Tracking the movements and establishing the identity of peoples in the archaeological and historical records is a difficult and often ambiguous project. Physical anthropology is the best source of identification, but the early misuse of the “race concept” created overly simplistic definitions driven more by colonialism and racism than by science. Modern studies based on population genetics are much more complex and yield more ambiguous results. Historical linguistic evidence, especially names, is also used to establish group identities where historical records exist, as is often the case in Egypt and the surrounding regions. Archaeological data have been used to reconstruct the identity of ethnic groups in two ways: by characterizing artifact assemblages as culture areas, without necessarily establishing that they belong to a historically known group; and by matching groups identified in texts with an artifact assemblage. Unlike physical anthropology and linguistics, archaeological evidence is abundant and relatively easy to analyze, but all studies of this kind rest on the important assumption that a given artifact assemblage does in fact represent a cultural identity, rather than a sphere of cultural influence or culture contact—and this may or may not be true. Radical diffusionists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries favored massive movements of peoples as the engine of cultural change. Thus W. M. Flinders Petrie's “Dynastic Race” concept linked cultural achievement with racial identity in the origins of pharaonic civilization. These models have, unfortunately, been revived by some Afrocentric scholars, who otherwise rightly emphasize Egypt's African origins. Diffusion and population movements did exist in the past, but they must be carefully demonstrated. For example, the identity of Uruk colonies (c.3500 BCE) in southern Anatolia was established by using a combination of architecture, material culture, and textual evidence. In a similar way, a combination of archaeology, text, and art history has documented an Egyptian colonial presence and the diffusion (and subsequent adaptation) of certain aspects of Egyptian iconography, ideology, and institutions in Nubia and in Syria-Palestine.

Race of the Ancient Egyptians.

The race and origins of the ancient Egyptians have been a source of considerable debate. Scholars in the late and early twentieth centuries rejected any consideration of the Egyptians as black Africans by defining the Egyptians either as non-African (i.e., either Near Eastern or Indo-Aryan), or as members of a separate brown (as opposed to black) race, or as a mixture of lighter-skinned peoples with black Africans. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Afrocentric scholars have countered this Eurocentric and often racist perspective by characterizing the Egyptians as black and African. A common feature of all of these approaches, including the last, is the connection of race to cultural achievement. At the same time, however, modern physical anthropologists have increasingly challenged the entire notion of race, replacing it with the more complex and scientifically based population genetics.

The origins of the modern conception of race derive from the work of nineteenth-century anthropologists like L. H. Morgan and E. B. Tylor, who developed “scientific” unilinear evolutionary models for the development of human beings from “savagery” to “civilization.” This model profoundly influenced early Egyptological views of race. Racial groups were ranked by evolutionary categories linked to supposed intellectual capacities based on elaborate cranial measurements, allegedly providing causal links among phenotypic traits, mental capacity, and sociopolitical dominance. This methodology, not coincidentally, reinforced the existing Euro-American domination of Third World peoples with the claim of scientifically “objective” methodologies based on race and evolution. Thus, the great achievements of ancient Egypt could not flow from black Africans, since their was an inferior race; so the “Dynastic Race” must have been white, or at least brown.

As early as 1897, Franz Boas challenged this racial ideology, in particular the argument for connections among language, culture, and biology (i.e., race). Boas demonstrated that supposedly distinctive core racial indicators could change quickly in response to clothing styles, nutrition, and cultural and environmental factors. Ashley Montague, a student of Boas, played a key role in developing and disseminating this concept; he argued in Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race (New York, 1942) that the old paradigm of static races should be replaced by dynamic populations with overlapping characteristics. Far from being absolute, genetic traits are distributed in clines, or continuously varying distributions of traits inconsistent with racial categories. Modern physical anthropology has demonstrated that 94 percent of human variation is found within human populations, rather than between the major populations traditionally labeled races. Biological characteristics affected by natural selection, migration, or drift are distributed in geographic gradations. These encompass all the features used to define racial physical “phenotypes,” including facial form, hair texture, blood type, and epidermal melanin (the chemical determining darkness of skin). These physical features cross alleged racial boundaries as if they were nonexistent, leading to the inevitable conclusion that there are no biological races, just clines. Physical anthropologists are increasingly concluding that racial definitions are the culturally defined product of selective perception and should be replaced in biological terms by the study of populations and clines. Consequently, any characterization of the race of the ancient Egyptians depends on modern cultural definitions, not scientific study. Thus, by modern American standards it is reasonable to characterize the Egyptians as “black,” while acknowledging the scientific evidence for the physical diversity of Africans.

