The ancestry of Ancient Egypt – a long read

While listening to student’s questions and debates, there is something that has emerged in discussions a few times, and it is thorny issue indeed. Discussions on the topic in wider social media range from silly to down right offensive, which is to be expected, but there seems to be little sensible discussion around this topic. While it does not appear directly related to magic per se, (but it is, as the Egypt pattern is still alive in western magic to this day) it is affecting many students in a variety of ways, particularly magical students who are African Americans. Because of this, I feel it necessary to add to the debate in an attempt to try and bring a bit of clarity to the debate, but also to look at the magical implications. So I am approaching this not as someone who has roots in Africa, but as a magical teacher: my job is to ensure that students are able to progress in the magical studies and not be held back by something when it is not necessary.

The argument in question that is coming up is whether ancient Egypt was ‘black’ or ‘white’ (African or European). As you can see, this can turn into a very sticky debate as there are many different agendas on both sides of the argument. The debate arose as a result of racial politics most commonly found but not exclusive to the USA. Ancient Egypt was one of the great founding civilisations that we know of (though not the only one), and the majority of information sources that can be drawn from the internet about Ancient Egypt are often simplistic, incorrect, ill-informed or heavily agenda drive. 1 karnak

Because ancestral work is an important part of magic and the mysteries, it is a difficult subject that must not be ignored, for many different reasons. It would be easy for me to keep out of the debate, but that would be cowardly – I am sure I will attract ‘lightening strikes’ from both sides of the debate, but as a magical teacher, I cannot hide from that: it is my responsibility to help students navigate their way through such situations that could serve to hobble their progress.

Before I get into the question of where Ancient Egyptians came from, there are a couple of basic things that need clarity. One is the misuse of the term Pharaonic Egypt – that was a term that most probably arose from the writings of Manetho, a Ptolemaic (305 to 30 BC) Egyptian priest who translated a lot of Egyptian works into Greek.

The use of the term ‘Pharaoh’ comes from the word pr-ˤ3, which means ‘great house’ or palace. The first documented (translated by A Gardiner) use of it in reference to a king was in a letter to Akhenaten. From the nineteenth dynasty, it was occasionally used as a term akin to ‘his Majesty’, but it was never really a formal title of the king. So the term ‘Pharaonic Egypt’ doesn’t really mean much at all. It would be better to term the period of Egyptian kings as ‘Dynastic Egypt’.



It might appear picky, but in today’s crazy world of bad information, it is a good habit to get into to be as clear and accurate as you can be.

The other basic thing that needs bringing into the debate before we dig further into this is the understanding that Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt were fairly different racially and also to an extent, culturally. Lower Egypt generally became the centre of kingship power and administration (Memphis) and yes, I know this and the following statements are generalising a lot, but it is an overview…. And Upper Egypt was more towards the spiritual heart of Egypt (Abydos, Waset/Thebes etc).

The other thing that is tough for people, particularly in the USA to understand, but to some extent is not thought about generally, is that people approach this from a racial perspective when it is about territory. People think, ‘oh the Egyptians were Egyptians, and the Nubians were African’. To start with, there was no such concept as ‘Africa’ then, there were territories, and the tribes in each territory were a genetic mix to a greater or lesser degree.

For example in Britain, to folks around the world, the British are one ‘race’ and all look alike. But they are not. In England, the south, south east and midlands tend to be more Saxon and Norman than anything else, with smatterings of Roman etc. But some areas like parts of Yorkshire, the folks are more Celtic and Viking than anything else. Go west to Wales, and Cornwall, and you have more of the ‘old Brits’ mixed with Celt, genetic remnants of the folks who were there before the Roman invasion, and in the Scottish Highlands it is different again. They range from small, dark hair and dark eyes, to tall blond blue eyes, and the startling red hair of the Viking blood.

So if you transplanted the same attitude onto Britain that is currently being used over Egypt, you would have one side saying that the Brits are all Germanic Saxon blond hair blue eyed, and the short dark Celt would stand in the corner and blink in confusion. They were there before the Romans, Saxons and Normans came, and before the Celts arrived, there were the original Brits and Picts, that we know little about. No one race can claim Britain, and no one group can exclude the early settlers either.

