 1993:104-125). One such cultivated crop was the edible gourd. The botanical evidence is confirmed in this case by linguistics: Egyptian bdt, or "bed of gourds" (Late Egyptian bdt, "gourd; cucumber"), is a borrowing of the Nilo-Saharan word *bud, "edible gourd." Other early Egyptian crops of Sudanic origin included watermelons and castor beans."[150]

Linguistic writing systems and population movements. The southern area of the Nile Valley not only produced advanced material culture and political organization but also pioneered in the advancement of learning and communication via writing, contradicting claims of an outside Mediterranean or Mesopotamian influx responsible for such developments. In 1998 a German archaeological team under scholar Günter Dreyer, head of the German Archaeological Institute, excavated tombs associated with the Naqada culture and retrieved hundreds of clay artifacts inscribed with proto-hieroglyphs, dating to the 33rd century BC.[151] Of Dreyer's finds, Archaeology Magazine states that they "...challenge the commonly held belief that early logographs, pictographic symbols representing a specific place, object, or quantity, first evolved into more complex phonetic symbols in Mesopotamia."[152]

The early examples appear to have been building blocks for later development into the full complex of hieroglyphs for inscribing the ancient Egyptian language,[153] showing a measure of continuity into the period of the pharaohs. According to Dreyer, these continuities provide evidence that the writing used later by Egyptian kingships developed gradually in the native environment. "Most of them are documents, records of linen and oil delivered to the King Scorpion, taxes, short notes, numbers, lists of kings' names, and names of institutions.. The writing is in the form of line drawings of animals, plants and mountains and is the earliest evidence that hieroglyphics used by later-day Pharaonic dynasties did not rise as phoenix from the ashes but developed gradually.. Although the Egyptian writing is in the form of symbols it can be called true writing because each symbol stands for a consonant and makes up syllables. In principle Ancient Egyptians were able to express themselves clearly.."[154] According to mainstream Egyptologist Kent Weeks, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, Dreyer's data suggests "one of the greatest discoveries in history of writing and ancient Egyptian culture."[155]

Dreyer has moved beyond his early findings to pose a separate, speculative hypothesis- that the Egyptians were the first in the world to develop systematic writing as opposed to the commonly held view that the Mesopotamians did.[156] Some Egyptian archaeology authorities appear to support Dreyer's hypothesis of Egyptian primacy. According to a 1999 statement by one Gaballa Ali Gaballa, secretary-general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities: "The earliest known Sumerian writings date back to 3000BC while the German team's find shows that Abydos inscriptions date to 3400BC. The first Pharaonic dynasty began in 2920BC with King Menes. The earliest known writing in Dynasty Zero is much earlier than the oldest writing discovered in Mesopotamia." [157]

A number of Egyptologists disagree with this conclusion,[158], but the presence of the ancient writings from very early times provides yet more evidence against the notion of a "Dynastic Race" sweeping into the Nile Valley to give the natives advanced culture like writing. Rather the evidence indicates the opposite, and emphasizes the primarily indigenous nature of Egyptian civilization.

Language similarities among the Nilotic peoples. Modern scholarship has moved away from earlier notions of a "Hamitic" race speaking Hamito-Semitic languages, and places the Egyptian language in a more localized context, centered around its general Saharan and Nilotic roots.(F. Yurco "An Egyptological Review", 1996)[159] Linguistic analysis (Diakanoff 1998) places most of the origin of the Afro-Asiatic languages wholly within Africa, primarily in the southeastern Sahara or adjacent Horn of Africa, with Semitic groupings straddling the Nile Delta and Sinai.[160]

Other recent research demonstrates several African languages that share features with Egyptian, such as the Chadic languages of west and central Africa, the Cushitic languages of northeast Africa, and the Semitic languages of Ethiopia and Eritrea.[161] Acceptance of an African origin for the Afro-Asiatic language grouping (of which ancient Egyptian is a part) is widespread among most mainstream scholars.[162]

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Cultural linkages as a way to classify populations of Nile Valley Egypt

Cultural and religious linkages between Egypt and the Sahara and Sudan

Questions of cultural linkages between Ancient Egypt and black Africa revolve around multiple strands of data- from implements used in daily life, to religious practices. Some Afrocentric writers such as Cheikh_Anta_Diop assert cultural and material ties from Egypt stretching across the continent, arguing that they provide a building block for viewing the Ancient Egyptians as racially "black."[163] Other writers argue that the many writers in the European academy continue to understate or distort African physical diversity and civilizations.[164]

A number of mainstream scholars dispute Afrocentric views on Egyptian ethnicity but in turn have moved away from older outside race or civilizer theories (See Trigger above) and acknowledge that the Egyptians had linkages with a variety of cultures, including the Levant and particularly their neighbors to the south, i.e. 'Black' Africa.

