Black artists include ancient Egypt. The Egyptians are not happy about this. (2023)

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A new exhibition at a Dutch museum shows how black musicians took inspiration and pride from the idea that ancient Egypt was an African civilization. Egyptians say it distorts their history and identity.

Black artists include ancient Egypt. The Egyptians are not happy about this. (1)

Aftervivian y

Report from Cairo

A new exhibit at a Dutch museum proclaims, "Egypt is part of Africa," which may seem like an unambiguous statement to most people who have seen a map of the world.

(Video) Are Modern Egyptians The Real Egyptians? DNA UPDATE 2023

Aliexhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leidengoes beyond geography. It explores the tradition of black musicians - Beyoncé, Tina Turner, Nas and others - drawing inspiration and pride from the idea that ancient Egypt was an African civilization. The exhibition is framed as a useful correction of centuries of cultural erasure of Africans.

But what may sound empowering in the US and provocative in the Netherlands is anathema to the Egyptian government and many of its citizens, who have flooded the museum's Facebook and Google pages with complaints - sometimes racist - about what they see as Western appropriation. history.

Many Egyptians do not consider themselves African at all, identifying much more with the Arab and Muslim peoples of the Middle East and North Africa, and many look down on dark-skinned Egyptians and sub-Saharan Africans. And some believe their culture and history are being erased in Western efforts to rectify historical racism.

The exhibition "attacks Egyptian culture and heritage" and "distorts Egyptian identity," said lawmaker Ahmed Belal in a speech on May 2, shortly after the opening of the exhibition and around the same time that similar fireworks went off over a Netflix documentary of ancient Greco-Egyptian queensCleopatra as Black.

Within weeks, perhaps aware of the appeal of its nationalist supporters, the Egyptian government took action. The body that oversees everything related to ancient Egypt has informed a team of archaeologists at the Leiden Museum, including the semi-Egyptian curator of the exhibition, that they can no longer excavate in Egypt. Until then, Dutch Egyptologists were working on ancient tombs in Saqqarasince 1975.

"If you don't respect our culture or our heritage, we won't work with you until you do," said Abdul Rahim Rihan, an Egyptian archaeologist who heads a group called the Campaign to Protect Egypt's Culture.

The assumptions that ancient Egypt is the cultural ancestor of modern blacks are central to some forms of Afrocentrism, a cultural and political movement that arose to oppose often racist, colonialist ideas about the supposed inferiority of African cultures compared to European cultures. According to this story, black people can be proud of their roots in an ancient kingdom that produced some of the world's greatest decorators.

But for the Egyptians, it all boils down to a wounded sense that just as Westerners looted antiquities like the Rosetta Stone from Egypt and took credit for discovering them centuries ago, so too are they regaining control of ancient Egypt from the Egyptians themselves.

Themuseum exhibition, "Kemet: Egypt in Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul and Funk" discusses how Afrocentrism manifests itself in music. Beyoncé and Rihanna were dressed in Nefertiti, the queen of ancient Egypt. Nina Simone has said that she believes she is the reincarnation of Nefertiti. and Mrs. Turner once sang about what Queen Hatshepsut - the pharaoh of ancient Egypt - had been like in a past life.

On the cover of Nas's 1999 album "I Am...", his face is carved into the famous golden mask of King Tutankhamun. Miles Davis, Prince and Erykah Badu have borrowed inspiration from Pharaoh for lyrics, jewelry and more.

"Kemet", the word the ancient Egyptians used to describe their land, even commissioned itaudio tourin Dutch, English and Arabic with narration by Dutch rapper Typhoon as well as a new song by Dutch rapper Nnelga about his connection to ancient Egypt.


(Video) Were The Ancient Egyptians Black? The TRUTH

Touring Typhoon admits that the musicians' views "are not the only way to think about ancient Egypt", but still presents the exhibition as a correction of history.

"Although TV shows and movies in the Netherlands and the US often only paint a specific image of Egypt to the public, black people have lived there both in the past and now," he says.

The program he editedDaniela Solimana, is half Egyptian, with the addition of astatementdescribing the exposure on the Internet as a response to the "storm" in social media. It is said to attempt to explain "why ancient Egypt is important to these artists and musicians, and from what cultural and spiritual movements music emerged."

Museum officials declined to comment beyond a statement. But theydefending the projectthey pointed out that most critics did not visit.

For the Egyptians, how exactlysensitivethis point became clear during the Netflix controversy"Queen Cleopatrawhen an Egyptian lawyer called for the streaming service to be banned in Egypt and the government dismissed the show as "spoofing Egyptian history".