The story of Egypt is similar…. Early indigenous settlers, and other local tribes expanded into the territory, and some folks from further away trickled in over time through waves of trade, migration and war.  I find it interesting that people who love Britain from afar romanticise about the Celts and think that it is a Celtic country, but those same people refuse to accept or understand the African blood roots of a country in Africa.

I think it best at this point to say why it is so important that this debate is looked at in the cold light of day for magicians. Ancestral connection is a branch of magic that an adept needs to fully understand. In order for a magician to step into the deeper mystical mysteries of magic, they go through a series of processes that start at the apprentice phase of training and come to completion as an adept. One of those processes is to connect with and face their blood ancestors and also the ancestors of the land that the magician now lives in. That connection forms part of a temporary pattern that bridges power and understanding for the magician.

Once the magician has learned what they need to learn, and has settled what they need to settle, the more advanced magician in preparation for adepthood first steps back from those ancestral lines, and finally cuts them. An adept is a freestanding spirit in the universe who is not held back by nor governed by ancestral baggage, suffering, ties, or calls for revenge. Before the adept can disconnect from those lines, he or she needs to fully immerse in work with those ties, and also learn how much of an influence ancestral spirits can have upon the living. 077 SHAMANESSsml.jpg

Many people these days do not know who their ancestors are beyond two or a few generations, and that knowledge is not important magically, as the magician learns how to connect magically with any blood ancestor of theirs who is willing to connect with them. However, when you come to a large group of people who were ripped from their own lands, shipped around the world en-masse as part of the slave trade, and had their culture, language, history, and family torn from them, you are into a whole different ball game. Such events have a massive collective psychic impact that resonates for generations.

It is one thing to not know who your great great grandmother was, it is another thing entirely to not know what country, what blood line, what religion, what culture you come from. When that is multiplied by millions, you have a collective consciousness that is bereft of roots. Unless you have experienced that, you cannot even begin to perceive what a huge impact it has on the psyche of the people, nor how it cascades down the generations as an open wound.

So it is not surprising that people of African American descent look to Africa for role models/roots/identity, and Egypt is one big shining light of civilisation that can be drawn upon to root oneself in a sense of ancestral identity and pride – it is one of Africa’s greatest success stories.

Of course this does not fit with the Eurocentric sense of ownership of the roots of civilisation. Two different narratives emerge from this sense of Eurocentric ownership, particularly in magical circles. One is that Egypt was just a corrupt African country where kings married their sisters (a short period of time in a long civilisation) and that Greece was really the cauldron of civilisation. The other is that Egypt was essentially a ‘white’ country (blink…). Both of those narratives are historically wrong, but the truth, as always, is far more complex than it appears on the surface, and is an uncomfortable truth as its complexity does not fit with any specific narrative, be it white, black or purple.

In today’s world of sound bites, memes, and bullet point information, complexities get kicked into the long grass and ignored. While many people are comfortable with that as it serves their various narratives, it does not serve a magician well. Maat_jk_TNBeing a magician is to be understand and work with the complexities of the universe, and to not turn away from balance and truth, two qualities that both magic and Egypt were founded upon.

So let us have a look at what we know about the ancestral roots of Egypt, both from science, observation, texts and common sense. The picture, when stripped of narratives, politics and agendas, is astonishing, and is also a good example of how we in the modern world, regardless of which culture or country we come from, and whether we are black, white, purple, or green with yellow spots, should get along. What I will say is though, as I was doing some research for this blog post, I did expect to bump up against racial narratives on both sides. I have to say I was shocked at the subtle level of racism I found in European science. Taking data and cherry picking how that data is presented, and leaving out obvious elements seems to be the norm – very depressing. But rejecting science is not the way to go.

Science is good, it is very helpful to us – so it is important to look at science, and then look at the narrative – if the narrative is stacked, then you reject the narrative, but you look at the actual science in its bar bones. Where there is not enough science, then you use intelligence and common sense, and also spot your own narrative trying to creep in.

The first thing to look at is the geographical location of Egypt. north africa mapIt sits at a crossroads between north Coastal Africa, Sudan/Nubia, the Levant and Arabian peninsula, and is in close proximity to not only the very ancient trade and migration routes from the east, but also the migration routes probably taken from the Sahel region of Africa when the Saharan desert started to slowly dry up (5/4500BC to approx. 2000BC).

