on 22 August 2000
This book replaces W.B. Emery's Archaic Egypt as the standard English-language introduction to the early dynastic period. It is a fine synthesis of the last century of work in the field and in specialist journals, including the many recent discoveries (e.g., cemetary U at Umm-el-Qaab, the many delta sites) as well as the most important discussions (e.g., Seidlmayer, Renee Friedman). Especially strong in dealing with the "new" archeology, the most important original contribution of this work is its analysis of royal administration in the 1st through 3rd dynasties. If this study does have a weakness, it is in its catalog-like treatment of religion; but even on this topic the major references are given for the interested reader to consult.
I have been to Egypt, the first time was in 1993, and I made my mind up that I'd like to study Egyptology.
Although in my second year of studying Egyptology, during my first year this was one of my study books. It's an excellent book for discovering about Ancient Egypt before the Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.
It's a very in-depth read and you'll learn a lot about Egypt's beginning, it can be a little slow and sometimes you may have to read a chapter more then once for the knowledge to sink in,( I know I did), but it's well worth the money.
It makes an excellent edition to my little Egyptian library, which now stands at nearly 1000 books on this subject. :-)
on 20 June 2012
Mr. Wilkinson offers his readers a view of early dynastic Egypt that is a perfect example of what is wrong with the so-called "norms of Egyptological scholarship".
All of the classical ancient writers, Greek and Roman, recognized the fact that "ancient Egypt" and "Nubia" were part of the same ancient Nile Valley complex of African civilizations.
For these writers, human civilization descended down the great Nile river from the heart of Africa.
For them the "ancient Egyptians" and the "Nubians" were black negro African people. They saw them, they spoke with them( For example, Aristotle, Strabo, Herodotus, Diodorus,etc,etc..).
It is interesting to note that none of these ancient classical European writers said that the "ancient Egyptians" came from the "East" or that they received any cultural "impulses" from Mesopotamia.
None said that the ancient Egyptians of their day were Asian or white .
It was during the 15th 16th 17th century that European nationalism and the German invention of "racial types", slowly began to change this paradigm into the one used today by modern Euro centric thinkers.
The German school of African studies, the Colonial Institute at Hamburg,which opened around 1906, became extremely influential in Europe, spreading the views of Hegel throughout Europe and America. Today we know those views are false, yet eurocentric scholars cling to the dogmas of the "German School" of African studies.
For Hegel Black African people were outside of human history. "There was no historical evolution in Africa proper.....it was in Asia that the light of the spirit dawned and the history of the world began." The German thinkers came up with the idea that "waves of immigrants from the East" populated Africa bringing people and civilization. According to Stulmann, even black Africans came from Asia!! Today we know that is false.
Thus we have the so-called "Hamitic" theory where the same "Ham" is considered black when cursed in European folklore, Jewish religious text and popular Christianity and whitened up when he is found at the beginnings of Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations . According to the Germans, we have the "Eastern Hamites" and the "Western Hamites".
Today We know that mankind has its origins in the Great Lakes region of Africa and all biblical folklore to the contrary must be set aside .
Mr. Wilkinson follows this racialist, outdated euro-centric framework to the detriment of his endeavor.
No one has ever provided any evidence that the culture of the Tigris and the Euphrates predates the cultures of African river valley cultures of the Nile. Nor does anyone know exactly where was the center of this "Eastern"(Hamitic) or "Asiatic"(Hamitic)civilization. When and exactly where did it exist? Where is the evidence of any kind? Exactly who were these people? What languages did they speak? What were the characteristics of their culture? Where are the prototypes of ancient Egyptian culture...these questions can be ignored if one has to remain true to Herr Hegel and Herr Stulmann. Remember the paradigm!
When faced with the black African realities of his fabled "Ancient Egypt", Mr. Wilkinson struggles desperately to follow the Master Narrative of pure Eurocentrism.
For example on page 181-182, Mr. Wilkinson goes into some detail about the burial of SiSi. SiSi appears to be a "Nubian" and not "Egyptian" to Mr. Wilkinson.
Later Mr. Wilkinson tells of another burial at Shellal of a man of high status who is "unquestionably Nubian". Wilkinson writes that " the deceased was clearly a man of some status: he was interred holding two valuable copper objects, and wearing an elaborate gold necklace........." Wilkinson ends with this: " It has been suggested that the individual buried at Shellal was an Upper Nubian trade envoy who died unexpectedly whilst visiting Egypt(O'Conner 1993:27)." Perhaps he was an "Ancient Egyptian" Mr. Wilkinson. Could your elaborate theories be wrong and biased?
At another point Wilkinson writes: "Although the majority of the graves in this cemetery belonged to the A-Group...." Mr. Wilkinson does not tell his readers that everybody buried in cemetery was black- Black African people are labeled"A-Group","Nubian", "C-Group" B group and on and on......
