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Black Pharaohs

 

 


National Geographic
Apparently in honor of African American Heritage Month (aka "Black History Month"), National Geographic
chose the above cover for its February 2008 issue. It reads: "The Black
Pharaohs: Conquerors of Ancient Egypt." While the effort is to be
applauded, there are still some questionable conclusions reached by the
author, Robert Draper. Nevertheless, his candor in addressing European
racism in hiding the Black Pharaohs from the world is admirable.

Black Pharaohs
“Piye
was the first of the so-called black pharaohs—a series of Nubian kings
who ruled over all of Egypt for three-quarters of a century as that
country’s 25th dynasty. … The black pharaohs reunified a
tattered Egypt and filled its landscape with glorious monuments,
creating an empire that stretched from the southern border at
present-day Khartoum all the way north to the Mediterranean Sea. They
stood up to the bloodthirsty Assyrians, perhaps saving Jerusalem in the
process.”—Pages 38, 39.
 
Hidden History
“Until
recently, theirs was a chapter of history that largely went untold.
Only in the past four decades have archaeologists resurrected their
story—and come to recognize that the black pharaohs didn’t appear out
of nowhere. They sprang from the robust African civilization that had
flourished on the southern banks of the Nile for 2,500 years, going
back at least as far as the first Egyptian dynasty.”—Page 39.
 
Sudan’s Pyramids
“Today
Sudan’s pyramids—greater in number than all of Egypt’s—are haunting
spectacles in the Nubian Desert….[H]undreds of miles north, at Cairo or
Luxor, curiosity seekers arrive by the busload to jostle and crane for
views of the Egyptian wonders, Sudan’s seldom-visited pyramids at El
Kurru, Nuri, and Meroë stand serenely amid an arid landscape that
scarcely hints of the thriving culture of ancient Nubia.”—Page 39.


                     


Eurocentric History
“The
ancient world was devoid of racism. At the time of Piye’s historic
conquest, the fact that his skin was dark was irrelevant. Artwork from
ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome shows a clear awareness of racial
features and skin tone, but there is little evidence that darker skin
was seen as a sign of inferiority. Only after the Europeans powers
colonized Africa in the 19th century did Western scholars pay attention to the color of the Nubians’ skin, to uncharitable effect.”—Page 39.  
 
Nubians vs. Assyrians
“To
the east, the Assyrians were fast building their own empire. In 701
b.c., when they marched into Judah in present-day Israel, the Nubians
decided to act. At the city of Eltekeh, the two armies met. And
although the Assyrian emperor, Sennacherib, would brag lustily that he
‘inflicted defeat upon them,’ a young Nubian prince, perhaps 20, son of
the great pharaoh Piye, managed to survive. That the Assyrians, whose
tastes ran to wholesale slaughter, failed to kill the prince suggests
their victory was anything but total. In any even, when the Assyrians
left town and massed against the gates of Jerusalem, that city’s
embattled leader, Hezekiah, hoped his Egyptian allies would come to the
rescue. The Assyrians issued a taunting reply, immortalized in the Old
Testament’s Book of II Kings: ‘Thou trustest upon the staff of this
bruised reed [of] Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his
hand, and pierce it: So is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on
him.’”—Pages 44, 48.
 
 21st Century Eurocentricity?
“Revisiting
that golden age in the African desert does little to advance the case
of Afrocentric Egyptologists, who argue that all ancient Egyptians,
from King Tut to Cleopatra, were black Africans. Nonetheless, the saga
of the Nubians proves that a civilization from deep in Africa not only
thrived but briefly dominated in ancient times, intermingling and
sometimes intermarrying with their Egyptian neighbors to the north.
(King Tut’s own grandmother, the 18th-dynasty Queen Tiye, is claimed by some to be of Nubian heritage.)”—Page 44.



The Black Pharaohs

An ignored chapter of history tells of a time when kings from deep in Africa conquered ancient Egypt.

By Robert Draper
National Geographic Contributing Writer
Photograph by Kenneth Garrett

In the year 730 B.C.,
a man by the name of Piye decided the only way to save Egypt from
itself was to invade it. Things would get bloody before the salvation
came.

“Harness the best steeds of your stable,” he
ordered his commanders. The magnificent civilization that had built the
great pyramids had lost its way, torn apart by petty warlords. For two
decades Piye had ruled over his own kingdom in Nubia, a swath of Africa
located mostly in present-day Sudan. But he considered himself the true
ruler of Egypt as well, the rightful heir to the spiritual traditions
practiced by pharaohs such as Ramses II and Thutmose III. Since Piye
had probably never actually visited Lower Egypt, some did not take his
boast seriously. Now Piye would witness the subjugation of decadent
Egypt firsthand—“I shall let Lower Egypt taste the taste of my
fingers,” he would later write.

North on the Nile
River his soldiers sailed. At Thebes, the capital of Upper Egypt, they
disembarked. Believing there was a proper way to wage holy wars, Piye
instructed his soldiers to purify themselves before combat by bathing
in the Nile, dressing themselves in fine linen, and sprinkling their
bodies with water from the temple at Karnak, a site holy to the
ram-headed sun god Amun, whom Piye identified as his own personal
deity. Piye himself feasted and offered sacrifices to Amun. Thus
sanctified, the commander and his men commenced to do battle with every
army in their path.

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Dr. Firpo Carr

National Geographic


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