Origins of the Egyptians in Northeastern Africa.

In spite of the evidence against scientific race, both Egyptologists and Afrocentric scholars often continue attempts to define the Egyptians as members of an essentialist racial category, usually attempting to link them either to a supposed “Caucasoid” or “Negroid/Africoid” phenotype. Such models imply that the founders of pharaonic Egypt came from sub-Saharan Africa, western Asia, or Europe/Transcaucasus. While there was some immigration from all these areas, physical anthropology has demonstrated the fundamental continuity of ancient and modern Egyptian populations. The evidence also points to linkages to other northeastern African peoples, not coincidentally approximating the modern range of languages closely related to Egyptian in the Afro-Asiatic group (formerly called Hamito-Semitic). These linguistic similarities place ancient Egyptian in a close relationship with languages spoken today in northeastern Africa as far west as Chad and south to Somalia. Archaeological evidence also strongly supports an African origin. A widespread northeastern African cultural assemblage, including distinctive multiple barbed harpoons and pottery decorated with dotted wavy line patterns, appears during the early Neolithic (also known as the Aqualithic, a reference to the mild climate of the Sahara at this time). Saharan and Sudanese rock art from this time resembles early Egyptian iconography. Strong connections between Nubian (Sudanese) and Egyptian material culture continue in the later Neolithic Badarian culture of Upper Egypt. Similarities include black-topped wares, vessels with characteristic ripple-burnished surfaces, a special tulip-shaped vessel with incised and white-filled decoration, palettes, and harpoons. The presence of formative pharaonic symbolism in the Lower Nubian A-Group royal burials at Qustul has led Bruce Williams to posit a common Egyptian-Nubian pharaonic heritage, although this notion has been much disputed. Other ancient Egyptian practices show strong similarities to modern African cultures, including divine kingship, the use of headrests, body art, circumcision, and male coming-of-age rituals, all suggesting an African substratum or foundation for Egyptian civilization (rather than diffusion from sub-Saharan Africa, as claimed by some Afrocentric scholars).

Other Peoples in Egypt.

Throughout pharaonic Egypt's long history, peoples from surrounding areas interacted with Egyptians. Many of them settled in the Nile Valley, where they assimilated to, and sometimes exerted some influence on, Egyptian culture. We can identify a number of these groups from Egyptian records, although it must be remembered that their depiction was often colored by the stereotypes of state ideology (see below). The main emphasis will be placed on groups who lived in or came to the Nile Valley in large numbers.


Nubian–Egyptian trade flourished during the late Predynastic period through the first dynasty, presumably accompanied by small numbers of expatriate traders and perhaps envoys. The Early Dynastic period raids that destroyed the Lower Nubian A-Group culture brought Nubians to Egypt as slaves and perhaps mercenaries. During the Old Kingdom, archaeological evidence from the Egyptian colonial settlement at Buhen at the Second Cataract reveals a population of impoverished Nubians, presumably slaves. Nubians are attested as soldiers and administrators during the late Old Kingdom, and large numbers of Nubian mercenaries were used during the civil wars of the First Intermediate Period. A group of these Egyptianized soldiers settled at Gebelein, where funerary stelae depict them as prosperous members of the local community. A statue of the Middle Kingdom founder Nebhepetre Mentuhotep with black skin may point to Nubian ancestry, although the use of black may simply reflect the statue's Osirian symbolism. Artistic and physical evidence suggests that his wives Ashayit, Henhenit, Kemsit, and Sadeh were probably Nubian. Nubian-style tattoos were found on women in elite burials of the period. Nubians are featured in Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan and Meir. Later images showing a black-skinned queen Ahmose Nefertari, wife and sister or half-sister of the New Kingdom's founder, Ahmose, may indicate Nubian ancestry, although, again, black may symbolize the deceased's connection with Osiris.