The "ancient Egyptians" used a term for themselves that can only be translated as: "the black people" or "the Negroes". That word is "Kmt"(followed by man/woman and plural markers). See R. O. Faulkner 1962 p.286, or UNESCO General History of Africa 1981 V. 2 p.42.
Eurocentric scholars translate the term as "Kemit", Kmtjw Kmt or "Egyptians". Well and good ,but if we examine the term closely and study it's etymology, there can be absolutely no doubt that the literal translation would have to be "black people" or the "black men and women".
When Dr. Wilkinson discuses the "hostile" and "exploitative" attitude of the ancient Egyptians towards the Nubians, he again follows the Eurocentric paradigm and implies that some form of racial differences were at the bottom of Egypto-Nubian wars and conflicts. On page 155, Wilkinson seems to be saying that relationships between ancient Egypt and the "East", in this case southern Palestine and northern Sinai, were characterized by "a broad border zone occupied by intermixed Egyptian and native trading post-post and villages....."
This is extremely misleading,especially to general readers. On pages 77-76 of Mr. Wilkinson's book he writes of the numerous wars Den waged against Palestine and areas of the Sinai.
The ancient Egyptian had some terms for Asians and Europeans were extremely pejorative,denoting an animal like human( 3mou and tahmou) using the animal determinative. Anyone familiar with the language would know this.
The ancient Egyptians built no temples in Palestine or the Sinai. Yet they built many temples in "Nubia", some with Nubian Gods and Goddesses. Egyptian women and Nubian wore the same hair styles, many were totemic.
The first "holy land" was far south of Egypt in the heart of Africa. So was the the "land of the ancestors", "land of the spirits". The Twa(so-called Pygmies) people from tropical Africa were sought after to engage in sacred rituals to dance the dance of the Gods in a ceremony involving the Pharaoh, the ultimate high priest. They buried their dead facing the south. Nubia existed long before Egypt, along side Egypt and even after Egypt. There are more pyramids in Nubia than in Egypt.
Even the profoundly racist American Egyptologist Reisner admitted that Nubia and Egypt formed one civilization and the origins of that civilization was the black peoples of Punt.
Yet Mr. Wilkinson can offer nothing but pure speculation to support his many, many suggestions and nuanced assertions that the origin of ancient Egyptian civilization lay in the "East". Remember the paradigm!
As for the exploitative and hostile attitude towards Nubians, we would respond that: if we look at modern Europe we see serious conflict in the Balkans. How many times have the Germans fought the Poles? The French and the English,the Irish and the English.Spain and Portugal.... and on and on. Are they not all Europeans who share the same cultural universe?
Simply because they fought each other does not mean that there
was some kind of impenetrable wall between these two black African peoples.
The impenetrable wall between ancient Egypt and Nubian, and the rest of African exist only in the minds of the Eurocentric thinkers who cling to the myths of the past. This is simply one of many myths created by European Egyptologist to obscure the black African realities of "Ancient Egypt".
Mr. Wilkinson demonstrates his determination to follow Euro-American nationalist ideologies when he writes that the royal placenta standards on early royal monuments have nothing to do with the Baganda people of Uganda. Mr. Wilkinson drags out the old "Hamitic" theory when he writes that the "elite" of the Baganda people where "Hamitic in origin". (p.299)
I think the Baganda of Uganda would be surprised to know that their kings were "Hamitic"! lol
No one can define the term "Hamitic", not even Mr. Wilkinson who supplies an interesting attempt on page 370.
"Hamitic(adj.) Belonging to the grouping of north African languages and cultures which includes, amongst others,ancient Egyptian and Berber."
An incredible, vague and confusing definition!!
Since the language of ancient Egypt is not genetically related to Berber(Rif nor Siwa) and it is certainly not genetically related to any Semitic language.
The language of ancient Egypt was a black African language that is genetically related to modern day black African negro languages. See the linguistic works of C.A. Diop or Theophile Obenga or Unesco General History of Africa V.2 44-48,G Mokhtar,1981.
If Mr. Wilkinson has any scientific linguistic evidence to the contrary let him bring it forth.
Mr. Wilkerson certainly cites some credible archaeological evidence, but his interpretations of the evidence is forced into his Eurocentric framework.
The book may appear to be scholarly, but on closer scrutiny we find the form of scholarship but not the spirit. A slick, devious veneer of scholarly sounding rhetoric that conceals a racialist ideology as its unstated premise.
If we peel back the layers of Mr. Wilkinson's rhetoric, what we find is the views of people like Hermann Kees(University of Gottingen), Hermann Junker(University of Vienna) and Walther Wolff(University of Munster) . The ideas of these men have deeply influenced the European School of Egyptology and Western thought in general.
The west has always had a love affair with German ideologies and dogma.
It should be noted that all of these men had very strong ties with the German nazi movement. Facts are stubborn things.
Remember the paradigm.
At this point let us leave this "constellation of errors" in interpretation of these ancient black African cultures that we now call "Ancient Egypt". A series of ancient African civilizations that originated in the heart of black Africa to the dismay of many.
Remember the paradigm.