Some of their anger may also be due to color: some Egyptians tend to equate fair skin with the elite, perhaps as a result of old beauty standards that valued fair skin and centuries of rule by light-skinned invaders from Europe and Turkey.


The anger of the Egyptians is partly based on the Afrocentric idea, by no means accepted by all Afrocentrists, that the Arabs who invaded Egypt in the 7th century displaced the true African Egyptians.

"This is an attack on Egyptian identity," said Dr. Rihan, an Egyptian archaeologist. "It's not about skin color," he added."When you say things like that," he said, "you cut the Egyptians out of their own history, against all evidence."

Dr. Soliman began working on excavations in Egypt as a student before joining the museum. He is one of the leaders of a team affiliated with the museum that usually spends weeks each year in the village of Sakkara, south of Cairo, excavating the tombs of the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis.

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Unlike European or American archaeological excavations of the past - as evidenced by the photographs of the famous discovery of King Tut's tomb by Howard Carter - the Leiden archaeological team carefully highlights the contribution of Egyptian workers, highlighting them in photographs andinternet diariesfor excavations from every era. These efforts coincide with a growing trend in Egyptology to place more importance on the Egyptians, once neglected in the study of their country's history, in this field.

But that didn't matter when word got out about Dr. Soliman.

The Dutch museum seemed a bit surprised by the tone of criticism on social media, emphasizing that while it welcomes "respectful dialogue", racist or offensive comments will be removed.


Scholars tend to study ancient Egypt as part of the Mediterranean world, with cultural and political ties to Greece and Rome, as well as Nubia, which roughly coincides with present-day Sudan.

While there is no scholarly consensus on the appearance or ethnicity of the ancient Egyptians, many classics argue that it is not appropriate to talk about race at all at that time because the ancients did not classify people as we do now.

Today's Egyptians, like the dialect they speak, come from a multi-branched family tree. Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks and Albanians conquered Egypt several centuries ago. Circassians came as slaves, Arabs from the Levantine and Western Europeans as entrepreneurs. Nubians still live in southern Egypt.

But Islam and the Arabic language now dominate, uniting Egypt with the Arab and Muslim majority of the Middle East and North Africa rather than with the rest of the continent on which it is located.

“Egypt is in a special category,” says David Abulafia, a historian at the University of Cambridge who studies the ancient world. "Putting it all together, nuances are often lost in the way African history is presented as a block."

But for Typhoon, the Dutch rapper, Egyptian uniqueness is fueled by discredited European theories that "were used to determine which ancient civilizations were considered important and therefore could not have belonged to Africa," he says on the audio tour.

Such theories, he says, "separated ancient Egypt from its African context."


(Video) The REAL Reason Egyptians Are Fighting Afrocentrists

Nina Siegal forwarded reports from Amsterdam.

Vivian Yee is the head of the Cairo Office, covering the politics, society and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. He previously lived in Beirut, Lebanon and New York, where he wrote about New York, New York politics and immigration. @VivianHeee

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(Video) "Ancient Egypt was NOT African" - A Look at Modern Scholars Lack of Intellectual Integrity. Part 2


What did black mean to the Egyptians? ›

Black (Ancient Egyptian name "kem") was the color of the life-giving silt left by the Nile river yearly flooding. It symbolized fertility, new life and a new. beginning. It was also the color of Osiris.

What did artists do in ancient Egypt? ›

In ancient Egypt, art was magical. Whether in the form of painting, sculpture, carving or script, art had the power to maintain universal order and grant immortal life by appealing to various gods to act on behalf of people – both in life and in death.

Were there artists in ancient Egypt? ›

The original style of art was first used in 3000 B.C. and the most respected artists continued to copy these styles for the next 3000 years. Much of the artwork created by the Ancient Egyptians had to do with their religion. They would fill the tombs of the Pharaohs with paintings and sculptures.

What were Egyptian slaves called? ›

Egyptian texts refer to words 'bAk' and 'Hm' that mean laborer or servant. Some Egyptian language refers to slave-like people as 'sqrw-anx', meaning "bound for life". Forms of forced labor and servitude are seen throughout all of ancient Egypt.

What are black Egyptians called? ›

The Egyptian is reddish-brown, while the Nubian is black. Each group is also marked with their own distinctive hairstyles and clothing.

