"Snowden approached...all of the writings of the 'classical writers' of Greece and Rome for the actual references made to Africa and Africans...Ethiopians were the yardstick by which blackness was measured...European family crests showing black faces and coarse hair are accompanied frequently by such African derivatives as Mawr, Moore, Moorehead, Morris, Morrison, Mora, Maurice, Mareau, Moretti, Muir, Mohr, meaning a person from Mauritania [the Moors]. Sometimes the label is more indirect with names such as Schwartz, Schwartzkopf, and Schwartzmann, which are German for Black, Blackhead and Blackman...
...the physical evidence for a [black African] presence in Greece and Rome is compelling and extensive...including photographs of carvings, pottery, paintings and coins...it is only because the racism of the present is projected by today's authors into an ancient world that did not know racism as we do, that we have become so misinformed about Africans, and therefore misinformed about history."
from AFRICAN PRESENCE IN EARLY EUROPE
"Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience"
A review by Asa G. Hilliard
And now it's time for a really good book.
Ivan Van Sertima, genius anthropologist and author of numerous critically acclaimed books including the international best- seller THEY CAME BEFORE COLUMBUS, is the mastermind behind this collection of essays. These essays on the largely untold history of people of African descent and their influence on Western Civilization are from authors who have been all but ignored or maligned by much of the scholarly classical intelligentsia for decades (and in some cases centuries). However, thanks to the changing times, their work and historical perspectives--made practically impregnable with mountains of corroborative archealogical, literary and anthropological evidence--are coming closer to becoming the new standard with each passing generation. If you're a person who has a passing interest in this thing that people have been labelling "Afrocentric" scholarship for generations now, even from a modern sociological perspective as opposed to historical, this book, in its quilt of various writers, disciplines, perspectives, styles and subjects looped together with the thematic umbrella of Africa's cultural centrality and preeminence in the ancient world and its influence on every Western world in history thereafter, is a great place to start. Just the same, I would say this is more a book for anyone who, instead of being merely turned on by the intellectual side of the politics of Multiculturalism and Identity in modern times (which, unfortunately, is just another subtle form of applied racism), has found a spark go off in their minds about the subject matter in particular and what it means to the modern human's soul.
With Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell and countless other figures of African descent in late 20th Century culture--not to mention Technology and Globilization's obliterating of the old plantation economic rules--America and Europe has had no need to hold so tightly onto the old rules of racist perspectives on other cultures to maintain a sense of intellectual order or economic/social supremacy. This has been evidenced by many aspects of today's world. Yet it is precisely this visible progress that makes such books as this, returning to a sober, balanced perspective on our actual past--our world history--MORE important, as opposed to not. There was a time--in fact, when most of the authors listed began writing--when such scholarship was taken as seriously as Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock on stage. Now times have changed such that the Aryan intellectual paradigms that still govern so much of the unconscious of Western scholarship (wihtout the majority of us even realizing to what degree it has shaped our perspective on society and ourselves) have lost their hold on the world enough to let the light of truth shine in.
There is so much information about the African contribution to world civilization that merely contemplating it and its spiritual/cultural implications will create a transformative hunger in you for knowledge that otherwise would have never materialized. This book is a great appetizer in that context--and a great introduction to more than two centuries of wonderful full course meals.
As is usually the case with these kinds of books, they need an editor to fix several typographical errors that are pretty unnecessary. That and some of the writings that come off a little bit too much like sermons as opposed to lessons keep this from being a five star book for me. But none of that will stop you from from being fed by it; the bibliographies of each writer's essay alone make the book worth its weight in gold.
With works as varied, provocative and mind-blowing as Martin Bernal's lecture on the actual evidence of Ancient pre-Hellenic Greece's colonization by ancient Egypt, English author/professor Edward Scobie's revealing of the history of Black African Popes in the early Catholic church, and many others, this will easily become an important book in the library of anyone who owns it, regardless of ethnic background. Enjoy.