Older research on cultural linkages with sub-Saharan Africa confirmed by newer studies

Mainstream anthropologist and DNA researcher S. Keita sums up much of the older evidence showing the linkages between Egypt and 'black' Africa, noting that contrary to discredited white civilizer theories and their variants, many of the cultural elements associated with Egypt originated in the Sudanic-Saharan areas of said 'black' Africa. Much of this evidence appears in older scholarship, long before Afrocentrism became popular or widely controversial, and is confirmed in modern re-analyses. The data are summarized below:[165]:

  • Specific central African tool designs found at the well known Naqada, Badari and Fayum archaeological sites in Egypt (de Heinzelin 1962, Arkell and Ucko, 1956 et al). Shaw (1976) states that "the early cultures of Merimde, the Fayum, Badari Naqada I and II are essentially African and early African social customs and religious beliefs were the root and foundation of the ancient Egyptian way of life."
  • Pottery evidence first seen in the Saharan Highlands then spreading to the Nile Valley (Flight 1973).
  • Art motifs of Saharan rock paintings showing similarities to those in pharaonic art. A number of scholars suggest that these earlier artistic styles influenced later pharaonic art via Saharans leaving drier areas and moving into the Nile Valley taking their art styles with them (Mori 1964, Blanc 1964, et al)
  • Earlier pioneering mummification outside Egypt. The oldest mummy in Africa is of a black Saharan child (Donadoni 1964, Blanc 1964) Frankfort (1956) suggests that it is thus possible to understand the pharaonic worldview by reference to the religious beliefs of these earlier African precursors. Attempts to suggest the root of such practices are due to Caucasoid civilizers from elsewhere are thus contradicted by the data on the ground.
  • Several cultural practices of Egypt show strong similarities to an African totemic clan base. Childe (1969, 1978), Aldred (1978) and Strouhal (1971) demonstrate linkages with several African practices such as divine kingship and the king as divine rainmaker.
  • Physical similarities of the early Nile valley populations with that of tropical Africans. Such connections are demonstrated in the work of numerous scholars such as Thompson and Randall Mclver 1905, Falkenburger 1947, and Strouhal 1971. The distance diagrams of Mukherjee, Rao and Trevor (1955) place the ancient Badarians genetically near 'black' tribes such as the Ashanti and the Taita. See also the "Issues of lumping under Mediterranean clusters" section above for similar older analyses.
  • Serological (blood) evidence of genetic linkages. Paoli 1972 for example found a significant resemblance between ABO frequencies of dynastic Egyptians and the black northern Haratin who are held to be the probable descendants of the original Saharans (Hiernaux, 1975).
  • Language similarities which include several hundred roots ascribable to African elements (UNESCO 1974)
  • Ancient Egyptian origin stories ascribing origins of the gods and their ancestors to African locations to the south and west of Egypt (Davidson 1959)
  • Advanced state building and political unity in Nubia, including writing, administrative apparatus and insignia some 300 years before dynastic Egypt, and the long demonstrated interchange between Nubia and Egypt (Williams 1980)

Newer studies (Wendorf 2001, Wilkinson 1999, et al.) confirm these older analyses. Excavations from Nabta Playa, located about 100km west of Abu Simbel for example, suggest that the Neolithic inhabitants of the region were migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, based on cultural similarities and social complexity which is thought to be reflective of Egypt's Old Kingdom[166]Other scholars (Wilkinson 1999) present similar material and cultural evidence- including similarities between predynastic Egypt and traditional African cattle-culture, typical of Southern Sudanese and East African pastoralists of today, and various cultural and artistic data such as iconography on rock art found in both Egypt and in the Sudan.[167]