If you look at this map of North Africa and surrounding regions, not only will you see the territories of influence, you will also see the band of the Sahara desert. Until it turned into the vast desert we now know, it was a vast area of lush land that we know was populated. When it started drying up, people at the time didn’t think, ‘of we cannot go east as there is a perfect river environment there, but it will be populated by white people in the future’ (which is essentially what the current Eurocentric narrative is), rather people migrated in stages to the nearest land they could find food and water: they went north, south, west and east. These people were Africans, with African physique/features. With them they carried their cultural wealth of knowledge.

An interesting archaeological find that should potentially be part of this branch (Saharan) of the narrative of the origins of very early Egyptian peoples, is the Tashwinat Mummy, found in Uan Muhuggiag (now SW Libya Saharan region). The mummy is of a small child that was embalmed, and was, as the researchers put it, of ‘Negroid skull features’. It dates to 3600BC, a good thousand years before Egyptians began mummification. These are fragments of details that should be looked at properly, in case there are threads of connections, but are not as they do not fit the narrative. But if it quacks like a duck….. at least is shows that those techniques were kicking around North Africa fairly early on. Here are some details of that mummy.

Tashwinat Mummy

“The most noteworthy find at Uan Muhuggiag is the well-preserved mummy of a young boy of approximately 2 1/2 years old. The child was in a fetal position, then embalmed, then placed in a sack made of antelope skin, which was insulated by a layer of leaves. The boy’s organs were removed, as evidenced by incisions in his stomach and thorax, and an organic preservative was inserted to stop his body from decomposing. An ostrich eggshell necklace was also found around his neck. Radiocarbon dating determined the age of the mummy to be approximately 5600 years old, which makes it about 1000 years older than the earliest previously recorded mummy in ancient Egypt. In 1958-1959, an archaeological expedition led by Antonio Ascenzi conducted anthropological, radiological, histological and chemical analyses on the Uan Muhuggiag mummy. The specimen was determined to be that of a 30-month old child of uncertain sex, who possessed Negroid features.”

So the early Egyptians were from Saharan Africa? Well, its not that simple… nothing ever is. The earliest DNA analysis (Max Plank Institute) of Ancient Egyptians is from the period span of 1400BC to 400BC and that was from one narrow area, so we have to use common sense, logic, and the tracking or artefacts. In the Naqada culture (Chalcolithic pre dynastic Egypt 4400-3000BC) that was centred around Qena (Upper Egypt, near modern day Luxor) downwards to the second cataract,  there were finds that show depictions of white skin and blue eyes in statues.Predynastic, Naqada I. 4000-3600 BC.

The blue eyes are made of Lapis, which only comes from an area in what is now Afghanistan, so that is some pretty distant trading at a very early stage of Egypt’s formation. The white skin/blue eyes likely come from the west Asian/Eurasian areas that are now Anatolia, Turkmenistan, Northern Iran, and into Afghanistan – it is one of two genetic anomalies (the other coming from South Africa) that we know of that causes blue eyes, and the arrival into the Nile area of such people early on, or the knowledge of such people via traders must have seemed unearthly at the time – people are fascinated by differences. So we have very early traders or migrating peoples who have this anomaly of white skin and blue eyes, and the NW Asian gene shows up clearly in the much later mummies… we will come back to them later.

The other curve ball to throw into the mix is early finds in the Naqada culture of seals both from, and also copied from Sumerian city states, which at that time were far more developed as a culture that the toddler Egypt. This mix by Sumerian interlopers also shows up in much later Egyptian DNA, and comes from the areas we know now as southern Iraq, the gulf states, and into Jordan.

There is also what is known as the A-group (3800 but could be as early as 4400-3100BC), an early civilisation on the Nile valley, and what eventually became known as Nubia – it stretched from Aswan down to the second cataract. The cemeteries showed an advanced people of sophistication and wealth, and predate dynastic Egypt by at least 300yrs. Here are some excerpts from a news report on the finds – the news report is dated 1979.

“the discovery is expected to stimulate a new appraisal of the origins of civilization in Africa, raising the question of to what extent later Egyptian culture may have derived its advanced political structure from the Nubians. The various symbols of Nubian royalty that have been found are the same as those associated, in later times, with Egyptian kings.