Vegetation in the Eastern Desert of Egypt and the Sudan could support a sizable seminomadic pastoral population. These people are identified in Egyptian sources as the Medja, who were grouped along with Nubians and depicted with the same physical appearance and dress. They have been identified archaeologically with the so-called Pan-Grave culture, whose characteristic cemeteries are found as far north as 27° north latitude in southern Upper Egypt and range into Sudanese Nubia. Archaeologically, they are related to the Lower Nubian C-Group and Upper Nubian Kerma cultures, but they represent a distinct tradition. Papyrus Boulaq records the visit of the Medja chief to the Egyptian court at Thebes in the thirteenth dynasty, attesting to close relations. Medja mercenaries were employed extensively during the Second Intermediate Period, in the seventeenth dynasty Theban campaigns to wrest control of Egypt from the Nile Delta–based Hyksos fifteenth dynasty. The characteristic Pan-Grave assemblage was found at the palace and town of Ballas, which may have served as a key staging area for the Egyptian reconquest of northern Upper Egypt and of Lower Egypt. Many Medja settled in Egypt and assimilated into Egyptian society during the Second Intermediate Period and New Kingdom. During the New Kingdom, the word “Medja” lost its ethnic connotation, becoming synonymous with “police,” attesting to the Medja's considerable reputation as soldiers. The Lower Nubian princes of Egypt's New Kingdom colonial administration may have been drawn from acculturated Medja elite. Other Egyptianized Nubians, whether of the C-Group, Medja, or (less likely) Kerman, entered New Kingdom society, often rising to prominent positions in the government.

Egypt lost control of Nubia at the end of the New Kingdom, and by about 850 BCE a new power arose at Napata in Upper Nubia. By about 750 BCE, the Nubian pharaoh Piya gained control of southern Upper Egypt and had his daughter Amenirdis installed as heir to the key post of “Divine Wife of Amun” at Thebes; at the death of the twenty-third dynasty “Divine Wife,” Shepenwepet, Amernirdis assumed the title and functions. In Year 21 of his reign, Piya defeated the Libyan prince Tefnakht, establishing the twenty-fifth dynasty as rulers over all of Egypt. A number of Nubians no doubt settled in Egypt during this period, intermarrying with Egyptians. Although Piya and his successors depicted themselves as the “saviors” of Egyptian civilization, their Egyptianization was not as comprehensive as royal ideology indicates. Monumental and presumably administrative texts were written in Egyptian, but they kept their Nubian names (possibly in a Nilo-Saharan language, suggesting an origin in central Africa), mode of succession, and elements of dress and regalia. Although Egyptian gods were adopted, temples renovated or built, and pyramid tombs adopted, these features were not slavishly copied but were adapted to suit Napatan needs and perceptions. After the Assyrian conquest, Kushite pharaonic culture continued to flourish in the South, becoming a prominent source of Egyptian influence in sub-Saharan Africa until the early centuries CE.


The earliest mention of Punt is on the Palermo Stone, which notes an expedition mounted under the reign of the fifth dynasty king Sahure. Contact continued sporadically until the New Kingdom. Visits to the land of Punt are not mentioned in Egyptian sources after the reign of Ramesses III (c.1150 BCE). The scene of an expedition to Punt from Queen Hatshepsut's mortuary complex at Deir el-Bahri shows Puntites with red skin and facial features similar to Egyptians, long or bobbed hair, goatee beards, and kilts. The so-called queen of Punt is represented as steatopygous. These same reliefs show the Puntites as a settled people, with houses placed on stilts. The flora and fauna shown indicate a location in coastal Sudan or Eritrea. At least some Puntites visited Egypt with their families, but it is unlikely that many settled there.


A few references from the Old Kingdom seem to refer to the people known today as Pygmies. Small numbers of Pygmies were brought to Egypt as sacred dancers. They are found in the Pyramid Texts, involved in the frenetic mortuary dance. The safe arrival of a dancing Pygmy is a matter of concern to young Pepy II in a letter to the expedition leader Harkhuf, recorded in his tomb at Aswan. These references imply that Pygmies danced especially for the king, just as the king dances before the god. If necessary, a dwarf could substitute, suggesting that Pygmies were a great rarity and never present in large numbers. Today Pygmies live in the rain forests of central Africa, although there is considerable debate regarding the antiquity of their occupation there.