Recent data from other research suggests numerous trade contacts between the Nile Valley peoples from early times. The excavations of German archaeologist Gunter Dreyer (1999) at Predynastic Abydos for example unearthed obsidian bowls, a material traced to the nearby Sudan or Ethiopia. Excavations at Hierakonpolis by archaeologist Renee Friedman (1998) also demonstrates ritual masks similar to those used further south of Egypt, and significant amounts of obsidian, also traced to Ethiopian quarry sites.[168]. As regards population types and origins, one contemporary review of older evidence acknowledges that "the ancient Egyptians, especially southern Egyptians, exhibited physical characteristics that are within the range of variation for ancient and modern indigenous peoples of the Sahara and tropical Africa."[169]

Religious practices and population classifications

Southern affinities of some Egyptian religion. Various cultural and religious practices in particular seem to show greater affinity with that of the peoples or northeast Africa, rather than the Mediterranean or Mesopotamia. These include numerous animal gods, the king as chief ritualist, the king's mother, ritual/ceremonial dresses, and regicide.

Encyclopedia Britannica 1984 ed. Macropedia Article, Vol 6: "Egyptian Religion" , pg 506-508
"A large number of gods go back to prehistoric times. The images of a cow and star goddess (Hathor), the falcon (Horus), and the human-shaped figures of the fertility god (Min) can be traced back to that period. Some rites, such as the "running of the Apil-bull," the "hoeing of the ground," and other fertility and hunting rites (e.g., the hippopotamus hunt) presumably date from early times.. Connections with the religions in southwest Asia cannot be traced with certainty."
"It is doubtful whether Osiris can be regarded as equal to Tammuz or Adonis, or whether Hathor is related to the "Great Mother." There are closer relations with northeast African religions. The numerous animal cults (especially bovine cults and panther gods) and details of ritual dresses (animal tails, masks, grass aprons, etc) probably are of African origin. The kinship in particular shows some African elements, such as the king as the head ritualist (i.e., medicine man), the limitations and renewal of the reign (jubilees, regicide), and the position of the king's mother (a matriarchal element). Some of them can be found among the Ethiopians in Napata and Meroe, others among the Prenilotic tribes (Shilluk)."[170]

Egyptian religion and an African substratum involving cattle. Frankfort (1978) in his study of Egyptian and Mesopotamian religions and political systems argued that the Egyptian belief system arose from an East African substratum and was not introduced from Mesopotamia.[171] Central to indigenous development was cattle as one central focus of the beleif systems of the Old Kingdom. Concepts such as defication of cattle, a cow as the "mother of the sun" or the Egyptian pharaoh as a god (rather than an intermediary to the gods as in Mesopotamia), suggest strong native roots in the Nile Valley and East Africa rather than an outside influx. The pharoah as sons of Horus, who was in turn son of Hathor the cow goddess, dpictionso f Horus as a strong bull, the images of bulls in many depictions of the stars, dead pharaohs sometimes being described as 'the Bull of Heaven' and the Old Kingdom concept of Min, the god of rain, who is associated with a whitle bull and to whom the annual harvest is dedicated all indicate connections with indigenous predynastic cultures, with little significant need for outside influence from Mesopotamia or elsewhere to shape their development. [172]


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Theories of outside dynastic races in Nile Valley development

If therefore, ancient Egypt had a number of cultural similarities and links, with the Saharan or Sudanic tribes, the notion of sweeping invasions by Caucasoids as a source for civilized developments is questionable. Data suggests that numerous material and religious elements unique to Egyptian civilization were already in place, forming a basis for the rise of more elaborate cultural developments, as opposed to having them substantially introduced by outsiders from the Mediterranean or elsewhere. Indeed the early dynastic kingdoms of Egypt saw the accession of peoples from the South, bordering the Saharan and Sudanic regions, with the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt traditionally credited to Menes. This does not displace the influences or trade from Mesopotamia, which can been clearly seen in trade artifacts, nor does it mean other influences or indeed peoples were not present. Modern archaeology has shown a significant trade of goods, ideas, and even people throughout Egypt, the Levant, and Mesopotamia, as well as the Saharan and Sudanic zones.[173][174] Scholar Robert July also shows such linkages, but holds that outside influences appear to have had little significant impact on the early development of Egyptian civilization.[175] A more recent survey (see Yurco above) sums up the consensus in the field: [176]

"In summary we may say that Egypt was a distinct North African culture rooted in the Nile Valley and on the Sahara. The dynastic race theory has been shown to be an outdated myth generated by the "Aryan Model."