What did the ancient Egyptians call the black land? ›

Kemet or, “black land,” denotes the rich, fertile land of the Nile Valley, while Deshret, or “red land,” refers to the hot, dry desert. The contrast between the red land and the black land was not just visible or geographic, it effected the Egyptians' everyday lives.

Who was Egyptian art meant for? ›

The function of Egyptian art

These images, whether statues or reliefs, were designed to benefit a divine or deceased recipient. Statuary provided a place for the recipient to manifest and receive the benefit of ritual action.

What inspired Egyptian artists to make art? ›

Common symbols and images formed the foundation and influenced all other types of Egyptian art, as it was believed that they gave protection from evil in present life and afterlife. The tombs that held the mummified deceased Egyptians contained a substantial amount of these symbols and images.

How would you describe ancient Egyptian art? ›

Ancient Egyptian art forms are characterized by regularity and detailed depiction of gods, human beings, heroic battles, and nature. A high proportion of the surviving works were designed and made to provide peace and assistance to the deceased in the afterlife.

When did ancient Egypt art start? ›

One can be forgiven for thinking that Egyptian art is all about colour, strange statues, temples and mummies, but its art starts 15,000 years ago in the Upper Palaeolithic period.

Was Egyptian art made in Africa? ›

Egyptian civilization formed in northern Africa along the banks of the Nile River over six thousand years ago. The region's artists and artisans were highly trained in a visual vocabulary that endured for thousands of years—and which continues to influence artistic and architectural forms to this day.

Why did ancient Egyptians do art? ›

The ancient Egyptian language had no word for "art". Artworks served an essentially functional purpose that was bound with religion and ideology. To render a subject in art was to give it permanence. Therefore, ancient Egyptian art portrayed an idealized, unrealistic view of the world.

Were there black slaves in ancient Egypt? ›

In addition to domestic service, black slaves were used as soldiers by Egypt's rulers and, contrary to the prevalent assumption, as agricultural workers on the farms of the Muḥammad Alī family and elsewhere in Upper Egypt and during periods of prosperity and shortage of labour also in Lower Egypt.

When did Egypt end slavery? ›

Trade in African slaves had been abolished in Egypt in 1877, and the Bureau had been created to search for unlawful caravans and enforce the abolition.

Who had slaves in Egypt? ›

From 935 to 1250, Egypt was controlled by dynastic rulers, notably the Ikhshidids, Fatimids, and Ayyubids. Throughout these dynasties, thousands of Mamluk servants and guards continued to be used and even took high offices. The Mamluks were essentially enslaved mercenaries.

Were Egyptians white or black? ›

Ancient Egyptians Were Likely To Be Ethnically Diverse

Instead, they simply classified themselves by the regions where they lived. Scholarly research suggests there were many different skin colours across Egypt, including what we now call white, brown and black. But this is still a subject of much debate.

What do Egyptians speak? ›

The official language of Egypt is Arabic, and most Egyptians speak one of several vernacular dialects of that language. As is the case in other Arab countries, the spoken vernacular differs greatly from the literary language.

Is Egypt Arab or African? ›

The Egyptian people are part of the Arab nation seeking to enhance its integration and unity. Egypt is part of the Islamic world, belongs to the African continent, cherishes its Asian Dimension and contributes to building human civilization. Egypt is located in the heart of the world.

How many black pharaohs were there? ›

There the Nubian king Piye became the first of a succession of five "black pharaohs" who ruled Egypt for six decades with the blessing of the Egyptian priesthood.

Who named Egypt Egypt? ›

' The name 'Egypt' itself actually comes to us from the Greeks who gave the Land that name (i.e. 'Aegyptos' from the Greek).

Which Egyptian dynasty was black? ›

The 25th Dynasty, also known as the Nubian Dynasty, or Black Pharaohs, ruled Egypt between 744 BC and 656 BC as part of the wider Kushite Empire.

Where did Egyptian art come from? ›

Egyptian art and architecture, the ancient architectural monuments, sculptures, paintings, and applied crafts produced mainly during the dynastic periods of the first three millennia bce in the Nile valley regions of Egypt and Nubia.

What is true about Egyptian art? ›

Egyptian artists embraced two-dimensionality and attempted to provide the most representational aspects of each element in the scenes rather than attempting to create vistas that replicated the real world.

How was Egyptian art created? ›

Ancient Egyptians created both monumental and smaller sculptures, using the technique of sunk relief. In this technique, the image is made by cutting the relief sculpture into a flat surface, set within a sunken area shaped around the image.