The new findings suggest that the ancient Nubians may have reached this stage of political development as long ago as 3300 B.C., several generations before the earliest documented Egyptian king.

The discovery is based on study of artifacts from ancient tombs excavated 15 years ago in an international effort to rescue archeological deposits before the rising waters of the Aswan Dam covered them.

The artifacts, including hundreds of fragments of pottery, jewelry, stone vessels, and ceremonial objects such as incense burners, were initially recovered from the Qustul cemetery by Keith C. Seele, a professor at the University of Chicago. The cemetery, which contained 33 tombs that were heavily plundered in ancient times, was on the Nile near the modern boundary between Egypt and the Sudan.

……..The majestic figure on the incense burner, Dr. Williams said, is the earliest known representation ‘of a king in the Nile Valley. His name is unknown, but he is believed to have lived approximately three generations of kings before the time of Scorpion, the earliest known Egyptian ruler. Scorpion was one of three kings said to have ruled Egypt before the start of what is called the first dynasty around 3050 B.C.

Dr. Williams said the dating is based on correlations of artistic styles in the Nubian pottery with similar styles in predynastic Egyptian pottery, which is relatively well dated.

He said some of the Nubian artifacts bore disconnected symbols resembling those of Egyptian hieroglyphics that were not readable.

Just a technical point – when people talk about the ‘Nubian culture’ during the Naqada period, there really was not two different cultures – there were a variety of people living along the Nile valley area, the separation came in with the early phases of the First Dynasty.

So…… in Upper Egypt we have a bunch of people living in a perfect environment for civilisation (water, abundant food, no heavy lifting to survive). There is a mix of African, NW Eurasian, and Sumerian dudes hanging out and swapping stories, skills and arguments. This went on for hundreds of years (Naqada I 4400BC, through Naqada II 3500-3200BC to Naqada III 3500 to 3100 early Dynastic period)… Egypt didn’t exist as an identity at that point.

Common sense tells us there would have been a flow back and forth between the various peoples over hundreds of years, and slowly through the Naqada III period, distinction became made between two territories: Egypt and the land of the Bow. By the end of the Naqada III period (3100BC give or take a few years) these two territories came into conflict, probably over resources and wealth. Bow was rich in gold, ivory, carnelian, incense resins, and ebony which they traded further north, something the dudes further north really liked and wanted for themselves.


With the advent of the first overall Egyptian king, Narmer/Menes which was around 3100BC, a conflict arose that ended with a line drawn to define the territory of the two lands (Upper and Lower Egypt or Kemet), and the territory of the Bow (Nubia).

It is hypothesized that with that conflict, the people of the Bow left that region unoccupied for some 500 years, only to return later. However there were finds in that area (land of the Bow) that showed continuation of trade and settlement, which is explained away as an ‘Egyptian outpost’ in vague terms. There were signs of local inhabitants trading and copper mining in the 2nd Dynasty, and a possibility of an Egyptian incursion in the 4th dynasty under Sneferu, but the Egyptians were booted out in the 5th dynasty (ancient graffiti left clues). We have no idea why the Egyptians were there, whether they were traders, or whether they had a military outpost, or whether they were occupiers – we just don’t know.

A massive fortress and settlement was built there by Senusret III (12th dynasty 1860BC) and there was trouble back and forth between the two sides until Egypt was again booted out in the 20th dynasty. So it is not as straight forward as the narrative assumes. We can never know any more now because of the flooding in the region with the Aswan dam.

There is also a lot of contradiction regarding this area in history terms, either through carelessness, ignorance of history, or intent. This is a good example – this is a wiki page about Nubia ( I know….wiki…. but this example is a good warning about accuracy for folks trying to search for themselves). It rightly states a lot of the archaeological history of the area, but the article starts out by stating:  It was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa, with a history that can be traced from at least 2000 BC onward. . Really? I don’t think so buddy…. Finds date back to at least 3500BC. See how little subtle mistakes can change people’s understanding of their own history. This is why it is so important to read everything carefully, cross check things, and not skim over texts.

The way the narrative is told in education is that the Egyptians were a distinct race, and the Nubians were a distinct race, and when they clashed, the Egyptians won (which they did). But that is like saying that the war between Scotland and England was a war between two distinct races. It’s not that simple: both sides were mixes of each other. It was not a war of race, but one of culture, politics and resources. It is an age old story: neighbouring tribal territories develop differences, they clash, usually over resources, and slowly over time they develop in to separate nations.