A related diffusion theory holds that horticulture and Afro-Asiatic languages were brought from southern Europe into early Egypt. Analysis of ancient Badarian remains however demonstrates that they share greater affinity to indigenous Africans than with Europeans, while not being identical, suggesting greater affiliation with local and native African populations than with distant southern Europeans. In this analysis, domesticated plants and animals from the Near East were adapted by indigenous Nile Valley peoples as part of normal trade and cultural transfer without any major immigration of non-Africans.[177] Other conservative mainstream analyses compare pre-dynastic cultures in Lower Egypt (further north towards the Mediterranean/Near East) with those in Upper Egypt (further south towards the Nubian/Sudanic regions). Contrary to what would be expected under theories of advanced Caucasoid, Asiatic, Mediterranean, Near Eastern or European influence, (see Yurco note above), the early Egyptian state had its cultural origins in the south, as compared to a more northerly or eastern direction.[178]

Cultural similarities and diffusionist theories

The unique nature of many Egyptian cultural patterns also calls into question sweeping notions of a unified Egyptian umbrella or cultural set from Cape to Cairo.[179], Just as alleged "Caucasoid" or "Mediterranean" invasions do not define Egyptian civilization, neither do things like Egyptian funerary practices or kingships define the Khosians of Southern Africa or the Bantu of Central Africa. Any cultural similarities may be the result of a common African origin, and any achievements, indigenous, rather than the result of Egyptian influence. Some diffussionist theories, such as, Egyptian influence being the basis for mettalurgy practiced in West Africa, have proven to be fallacious as the practice therein has been found to have predated that of the Nile Valley.[180] Further, both areas were peopled by populations in the Sahara that migrated when the Sahara entered its most recent dry phase; the Sahara hasn't always been a vast desert.[181] Afrocentric critic Mary Leftkowiz argues that sweeping claims of Egyptian influence across the board have their origin in white esoterics, Free Masons and mystics concerned with Egyptian religious practices, particularly the Egyptian Mystery System.[182]

Visual images and Nile Valley Egyptian populations

Diversity of visual representations and Egyptian uniqueness

The Egyptians quite clearly distinguished between non-Egyptian peoples like Nubians or Phoenicians and themselves in visual imagery, suggesting they viewed themselves as a unique people apart from other nations.[183] Categories as "Mediterranean," "Middle Eastern," "Caucasian," or "Negro" do not capture or define what these ancient peoples thought. According to Egyptologist, Frank J. Yurco, the Egyptians distinguished "in political terms, not in racial terms. Foreigners were labeled by their regional or political names, and were depicted with distinctive features and dress.." The ancients did not view race in the same manner in which people of the modern era view it.[184] Records of literature and sculpture show:

"characteristics that also can be found in the Horn of (East) Africa (see, e.g., Petrie 1939; Drake 1987; Keita 1993). Old and Middle Kingdom statuary shows a range of characteristics; many, if not most, individuals depicted in the art have variations on the narrow-nosed, narrow-faced morphology also seen in various East Africans. This East African anatomy, once seen as being the result of a mixture of different "races," is better understood as being part of the range of indigenous African variation.[185]

Use of stereotypical 'true types' in Nile Valley population imagery

Representative 'true' types. Some writers argue that the visual imagery often used to represent certain Nile Valley peoples typically follows a "true type" methodology- identifying the most dark-skinned types and labeling them as "Nubian" or "black" and then splitting off the rest and assigning them to other categories. These can thence be identified as more closely related to "Oriental", "Asian," "Mediterranean", or "Middle Eastern" colorations. Such stereotyping methods it is held, create an artificial racial separation between the ancient peoples, and fail to show their true diversity. It is argued that no similar attempt is made to identify a 'true' Asiatic, or Caucasoid type and run the color comparison the other way.[186] Under this line of reasoning, attempts to say peoples like the ancient Egyptians were 'neither black or white' sound commendably neutral in theory- but in practice - all too often airbrush dark-skinned peoples out of the picture by defining them away as 'foreign' or somewhere 'south', while readily embracing comparisons with any other light-skinned peoples under various labels like "Near Eastern" - subtle code for "Caucasoid."[187]