Although groups from Libya (such as the Tjemech) probably interacted with Egypt from early times, they do not reach prominence in Egyptian records until the New Kingdom. Libyans are depicted at Akhenaten's court as emissaries or mercenaries. During the nineteenth and twentieth dynasties, Libyans were identified as Tjehenu and became one of four essential peoples or “races” depicted in the solar theology (see below). Egyptian texts mention two main groups, the Meshwesh and Libu. Slight differences in dress and appearance between the two groups may indicate a cultural distinction. Libyan incursions into the western Nile Delta were a serious problem for Ramessid kings. Accounts of military campaigns mounted against them indicate large numbers of cattle and sheep taken as booty, implying a significant pastoral component. The same texts mention towns, implying an urban civilization. Their most likely origin lies in Cyrenaica (coastal Libya), although the region is still relatively unknown archeologically. Some texts imply that they also ranged through the northern oases and Sahara. Archaeologically, the oases have a distinct material culture, often mixed with Egyptian pottery and artifacts reflecting contact and conquest at various periods. Several ongoing archaeological projects should permit a better definition of these groups. Libyans settled in large numbers in the Nile Delta, eventually founding the Bubastite twenty-second dynasty, based at Tanis. The third-century BCE Egyptian historian Manetho refers to Sheshonq I as the first of a series of Libyan chiefs who ruled Egypt for two hundred years. Theban records refer to him as “Great Chief of all the Meswesh,” who had been used as police during the New Kingdom. The kings of the Bubastite dynasty were at least partly Libyan, and the Saite dynasty rulers may well have had some Libyan ancestry.

Near Easterners (Asiatics).

Evidence of contact with the Near East goes back to the Predynastic period. Although some scholars favoring diffusionist models have argued for a massive influx through the Nile Delta or the Wadi Hammamat via the Red Sea, the consensus today is for increasing contact and interaction focused on the Nile Delta and the Sinai. There is ample textual evidence in the form of names for the presence of Syrian-Palestinians in Egypt's public institutions and private houses. For example, the Middle Kingdom Brooklyn Papyrus lists seventy-seven servants of the lady Senebtisi, forty-eight of whom have Near Eastern names. Other texts show that new generations of families like these received Egyptian names, gradually assimilating into Egyptian society. Several stelae from this period depict servants labeled as Near Easterners, but with Egyptian names, dress, and hairstyles. Some may have come to Egypt as captives from military campaigns, although there was considerable movement of peoples going both ways for trade and diplomacy.

Egypt gradually became more engaged with Near Eastern peoples during the later Middle Kingdom, through the establishment of a major point of immigration at Tell ed-Dab'a in the eastern Nile Delta. This site has all the hallmarks of a trade diaspora, an expatriate settlement serving as an interface between the two trading partners. Excavations document a gradual increase in the numbers and influence of Syrian-Palestinians at Dab'a over the course of the thirteenth dynasty. By the late thirteenth dynasty, Middle Bronze Age pottery makes up 40 percent of the assemblage, “warrior” tombs with typical weaponry and associated equid burials appear with great frequency, and monumental temples in the standard Middle Bronze Age layout rival those of sites in Syria-Palestine. A complex settlement hierarchy developed in Palestine during this period, anchored by major trade “gateways” at Tell ed-Dabʾa in the south and Hazor in the north. At the end of the thirteenth dynasty, Tell ed-Dabʾa became the capital of the Syrian-Palestinian fifteenth dynasty, the Hyksos, which established direct control over the northern half of Egypt and forced the Upper Egyptian seventeenth dynasty to accept a role as a vassal state. The Hyksos only partly assimilated to Egyptian culture, although it is likely that many of their descendants remained in the Delta after Egypt's “expulsion” of the early eighteenth dynasty, thereby becoming part of Egyptian New Kingdom society.

