Professor Gloria T.Emeagwali Professor of History and African Studies Central Connecticut State University

MAIN SITE: africahistory.net


Memorable Conferences

"Egypt in its African Context"

The Manchester Museum, University of Manchester

3-4 October 2009

The African elements of the ancient Egyptian culture, and indeed its physical location in Africa, have frequently been ignored,

and there exists a level of prejudice against suggestions that Egyptian culture can be situated within an African cultural context.

The contextualising of ancient Egypt culturally

and geographically within Africa, the concept of ancient Egypt as part of Black History,

and the discussion of how the material is perceived only recently begun to receive attention, and the discussion is still regarded as peripheral and often irrelevant.

The conference was organized in association with The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and with the support of The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

From the Glories of Ancient Aksum to Ancient Egypt





Multiregional and monoregional theories of human origins

point to Africa as the birthplace of humanity.

Several molecular biologists and paleontologists confirm this to date.

The evidence so far implies that the first humans

in the world (homo sapiens) emerged in Africa about 200,000 years ago

and migrated to the various continents much later-perhaps as recent

as 45,000 years ago, in the case of migration to Europe.

We note the 4 million year old fossils of Ardi

and those of Dinknesh (Lucy) and her descendants dated around 3.2 million years.

The1996 discovery in Southern Ethiopia

of stone tools 2.6 million years old are relevant to this discussion.

The Kenyan -Ethiopian- Tanzanian region

seems to be an important birthplace of modern humans.

Not surprisingly,however, some find it difficult to reconcile

the Book of Genesis with scientific findings.

A common view in the scientific community is that

Ancient Africans migrated within Africa,

vertically and horizontally, as well as OUT OF AFRICA

to populate the world.

For views on the African and Afro-Pacific (Afro-Australian) origins

of some Ancient Americans, such as the Ancient Brazilians,

see Dr.Walter Neves,University of Sao Paolo, Brazil

(BBC Homepage: Thursday August 26, 1999).

See also Spencer Wells of in his pathbreaking work

'Journey of Man: The Story of the Human Species' (PBS, 2003). Consult www.pbs.org.

The Kushite Spread of Haplogroup R1*-M173 from Africa to Eurasia(Winters, 2010)

Having emerged millions of years ago in the environs

of present day Ethiopia and Kenya, some ancient Ethiopians and Eritreans

migrated into neigboring Yemen (Saba), across the Red Sea.

Legends of the area, view Queen Makeda, also known as the Queen of Sheba (Saba)

and Ethiopia, as an Ancient Ethiopian. Biblical texts

such as 1 Kings 10, 'The Song of Solomon', and, Ancient Ethiopian chronicles

such as the 'Kebra Nagast' tend to reflect this view.

As pointed out by historians such as Stuart Munro-Hay Aksum was an African civilization.

It was one of many centers of power to emerge

in the environs of ancient Ethiopia and Eritrea,

and, was predominantly derived from the intellectual

and material resources of ancient Africa.

See some relevant resources:


and the significance of a range of newly discovered sites, which include:

The world's oldest stone tools dated 2.6 million years.

The discovery in Ethiopia of skeletal remains of homo erectus- 1.3 million years old. Olduvai, Northern Tanzania hosts the second oldest

tools- dated 2.1 million years.

Note also, Blombos Cave, South Africa, where, in 2003,

the world's oldest jewelry were found, in the form

of 41 perforated shell beads.

Here we have evidence of stylized

art work, as well as

'the kind of symbolism and creativity

associated with modern humans.'....now dated between 80,000 and 100,000 years ago.

See South Africa museums,Cape Town.


At Loiyangalani, Tanzania,East Africa,

in the Serengeti National Park, decorated ostrich eggshell

beads were discovered by archeologists.

These point also to early

human creativity, and were found March 2004, in layers dated between 280,000

and 40,000 years.

See www.CBC.ca/stories/2004/03/31/sci-tech/beads040331.

We must also take into account:

The Ishango mathematical/calendar artifact of East-Central Africa,

dated about 25,000 years.

(This artifact was taken out of the Congo region to Belgium.

See the exhibit at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Belgium. )

Also in this category of early mathematical artifacts is

the 37,000 year old Lebombo bone of SWAZILAND, Southern Africa.