Imagery showing native population diversity. Contemporary approaches to Nile Valley visual imagery are more balanced that earlier methods. Scholar Frank Yurco for example (F. J. Yurco, 'Were the ancient Egyptians black or white?', Biblical Archaeology Review (Vol 15, no. 5, 1989)[188]notes than the ancient Nile Valley peoples, including the ancient Egyptians as such were a diverse lot with a range of skin colors and facial features. Coloration seen in paintings often followed the artistic conventions of the day, such as yellowish-skin when depicting women. Depictions shows a mix of types even among the elite classes. He suggests that some Middle Kingdom pharaohs, particularly some of the XII (12th) Dynasty show strong Nubian features, having a background in the Aswan region of southern Egypt. This dynasty ranks among the greatest of Egypt. He identifies the pharaoh Seqenenre (see below) as also having Nubian features, saying he was a distant relation of Nefertiti.[189]

Diversity in Nubian imagery. Nubians are sometimes depicted as very dark foreigners in some Egyptian imagery, but other depictions show brown- skinned types the same shade as in imagery of Egyptians. The tomb of Huy for example shows a mixture of Nubian skin colorations. They are identified as Nubian not because of skin color per se, but their geographic origin, and distinctive items of dress such as panther skins, and hair styles. As noted by Yurco above, dark skin shades were part of the built-in mix of diverse native types, not a foreign add-on. A dark skin shade is thus not synonymous with 'foreign.' Whatever the foreigners looked like as they moved about Egypt was a separate matter that did not change this reality.[190] Representations of the visual imagery of ancient Nubians (see mainstream publications such as Africa in Antiquity: The Arts of Ancient Nubia),[191] indicate that they did not see themselves as a single 'type', but depict a full range of both color and physical variability. [192] These depictions of a diverse population call into question methods that attempt to label dark-skinned people as "foreign", or to assert rigid "representative" colorations or typologies of various Nile Valley peoples in terms of visual imagery.[193]

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

Visual images and the case of the Pharaoh Seqenenre

While much popular attention has been paid to Tut and other icons such as Nefertiti, the case of the pharaoh Seqenenre has attracted the attention of some mainstream scholars. Over 200 years before Tut, Seqenenre Tao II was a king of Egypt who according to tradition clashed with the West Asian/Semitic Hyksos invaders that had overrun much of the country. He was forced to live in the South, while the Hyksos dominated the north- Lower Egypt. As regards portraiture, mainstream scholars note the wide range of variability indicated by Seqenenre:

"Cephalometric work on Old and New Kingdom remains demonstrates variability in the ancient period, as noted in observations by Harris and Weeks (1973:123) of a Seventeenth Dynasty pharaoh:
His entire facial complex, in fact, is so different from other pharaohs (it is closest to that of his son Ahmose) that he could be fitted more easily into the series of Nubian and Old Kingdom Giza skulls than into that of later Egyptian kings. Various scholars in the past have proposed a Nubian-that is, non-Egyptian-origin for Seqenenre and his family, and his facial features suggest this might indeed be true., MacGaffey (1966) comments on variation in ancient Egyptian portraiture. 'Negroid' and 'Egyptian' were not mutually exclusive [see Petrie, (19061, plate xix.]"[194]

Seqenenre is one of a number of New Kingdom pharaohs also held to be of Nubian origin by historians such as Donald B. Redford (History and Chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt)[195], and his work finds some support in studies (See Harris and Weeks above) doing x-rays of the ancient mummies.[196]

The localized approach to Nile Valley Egyptian populations

Some mainstream scholars prefer to place peoples into a more localized context, such as Nilo-Saharan, and note however that discussion of race may be unavoidable since much archealogical research uses certain terminology, and certain methodologies such as Mediterranean "lumping" and selective reporting. This earlier excavation and research in Egypt however contains valuable basic data. No serious discussion or attempt at getting a more accurate picture of the peoples and population movements involved can be made without reference to it. Mainstream scholar B. Trigger and S. Keita advocate terminology more directly based on the local variability of the data, and its changes over time, which allows for a wide range of types and variation:

"There is little demarcation between the predynastics and tropical series and even the early southern dynastic series. Definite trends are discernible in the analyses. This broadly shared "southern" metric pattern, along with the other mentioned characteristics to a greater or lesser degree, might be better described by the term Africoid, by definition connoting a tropical African microclade, microadaptation, and patristic affinity, thereby avoiding the nonevolutionary term "Negroid" and allowing for variation both real and conceptual."[197]