Substantial numbers of Near Eastern peoples, mostly Syrian-Palestinians but including individuals from Mitanni (Syria) and Hatti (Anatolia), were captured during the great military campaigns of the New Kingdom, which ranged as far as northern Syria. Others came as tribute from vassal states controlled by Egypt or as free traders, craftsmen, and scribes. Most prisoners were assigned to various royal and temple estates to provide labor in the fields, although some were parceled out as rewards to valorous warriors. Skilled Near Eastern craftsmen were employed in Egyptian workshops, and others were employed as servants in elite and royal households. Literate elites from the Near East were often employed in the Egyptian bureaucracy, where their linguistic skills proved valuable to the conduct of international trade and diplomacy; the ambitious might rise to high positions. The Canaanite Ben-ozen became chief of the department of alimentation and beverage and chief royal herald under Ramesses II. The chief draftsman in the temple of Amun, Pas-Ba'al, was possibly taken prisoner under Thutmose III, and his descendants occupied his office for six generations. An individual with the Canaanite name Aper-El became vizier under Amenhotpe III, and Chancellor Bey became a virtual kingmaker at the end of the nineteenth dynasty. Egyptians intermarried with Near Easterners, and slaves were sometimes adopted into Egyptian families. Although most Near Easterners assimilated to some degree, the cultural influence was not unidirectional. Levantine mythical and literary motifs, loan words, and deities such as Ba'al, Astarte, and Reshep all entered into the Egyptian cultural sphere during the New Kingdom.

Mediterranean peoples.

Archaeological, historical, and artistic evidence point to limited interactions among Egypt, Minoan Crete, and Mycenean Greece during the Bronze Age. Pottery and other artifacts from the Aegean appear in Egypt during the Middle and New Kingdoms. Egyptian objects also appear in the Aegean during this period. Minoan-style architectural frescoes from the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty at Tell ed-Dabʾa in the Nile Delta suggest the presence of artisans from Crete in Egypt. Scenes of Aegean emissaries and traders, like those from the tomb of Rekhmire, vizier under Thutmose III, provide further evidence of interaction in the New Kingdom. A fragmentary list of Aegean place names from the mortuary temple of Amenhotpe III points to an Egyptian embassy for Mycenean Greece. It is not likely, however, that many of these Aegean peoples settled in Egypt.

The “Sea Peoples” is a term used to encompass the movements of Mediterranean peoples by both sea and land at the end of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1200–1100 BCE). The disruptions caused by this massive migration through the Anatolian Plateau and down the eastern Mediterranean coast brought down the great Hittite Empire and such coastal Levantine trading centers as Ugarit. Some captive groups were turned into mercenaries in the Egyptian army, most notably the fierce Sherden, who became elite royal bodyguards under Ramesses II. The Harris Papyrus notes that captive Peleset, Shardana, Weshesh, Denyen, and Shekelesh were used as garrison forces and mercenaries under Ramesses III. The exact origin of each of these groups is a matter of considerable debate; the consensus favors the Aegean and western Anatolia as the origin of most of them. Some soldiers and their families were settled in coastal Palestine, where they are identified archaeologically with the Philistines. Others settled in Egypt. Papyrus Wilbour, a tax roll of farms in the Faiyum area, lists several Shardana as landholders.

Greeks and Carians began to be used as Egyptian mercenaries in the Late period, settling at sites like Naukratis in the Nile Delta. Trade with the Mediterranean expanded during the Saite twenty-sixth dynasty, bringing other peoples from the Mediterranean shores to Egypt. The Persian king Cambyses II conquered Egypt in 525 BCE, but only small numbers of Persians actually came to Egypt, with most of the nation's bureaucracy remaining in Egyptian hands. More Greeks came into Egypt during the struggles of native dynasts against Persian rule, and with the conquest of Egypt by Alexander of Macedon in 332 BCE. These immigrants founded several new cities in the Nile Delta, the most important being the port city of Alexandria. Its population numbered 300,000 Greek citizens and another 200,000 Egyptians, living in crowded mansions and tenements. The Macedonian elite established cities modeled on the Greek concepts of polis and tribe, with strict citizenship rules to keep out the “barbarian” Egyptian rabble. The royal family, the Ptolemies, remained to the end very Macedonian; Cleopatra VII was the first even to speak Egyptian. Temples with priesthoods of Greek origin were set up syncretizing Egyptian and Greek deities: like Dionysus with Osiris, Hathor with Aphrodite, and Amun with Zeus.