It is very likely that the clash between the ‘Land of the Bow’ and the early dynastic culture in Upper Egypt was one of resources, politics and territory. Both sides were very likely mixes of each other in terms of genetics, but after that clash, and the founding of Dynastic Egypt, a firm line was drawn between the two. That in turn would have led, over a thousand years, to the ‘Egyptians having less Nubian influence, and in turn, the Nubians having less Egyptian influence. Those are cultural distinctions, not racial ones.

The story of the Land of the Bow (became Nubia) and Egypt, is similar in many ways to the story of the Roman incursions into Britain. They pushed north in Britain over a hundred years or so, building forts and towns as they went. pictsWhen they got quite far north (what is now northern England) they met a bunch of Ancient Britons and Picts who were terrifying: they had a pretty good tribal structure going, and were adept fighters. They harassed the Romans and basically beat them up on a regular basis, and the Romans found themselves in a cold misty wet boggy land populated by terrifying warriors. So they built a large wall (Hadrians Wall), and on their side, it was the last outpost of the Roman Empire, and beyond the wall, ‘there be dragons’….

The newly forming Egyptian culture in its early dynastic phase, drew a line and decided that before that line, it was Egypt, and beyond that line it was the Land of the Bow, another ‘there be dragons’ type of territory that they could not govern, despite it having rich resources. The people of the Bow told the Egyptians to fuck off, and the Egyptians decided it was too much trouble. That divide is one of territory, on the same land, on the same river, with each side having a similar genetic history.

The Land of the Bow was more African than anything, and the Egyptians were African with a mix of other interlopers that created a more complex genetic picture. One was not better than the other: the People of the Bow were obviously civilised, sophisticated and resourced, and the Egyptians were also. The knowledge that was brought from the Sumerian city states likely added structure to the emerging Egyptians, as the Sumerians had been city building for a long time before they hit Egypt, but it is also likely, particularly in light of the finds in Bow, that the People of the Bow also had structure/civilisation. Whether they also got it from the Sumerian city states (when everyone was more connected during the Naqada periods), or whether they had it from other unknown African civilisations, we will never know as the Aswan Dam covered all evidence, and there is very little resources put into archaeology in Africa. But my guess is, that there were many varied developed societies in Ancient Africa, but no one has really bothered to look properly.

Now having read all of that, and looked at the 1979 article, now look at this ‘educational’ site and read it very carefully…. The racial undertones of the narrative are subtle, but they are there..  note how it subtly suggests that the Egyptians were in full swing… which they were not quite.–3100-bc

“In addition to maintaining trade contacts with Egypt, A-Group rulers employed symbols that were used by Egyptian pharaohs of that time.”

There were no ‘Pharaohs’ at that time, the first king of the two lands was the founder of the first Dynasty –  Narmer/Menes which was around 3100BC. These finds are 3300BC there abouts… and it is assuming that the proto hieroglyphs came from pre dynastic Egypt and were carried/copied by the ‘Nubians’.  Bear in mind these peoples had been living alongside each other culturally, with no territory separation that we know of (like different tribal groups in the same area, not distinct different civilisations) for nearly a thousand years. But note the subtle use of language to say that one ‘lower group’ copied off of a ‘higher group’. This is the sort of language you have to watch out for. In truth, we don’t know. In truth both groups used the same script and we do not know how that came about. Here is a clip from that article:  ‘

“Some Nubian seal impressions depict a bow above a rectangle, probably the earliest writing of Ta-Seti, “Land of the Bow,” an ancient Egyptian name for Nubia. The A-Group flourished until it was destroyed by pharaohs of Egypt’s First Dynasty around 3100 BC. Much of northern Nubia was not inhabited for centuries afterwards, at least partly because of Egyptian military action. There is evidence of some occupation during this time, however; a settlement at Buhen near the 2nd cataract, with Egyptian and Nubian pottery, may have been a base for trade or copper working during the Egyptian Old Kingdom (2686–2125 BC).”

Then….. you also have the Berber/Maghreb DNA influence in the mix, which makes it even more complicated.