Names for ancient Nile Valley Egypt as a source for population classifications

The ancient Egyptians called their land many things including ta-meri and km.t. Also, they called Upper Egypt ta-shemu, "the sedge", and Lower Egypt ta-mehu or "the papyrus thicket". One of the most popular names for Egypt in ancient Egyptian is km.t (read "Kemet"), meaning "blacks". The word is composed of the noun km , which translates into "black", and determinative t, which makes the word a plural. The use of km.t "blacks" in terms of a place was generally in contrast to the "desert" or "red land": the desert beyond the Nile valley. When used to mean people, km.t "people of Kemet", "black people" is usually translated "Egyptians", some writers argue. Debate has centered around whether the 'kmt' term is an ethnic, cultural, spiritual reference, or a combination of the three. Some Africanist scholars suggest that the term refers to the 'racial' or ethnic characteristics of the people. [198]Still, other scholars disagree with this position, and hold that k.m.t refers to the color of the land, or soil, and not that of the people.[199] It is of note that terms meaning land, such as ta, or ateb, are no where to be found in the name km.t Land, however is found in other names, typically as ta, like in terms Ta-Nahisi, and Ta-Seti, which translate to "land of the southerners", and "land of the bow" respectively, with the latter a reference to the Nehesy or "nubian" weapon of choice.[200] The Nile river was sometimes called "Ar" or "Aur" (Coptic 'laro'). The land itself may have been given its oldest name, 'Kem' or 'Kemi', which signifies darkness, based on the black color of the sediments from it.[201]

Summary of general consensus and future directions

The general consensus of the field has moved away from earlier mass migration notions of outside peoples into Egypt, or of significant foreign movement during the formative and early stages of Egyptian civilization. Assyrians, Hyskos, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and others were to come later, when the flowering of the Nile Civilization was already well underway and its basic contours established.[202] This consensus is mirrored among Egyptologists who see the Nile Valley peoples as "basically a homogeneous African population [that] had lived in the Nile Valley from ancient to modern times." Rejecting notions of Aryan civilizers, the consensus holds that "The peoples of Egypt, the Sudan, and much of East African Ethiopia and Somalia are now generally regarded as a Nilotic continuity, with a wide range of physical variability."[203]

A similar consensus increasingly prevails among many contemporary anthropologists. A 1999 Physical Anthropology article in 'Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt' also reflects the general agreement in the field and calls for future research in the more northerly regions:[204]

"There is now a sufficient body of evidence from modern studies of skeletal remains to indicate that the ancient Egyptians, especially southern Egyptians, exhibited physical characteristics that are within the range of variation for ancient and modern indigenous peoples of the Sahara and tropical Africa." [205]

Increasing DNA research has moved towards scholarship informed not by traditional race categories, but by indigenous physical variability, climate, gene flow, genetic drift, culture and geography.[206] It is held that this emphasis is more accurate and useful in understanding the ancient Nile Valley peoples in their own setting and context, and captures the rich diversity and variability of their common heritage.[207] The common background of all human variation traces back to Africa. In the words of one mainstream anthropologist:

"Individuals with the same morphology do not necessarily cluster with each other by lineage, and a given lineage does not include only individuals with the same trait complex (or 'racial type'). Y-chromosome DNA from Africa alone suffices to make this point. Africa contains populations whose members have a range of external phenotypes. This variation has usually been described in terms of 'race' (Caucasoids, Pygmoids, Congoids, Khoisanoids). But the Y-chromosome clade defined by the PN2 transition (PN2/M35, PN2/M2) shatters the boundaries of phenotypically defined races and true breeding populations across a great geographical expanse. African peoples with a range of skin colors, hair forms and physiognomies have substantial percentages of males whose Y chromosomes form closely related clades with each other, but not with others who are phenotypically similar. The individuals in the morphologically or geographically defined 'races' are not characterized by 'private' distinct lineages restricted to each of them." (S O Y Keita, R A Kittles, et al. "Conceptualizing human variation," Nature Genetics 36, S17 - S20 (2004)

The diversity of Africans, which includes ancient Egyptian; and Berber speakers, is real and largely indigenous. An evolutionary perspective helps us understand why. Modem Homo sapiens have lived in Africa longer than anywhere else, according to most scholars. This length of time means that more random genetic mutations, the ultimate source of genetic variation, have accumulated in Africa. Furthermore, Africa is climatically and ecologically diverse. This favors diversification by Darwinian selection. The continent is large, which allows great movements and fissioning of populations. This promotes random genetic variation, since small portions of larger populations rarely accurately represent the range of genetic variation in a larger group, whether it is ancestral or exists at the same time... Why are these data important? Because they indicate that the background genetic variation of Europeans, Oceanians, and Asians originated in Africa and precedes in time the presence of modern humans in these areas. Europeans and Asian-Australians did develop more unique genetic profiles over time, but had a common background before their average "uniqueness" emerged. This background is African in a bio-historical sense. Therefore, it should not be surprising that some Africans share similarities with non-Africans. (S. Keita, "The Diversity of Indigenous Africans," in Egypt in Africa, Theodore Clenko, Editor (1996), pp. 104-105.[10])