The Blombos findings of South Africa, earlier mentioned, include

symbolic inscriptions of straignt and diagonal lines,

according to Henshilwood (2009).These finds are

approximately 60,000 years older than the Lebombo artifact,

according to recent dating.

Other relevant sites include:

Rock Art in Southern Africa

In 2007 Swiss archeologists found ancient pottery in Mali, West Africa, dated 9400 BCE.

Ancient pots in this range have also been found in Niger, West Africa

Malian Pots- Swiss Info

(h) Africa's oldest boat has been found in Ancient Nigeria -

8000 years old, the oldest in the continent and the third oldest in the world.

Dufuna Boat

Ancient Northeast Africa

Nubia (Ancient Sudan -Univ. of Khartoum)

One of Several Temples, Lalibela, Ethiopia.

See alsoAksum and Rome

n.Ethiopian Temple

o.Ethiopian Slide Show (includes engineering achievements - Univ. of Pennsylvania)

Extract from the inscriptions on the walls of the funeral palace of Queen Hatshepsut, at Dar al-Bahri.

See Hilliard,C.'Intellectual Traditions of Pre-Colonial Africa.' McGraw Hill, 1998.

'Measuring the fresh myrrh, in great quantities, for Amon, lord of Thebes;

marvels of the countries of Punt, treasures of God's-Land, for the sake of the life, prosperity and health.....'

Here is an example of Egyptian sentiments about Punt:

'When I hold my love close

and her arms steal around me,

I'm like a man translated to Punt....'

Foster,John. Love Songs of the New Kingdom.Univ. of Texas, 1992.p.25


Benin Iya, the Benin Enclosures and Fortifications,

West Africa, 10,000 miles in length. This is

one of the largest man-made structures in the world according to

the renowned British archeologist Patrick Darling.

The Gwoza Terraces of NE Nigeria, West Africa

The Walled Cities of Zazzau & Kano, Northern Nigeria, West Africa

Monumental fortifications of West Africa 1000AD (wall 100 miles long x 70' high) -

commissioned by Madame Sungbo of the Ijebu Kingdom,

Yorubaland, West Africa.

Note numerous metallurgical and other artifacts such as:

The Bronzes of Benin, Ife and Igbo-Ukwu, Nigeria, West Africa

Indigenous Glassworks of Bida, Nupeland, Nigeria, West Africa

Ancient Terracotta Figurines of Nok, Nigeria, West Africa

Southern Africa

Innovations and Indigenous Technology in Great Zimbabwe

Despite eurocentric strategies

of disinformation, Africans developed knowledge systems

of their own in the pre-colonial era. Some survived into the

post-colonial era, despite various forms of colonial

intimidation. In the case of writing, the use of specific

scripts was often confined to the priestly hierarchy.

Africans in various parts of the continent developed a wide

range of symbols and motifs for communicating various

ideas and concepts. The variety of writing material

used in some parts of the continent, historically, reflects

the complex history of Africa's writing systems which in the

past were in scribed on materials such as parchment, papyrus,

leather, skin, fabric, sand, clay, and metal more extensively

in some parts of the continent than others. Among

some of the writing systems (Ayele Bekerie)

Geez (Ethiopia),

Meroitic (Nubia),

Hieroglyphics (Egypt),


Vai (Liberia),

Nsibidi (Nigeria/Cameroon),

Ajimi (Nigeria/Niger)and the Adinkra pictographic system (Akan- Ghana,Ivory Coast)

But Africans also developed a wide range of sophisticated

systems of oral expression involving the preservation and

transmission of information in oral format.In some

cases these systems coexisted with the above-mentioned

writing systems. Texts such as the epic of Sundiata (Mali)

or the Abuja Chronicle (Nigeria) are good examples of

works which were originally in this mode.

See Johnson, Hale and Belcher, African Oral Epics, 1997



Internet Sourcebook (Paul Halsall)


Abridged Bibliography on Africa

Legacy of Africa

African Timeline Oral Literature(Ruth Finnegan)/ Courtesy Open Book publishers

On-line Newsletter of African Studies

Send comments to Dr Gloria Emeagwali,

Professor of History and African Studies, CCSU