How did religion affect Egyptian art? ›

Religion played a part in every aspect of the lives of the ancient Egyptians because life on earth was seen as only one part of an eternal journey, and in order to continue that journey after death, one needed to live a life worthy of continuance.

Who changed Egyptian art? ›

The seventeen-year reign of the pharaoh Amenhotep IV / Akhenaten is remarkable for the development of ideas, architecture, and art that contrast with Egypt's long tradition.

What style of art did artists ancient Egyptian use? ›

Characteristics of Ancient Egyptian Art

The art style is known for its distinctive figure conventions used in both reliefs and paintings. The abstract, blocky art was distinct from the naturalistic styles later seen in Greece and Rome.

What is ancient Egyptian art introduction? ›

Ancient Egyptian art is the painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by the civilization in the Nile Valley from 5000 BCE to 300 CE. Ancient Egyptian art reached considerable sophistication in painting and sculpture , and was both highly stylized and symbolic.

How does Egyptian art reflect its culture? ›

Egyptian art reflected an idealized world and ignored any part of the world that did not fit the ideal. Egyptian art also incorporated certain fictions in order to express a larger truth. For example, Egyptian temple art always showed the king presiding over rituals.

How does ancient Egyptian art affect us today? ›

The Egyptians' greatest impact on modern art was part of a style called Art Deco. This modern art, architecture, and design movement featured clean, simple, symmetrical, streamlined looks with ornamentation.

Did ancient Egyptian art change? ›

The history of their art is almost as old as that of the Ancient Egyptian civilisation itself and changed very little over the 3000 years that the society reigned over the river Nile.

Why did Egyptian art never change? ›

Egyptian art wasn't supposed to change, focusing on adherence to a particular form; their art didn't focus on creativity or innovation. A statue was carved to last for eternity, using the same techniques for carving that were developed over hundreds of years.

What was the first Egyptian art? ›

The earliest art is handcrafted pottery with a surface ripple that potters created by running a comb over the surface. This pottery was made during the Badarian period (4400–3800 b.c.e.), named after the village of Badari where archaeologists first found it.

Was Egyptian art realistic? ›

Egyptian art balanced realism and stylization to present images of harmony, balance and order. This style was clearly intentional and very important to the ancient Egyptians, leading to an amazing degree of consistency in their art.

Is Africa the birthplace of art? ›

Africa is the cradle of humankind

Africa is steeped in creativity that dates back thousands of years. It preserves a magnificent rock art record that spans the prehistoric era right up until the 19th century. It could be argued that the world's first artists were Africans.

Where did African art come from? ›

The first examples of African art include paintings made on rocks and on the interior walls and ceilings of caves. The earliest specimens are works from 23,000 BCE found in the Apollo 11 Cave in Namibia, including depictions of animals and human figures.

Why did Egyptians draw people like that? ›

The answer is simple: they sought to provide the most representational aspects of each person rather than aspiring for realism. At a glance, the viewer would be able to see all the elements that were most important, rendered from the most recognizable angle and then grouped together to create the whole.

How did ancient Egypt fall? ›

The Roman fleet of Octavian (later Emperor Augustus) clashes with the combined Roman-Egyptian fleet commanded by Mark Antony and Cleopatra in the Battle of Actium off the coast of Greece during the Roman Civil War, 31 B.C. The battle was a decisive victory for Octavian, and marked the end of the last of the Egyptian ...

What race built the pyramids? ›

It was the Egyptians who built the pyramids.

Were Egyptian slaves branded? ›

While many people brand cattle and other livestock with a burning iron, slaves in ancient Egypt also suffered the same fate. According to new archaeological evidence, slaves would be forcibly branded to show they were the property of the Pharaoh.

Were Hebrews enslaved in Egypt? ›

Genesis and Exodus

The Egyptians appear to have called them Hebrews and enslaved them. The Israelites, by then organised into twelve tribes, escaped from servitude, spending forty years wandering in the wilderness of Sinai.

How many slaves built the pyramids? ›

Indeed, the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus (also writing in the 5th Century BCE) specifies that the pyramids were built with slave labor – 100,000 slaves, to be exact – though he does not mention Israelites at all.

What did ancient Egyptian slaves eat? ›

Peasants and enslaved people would, of course, eat a limited diet, including the staples of bread and beer, complemented by dates, vegetables, and pickled and salted fish, but the wealthy had a much larger range to choose from.

Who did the Egyptians worship? ›

Ancient Egyptians worshipped gods such as Amun-Ra, the hidden one; Osiris, the king of the living; and Horus, the god of vengeance. Q: What role did religion play in ancient Egypt?