Egypt in the African context:

As modern science moves away from simplistic percentage models, it is important to understand the concept of different time periods. Predynastic and early dyanstic Egypt is heavily rooted in the Sahara and the Sudan, which is itself derivative of the early human populations in Africa. Later waves of peoples to the Nile Valley like Arabs, or Hyskos would change the complexion of the land, but as noted by numerous scholars, there still remains a measure of continuity, even into the modern era. As the mainstream Encyclopedia of Pre-colonial Africa puts it:

"The period when sub-Saharan Africa was most influential in Egypt was a time when neither Egypt, as we understand it culturally, nor the Sahara, as we understand it geographically, existed. Populations and cultures now found south of the desert roamed far to the north. The culture of Upper Egypt, which became dynastic Egyptian civilization, could fairly be called a Sudanese transplant."(Egypt and Sub-Saharan Africa: Their Interaction. Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa, by Joseph O. Vogel, AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, California (1997), pp. 465-472 )[119]

and

"Over the last two decades, numerous contemporary (Khartoum Neolithic) sites and cemeteries have been excavated in the Central Sudan.. The most striking point to emerge is the overall similarity of early neolithic developments inhabitation, exchange, material culture and mortuary customs in the Khartoum region to those underway at the same time in the Egyptian Nile Valley, far to the north." (Wengrow, David (2003) "("Landscapes of Knowledge, Idioms of Power: The African Foundations of Ancient Egyptian Civilization Reconsidered," in Ancient Egypt in Africa, David O'Connor and Andrew Reid, eds. Ancient Egypt in Africa. London: University College London Press, 2003, pp. 119-137)

Today's more objective modern research places Ancient Egypt firmly in the African context as opposed to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern venues of the past, ethnic Egyptian nationalism that spins a simplistic and mythical "pure" Egyptian Race divorced from its African surroundings, or the flawed and inaccurate "race" analyses of earlier eras. As one language analysis puts it:

"Ancient Egyptian civilization was, in ways and to an extent usually not recognized, fundamentally African. The evidence of both language and culture reveals these African roots. The origins of Egyptian ethnicity lay in the areas south of Egypt. The ancient Egyptian language belonged to the Afrasian family (also called Afroasiatic or, formerly, Hamito-Semitic). The speakers of the earliest Afrasian languages, according to recent studies, were a set of peoples whose lands between 15,000 and 13,000 B.C. stretched from Nubia in the west to far northern Somalia in the east. (Christopher Ehret (1996) "Ancient Egyptian as an African Language, Egypt as an African Culture." In Egypt in Africa Egypt in Africa, Theodore Celenko (ed), Indiana University Press)

 

The words of one mainstream introductory textbook on the subject also illustrates the more objective and accurate modern approach, which recognizes like Yurco (1996) that the peoples of the Nile Valley and associated "north Africa", (the Sahara, the Sudan Ethiopia, Somalia, Nubia, etc) are one continuity, sharing language and cultural elements:

"Ancient Egypt belongs to a language group known as 'Afro-Asiatic' (formerly called Hamito-Semitic) and its closest relatives are other north-east African languages from Somalia to Chad. Egypt's cultural features, both material and ideological and particularly in the earliest phases, show clear connections with that same broad area. In sum, ancient Egypt was an African culture, developed by African peoples, who had wide ranging contacts in north Africa and western Asia." (Morkot, Robert (2005) The Egyptians: An Introduction. Routledge. p. 10)

 

Contents | History | Cranio-skeletal research | Mixed pop | DNA methods | DNA research problems | Sahara - Sudan- Levant | Continuity | Languages | Cultural linkages- Nubia-Egypt-Sahara | Visual images | Summary | Misc Notes | Hair | DemicDiff |

 

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    FOOTNOTES 62A TO 62G
    62a. European Journal of Human Genetics (2005) 13, 856–866, 2005, "High frequencies of Y chromosome lineages characterized by E3b1, DYS19-11, DYS392-12 in Somali males," Juan J Sanchez1, Charlotte Hallenberg1, Claus Børsting1, Alexis Hernandez2 and Niels Morling