Also, the latest DNA information also shows a story of the African return genetic line showing up in North Africa (and many other parts of Africa) around 3000BC.

and a news report summary

The NW Asian/Eurasian (not European as many tend to think unless someone redefined Europe’s borders/cultures/genetic make up when I wasn’t looking)… input into the gene pool was… and this is in ‘Josephine humour speak’…. something like this……and yes, it is vastly simplified, but it makes the point.

Some adventurous Africans decided to search new horizons. They pushed north and east, spreading out, doing their thing, shagging a few Neanderthals and other early humans as they went along (or being shagged by them). Through necessity they learned skills,  traded a few skills, and went through some genetic anomalies (example, blue eyes tracking back to one person’s genetic hiccup)

One day someone pushed out a baby that had blue eyes, and everyone gathered around and said, ‘whoah, that looks weird’… they all turned to the father and said, ‘shag me, I want one with blue eyes too… it looks really weird’. The father dutifully obliged, and soon, these ancient adventurers from Africa had lots of blue eyed screaming toddlers running around.

Life was tough in this high plateau area, and they had to learn how to work the land to get food: it was not the garden of Eden that their ancient ancestor stories told them about where they could pick fruit off the tree, and catch game easily. garden edenThey developed agricultural techniques but the work was long and hard. One day, someone said, ‘why the fuck did our ancient ancestors leave paradise? Let’s try and find our way back to it.

They met traders who told about this wonderful land where it was warm, where there was always water, a rich land that grew anything, and people had time for things like developing art, skills, early writing, lots of shagging and lying around in the sun. It sounded a lot like their ‘garden’ in the ancestral tales. So off them went.

They arrived in the Nile valley eventually (sometime in the Naqada II or III period), and found a mix of people there, and they slid right into the mix. The folks in the Nile valley saw that some of their new guests had blue eyes, and thought that they were mega cool, and the returners found a really interesting mix of folks to make friends with, and yeah, also shag with. Remember, civilisations are founded on food resources that can be gotten with the least possible work, and lots of sex. People never really change.

As early dynastic Egypt developed, Lower Egypt was more of a place of mixing of peoples back and forth through trade, and Upper Egypt likely stayed more stable, with its trade back and forth at times with Nubia in the south. So you have two fairly distinct communities in terms of genetics – same but different. But nothing ever stays the same, and Egypt certainly didn’t.

So let’s zoom forward in time a bit, to the end of the Middle Kingdom. By the end of the 12th dynasty, around 1800BC Egypt was starting to see Canaanite (southern Levant) settlers in Lower Egypt. This was a tumultuous time in Egypt, and saw the end of the Middle Kingdom and the beginning of the second Intermediate period, which was basically chaos. By the 13th dynasty, Egypt had a Semitic speaking king, Khendjer /Userkare.

He was king for no more than about 4 years, and was one in a line of ineffective rulers trying to rule over a country in meltdown. Egypt_Hyksos_PeriodBy the 15th Dynasty (1650 – 1550 BC) we have the Hyksos invaders who set up their own kings and generally went around annoying people for quite some time.

And it is now being hypothosised that the Hyksos were also from Western Asia – those dudes just kept migrating over and over…. Though the winters are pretty tough up there so you can’t blame them.

So you begin to see that Egypt has a very long, detailed, complicated and genetically mixed history that began in an African cradle, but grew up in a wider foster family of African, West Asian/returners, near and middle easterners, and god knows who else.

These folks all intermingled (remember people like sex), and all considered themselves Egyptians. They did not differentiate between skin colour, only whether you were ‘in’ the club as an Egyptian or whether you were a foreigner. And even that club changed many times.

For example, Nubians were at times considered Egyptian, a brother nation, trading cousins, enemies, and best friends.

10_6_EgyptianRaces book of gates

This is well depicted in the Book of Gates, a New Kingdom funerary text that has in it, in the 6th hour, a depiction of the four races that make up Egypt and friends of Egypt. In the 6th hour, it is showing how these different peoples are all acceptable to the Egyptian gods, and while they may at times be from different cultures, they are also acceptable to the Gods and therefore the people.

The Egyptians show themselves as red/ brown skinned, which you would expect with the racial mix over the centuries, and then they depict the Levant, Nubian, and NW Asian/Assyrian, which are essentially the actual DNA lines that run through the early Ancient Egyptians – they are all brothers.