Who saved the Egyptian slaves? ›

The Prophet defied his adopted family to free the slaves in Egypt.

Were the pyramids built by slaves? ›

But in reality, most archaeologists and historians today think that paid laborers, not enslaved people, built the Pyramids of Giza. A few archeological findings support this theory. Deceased builders were buried in a place of honor: tombs close to the pyramids themselves, furnished with supplies for the afterlife.

Did slaves get paid for working? ›

Some enslaved people received small amounts of money, but that was the exception not the rule. The vast majority of labor was unpaid.

What did the colors mean in ancient Egypt? ›

Red, the colour of power, indicated life and victory, plus anger and fire. Green symbolized new life, growth, and fertility, while blue represented creation and rebirth, and yellow stood for the eternal, such as the sun and gold.

Who is the Egyptian god of black? ›

Anubis was depicted in black, a color that symbolized regeneration, life, the soil of the Nile River, and the discoloration of the corpse after embalming. Anubis is associated with his brother Wepwawet, another Egyptian god portrayed with a dog's head or in canine form, but with grey or white fur.

What does black represent? ›

What does black symbolize? Historically, the color black has been used to represent mourning, sadness, and darkness. This is why funeral attendees typically wear black outfits. However, black can also symbolize power and elegance.

Was black death from Egypt? ›

The Byzantine historian Procopius first reported the epidemic in 541 A.D. from the port of Pelusium (near Suez in Egypt). The outbreak in Constantinople was thought to have been carried to the city by infected rats (and fleas) on grain boats arriving from Egypt.

What is the color for god? ›

While gold represents God's deity, black represents suffering and death in the Bible.

What does purple mean in Egypt? ›

In ancient Egypt, purple dyes were often reserved for royalty or those of high status, especially the highly valued Tyrian purple made from molluscs. But, by the time the portrait in question was painted, purple had been democratised and was used by all social strata.

What does green mean in Egypt? ›

In Ancient Egypt, perhaps unsurprisingly, the colour green was associated with life and vegetation. However, it was also linked with the ideas of death. In fact, Osiris, the Egyptian god of fertility, death and afterlife, was commonly portrayed as having green skin.

What is the black god real name? ›

Meet Czernobog, the Black God

Alternatively known as Chernabog, Chornoboh, and Tchernobog, the god we meet is a deity of the west Slavic tribes of the 12th century.

Who is known as black god? ›

Black God (Haashchʼééshzhiní), sometimes referred to as Darkness to Be One by Tony Hillerman, is the god of fire and creator of the stars in Navajo mythology. Not all accounts credit him with the creation of the constellations, but all credit him with the creation of fire and light as found in the stars.

Who is the strongest black god? ›

Sango is regarded as the most powerful god in Africa and one of the most popular gods around the world. He is the god of vengeance, protection, social order and more. His symbol is a double headed-axe.

What color means black? ›

In color psychology, black's color meaning is symbolic of mystery, power, elegance, and sophistication. In contrast, the color meaning can also evoke emotions such as sadness and anger. Many fashion retailers have used black in their logos. Black is also a popular color for text as it's an easy color to read.

Why black is special? ›

Sure, all of these colors can spark other sentiments too. But black color has a special full-spectrum status when it comes to the feelings it reflects. “Power, elegance, sophistication, status, formality. Evil, death, grief, mourning, the occult.

What is the darkest black color? ›

The original Vantablack coating was grown from a chemical vapour deposition process (CVD) and is claimed to be the "world's darkest material", absorbing up to 99.965% of visible light measured perpendicular to the material.

Were the original Egyptians black? ›

Ancient Egyptians Were Likely To Be Ethnically Diverse

Instead, they simply classified themselves by the regions where they lived. Scholarly research suggests there were many different skin colours across Egypt, including what we now call white, brown and black. But this is still a subject of much debate.

Who was the last black pharaoh of Egypt? ›



1. “Kevin Hart and Blackness of Ancient Egyptians” - Dr. Molefi Kete Asante
(Molefi Kete Asante Institute Lectures)
2. Pro-African REACTS to Netflix Cleopatra Controversy
3. The Crown That Proves That Ancient Egypt Was Black
(Mr. Imhotep)
4. Cleopatra Bombs So Actress Calls Egypt Racist
(Jesse Grant)
5. Were Ancient Egyptians White or Black Answer Revealed in Africa's Ancient History
6. A History of Fake Ancient Egyptian Statues
(HomeTeam History)


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