    62b. Stevanovitch A, Gilles A, Bouzaid E, et al, "Mitochondrial DNA sequence diversity in a sedentary population from Egypt," (Ann. Hum. Genet., 2004), vol 68, pp 23-29) 

    62c. A, Tyler-Smith C (2004). "A predominantly neolithic origin for Y-chromosomal DNA variation in North Africa". Am J Hum Genet 75 (2): 338–45. doi:10.1086/423147. PMID 15202071; 

    62d) Manni F, Leonardi P, Barakat A, Rouba H, Heyer E, Klintschar M, McElreavey K, Quintana-Murci L (2002). "Y-chromosome analysis in Egypt suggests a genetic regional continuity in Northeastern Africa". Hum Biol 74 (5): 645–58. doi:10.1353/hub.2002.0054. PMID 12495079

    62e) S. Keita, History in Africa, Vol. 20, (1993), 129-154

    62f). Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu E, Rosa A, Brehm A, Pennarun E, Parik J, Geberhiwot T, Usanga E, Villems R, "Ethiopian mitochondrial DNA heritage: tracking gene flow across and around the gate of tears," Am J Hum Genet, vol 75, 5, p. 752-70

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Egypt in the African context:

As modern science moves away from simplistic percentage models, it is important to understand the concept of different time periods. Predynastic and early dyanstic Egypt is heavily rooted in the Sahara and the Sudan, which is itself derivative of the early human populations in Africa. Later waves of peoples to the Nile Valley like Arabs, or Hyskos would change the complexion of the land, but as noted by numerous scholars, there still remains a measure of continuity, even into the modern era. As the mainstream Encyclopedia of Pre-colonial Africa puts it:

"The period when sub-Saharan Africa was most influential in Egypt was a time when neither Egypt, as we understand it culturally, nor the Sahara, as we understand it geographically, existed. Populations and cultures now found south of the desert roamed far to the north. The culture of Upper Egypt, which became dynastic Egyptian civilization, could fairly be called a Sudanese transplant."(Egypt and Sub-Saharan Africa: Their Interaction. Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa, by Joseph O. Vogel, AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, California (1997), pp. 465-472 )[119]

and

"Over the last two decades, numerous contemporary (Khartoum Neolithic) sites and cemeteries have been excavated in the Central Sudan.. The most striking point to emerge is the overall similarity of early neolithic developments inhabitation, exchange, material culture and mortuary customs in the Khartoum region to those underway at the same time in the Egyptian Nile Valley, far to the north." (Wengrow, David (2003) "("Landscapes of Knowledge, Idioms of Power: The African Foundations of Ancient Egyptian Civilization Reconsidered," in Ancient Egypt in Africa, David O'Connor and Andrew Reid, eds. Ancient Egypt in Africa. London: University College London Press, 2003, pp. 119-137)

Today's more objective modern research places Ancient Egypt firmly in the African context as opposed to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern venues of the past, or the flawed and inaccurate "race" analyses of earlier eras. As one language analysis puts it:

"Ancient Egyptian civilization was, in ways and to an extent usually not recognized, fundamentally African. The evidence of both language and culture reveals these African roots. The origins of Egyptian ethnicity lay in the areas south of Egypt. The ancient Egyptian language belonged to the Afrasian family (also called Afroasiatic or, formerly, Hamito-Semitic). The speakers of the earliest Afrasian languages, according to recent studies, were a set of peoples whose lands between 15,000 and 13,000 B.C. stretched from Nubia in the west to far northern Somalia in the east. (Christopher Ehret (1996) "Ancient Egyptian as an African Language, Egypt as an African Culture." In Egypt in Africa Egypt in Africa, Theodore Celenko (ed), Indiana University Press)

 

The words of one mainstream introductory textbook on the subject also illustrates the more accurate modern approach:

"Ancient Egypt belongs to a language group known as 'Afro-Asiatic' (formerly called Hamito-Semitic) and its closest relatives are other north-east African languages from Somalia to Chad. Egypt's cultural features, both material and ideological and particularly in the earliest phases, show clear connections with that same broad area. In sum, ancient Egypt was an African culture, developed by African peoples, who had wide ranging contacts in north Africa and western Asia." (Morkot, Robert (2005) The Egyptians: An Introduction. Routledge. p. 10)

 

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