By the time you get to the late 18th dynasty, you get a really heady mix in the gene pool, and also more of a series of divisions: the nobility and rulers often had different ancestry to the local people they ruled, and also by this time the lower Egypt/Upper Egypt gene pool was likely quite different…. Lower Egypt was far more diverse as it is far closer to all the crossroads, so the African blood became a weaker signal over time, and Upper Egypt retained more of its African roots, but with a good sprinkling of the northern interlopers.

This is why the Max Plank Institute study is so ‘off the wall’.

In terms of science, it is very interesting, but historically? Pah…. To try to say that 90 mummies from 1400BC to 400BC (already late in Egyptian terms) all from Lower Egypt outside Memphis… who were all likely noble remains, that it is indicative of the whole genetic picture of the sum total of Dynastic Egypt and all its people, is beyond silly…. It is insulting to the intelligence. This is a map, using colour coding to show the two lands.(note: Memphis was lower Egypt, not Middle Egypt as stated in the articles about this study… the two lands had two land areas…middle Egypt is a more modern idea. Egypt was called the two lands of lower and upper Egypt, not the three lands!)

two lands

To finish, the late dynasties saw waves of invasions, settlers and cultural/genetic ‘injections’ into the soup. This started with the arrival in the 7th century BC of Greek colonies, mainly for trade, and then the Persian conquest of Egypt in 525BC with the battle of Pelusium, where Cambyses II (son of Cyrus the Great) became Pharaoh. Then we had Alexander III of Macedon (Alexander the Great) who became Pharaoh in 332BC.



Then we had the Ptolemaic dynasties (who were Macedonian Greeks) who were the last dynasty in Egypt, which finished with Cleopatra (who was Greek, not Egyptian).

In 30BC it became a Roman province, and in 42AD it became Christian. 20 years after the 619 AD Sassanian Persian invasion, in 639AD with the Arab invasion, Egypt became a Muslim country.

So Egypt, from its beginnings in 4400BC to the end of the Dynastic period in 30BC, it was a melting pot of cultures, genetics, and bad habits. nubia mother childEgypt’s mother was African, and her children were both African and also a varied selection of foster children from all over the place.

No one group can claim Egypt as theirs, but rather we can celebrate the fact that over its vast span of time as an ancient culture, it seeded wisdom, knowledge, tolerance of differences, and a vast intelligence that we should all be in awe of.

But we should also not forget that it all started with a bunch of African folks getting their shit together and building the foundation of a civilisation that has yet to be rivalled.





About Josephine McCarthy

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11 Responses to The ancestry of Ancient Egypt – a long read

  1. Pingback: The Ancestry of Ancient Egypt (Re-Blogged) | Fanny Fae

  2. Kevin Price says:

    Wow! It is this mixture of nuance, common sense, and intuition that convinces me that you are one of the most important voices in magic. The fact that you are also funny, direct, and humble also adds a lot. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Kevin, that is very kind of you!


  4. A.D. Silver says:

    It’s refreshing to see well written articles on this topic that cover the facts in the only reasonable interpretation. Thank you for articulating what so many need to hear; that Egypt is not for one ethnic group, but a starting point, if anything, for everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. fannyfae says:

    You and I have discussed this, but I wanted to say that I cannot thank you enough for putting together such an articulate and well-researched article. From now on any time someone opens their mouths to claim that the Ancient Egyptians were one race or the other, I know exactly where I will send them to read and learn a lot more about the topic than is available anywhere else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Fanny. I was reading an article put out this morning about the urgency for archaeology in Sudan, but even that article was still putting Nubian civilisation at about 1500BC….. a good 2000 years too late. I just don’t get it, whether it is lazy journalism, lazy scholarship or just ignorance, as the evidence is all there.


  6. Black Lady says:

    Thank you. As a beginner student that was contemplating the Quareia course and also the profound quareia deck, I appreciate this article. Magic is hard enough and as a black American who has permanently lost their homeland and tribe of origin forever this was a good read. After this I feel more comfortable startinb the course and magic in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Black Lady says:

    Thank you again. Iam just thrilled that a white person understands this and acknowledges ancient diversity and isn’t contemptuous of black people. I am keeping the article as part of my magical studies.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. AlienFox says:

    This was an absolutely fascinating and entertaining read – no surprises there! Thank you so much 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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