Royal Ideology and the Depiction of Foreigners.

Different peoples were separated on the basis of culture, language, and physical appearance in both the royal ideology and more prosaic sources. Unlike modern racist thinkers, the Egyptians recognized these features as separate categories; thus, an acculturated Nubian like the “Royal Fan-bearer” (a military title) Mahirper was acknowledged and depicted as culturally Egyptian, but with Nubian dark skin, facial features, and curled hair. Egyptian ideology separated the world's peoples into four groups: Egyptians, Near Easterners, Libyans, and Nubians. New Kingdom royal tombs provide idealized portraits of these different peoples. Egyptians have red-brown skin, black shoulder-length hair, simple white kilts, and small trimmed beards. Nubians are represented with black skin, scarification on the cheeks and brow similar to that still practiced in the Nubian Sudan today, short trimmed hair in braids or ringlets, hoop earrings, and decorated leather sashes and aprons worn over white Egyptian-style kilts. Libyans are shown with light skin and geometric tattoos, braided or ringleted hair with curled side lock(s?) and two ostrich feathers; they wear a loincloth(?) under a long leather cloak showing the natural patterns of the cow's hair. Near Easterners are depicted as Syrian-Palestinians with yellow skin, black bobbed hair with a headband tied at the back, elaborately decorated kilts, and ample (sometimes pointed) beards and mustaches. In other scenes, different hairstyles, dress, and facial features are used to differentiate other Near Eastern peoples—like the Anatolian Hittites or Syrian Mitanni—from the Syrian-Palestinians.

Egypt's ideological view of foreigners reflects goals and perceptions different from the administrative realities of dealing with diplomacy, trade, and empire. Antonio Loprieno has characterized the Egyptian view of the various peoples in Topos und Mimesis: Zum Ausländer in der ägyptischen Literatur (Wiesbaden, 1988). Topos represents an idealized view of the world that serves a rhetorical, not necessarily a literal, end; mimesis reflects the reality of daily experience, if ultimately filtered through Egyptian cultural perceptions.

The ideological topos applied to foreign peoples in Egypt reflects a propagandistic manipulation of reality aimed at an inner audience. In the celebrative central ideology, often expressed in monumental art and architecture, Egypt becomes the center of the universe, and all the foreign lands bow down to the pharaoh, regardless of their actual relationship. Foreigners represent chaotic, uncivilized threats to the inner order, ultimately disposed of by the ruler. The role of foreigners in the Egyptian foreigner topos is in opposition to maat (order, harmony, rightness). Maat exists in opposition to isfet (disorder, chaos), which constantly tries to upset the heavenly and earthly order. One of the most potent forces of isfet is the traditional foreign enemies of Egypt. Thus, foreigners are depicted as strangers and generalized as an ethnic group with negative qualities. They are not really people and are often compared with animals—their speech is unintelligible, like the jabbering of baboons. The characteristic dress and physical appearance described above emphasizes each group's otherness in the foreigner topos. On an even more abstract level, the traditional enemies of Egypt are referred to as the “Nine Bows.” This topos appears iconographically as actual bows, sometimes combined with topical images of captive Near Easterners and Nubians. Footstools, statue and throne bases, processional ways, and even sandals carry the Nine Bows motif, so that the king would constantly trample underfoot the enemies of Egypt. The application of this principle reaches an extreme in the formal Presentation of Tribute, where loyal native officials in Egypt's colonial administration appear in the topos of “pacified Nubian” described above, while at the same time their tombs, grave goods, and other monuments show that they were completely Egyptianized.

A more realistic portrayal occurs in texts reflecting mimesis. Foreigners are treated as individuals, not as stereotypes. They are identified by name, can speak Egyptian like a “real” person, and thus are incorporated into the Egyptian cultural framework. Unlike the topical foreigner, they can act in a positive way. In everyday life, foreign influences and even deities were tolerated in Egypt. For example, despite state ideological representations of Near Easterners as uncivilized enemies, Levantine mythical and literary motifs, loan words, and deities such as Ba'al, Astarte, and Reshep, had all entered into the Egyptian cultural sphere by the New Kingdom. Although no indisputably Nubian deities appear in Egypt, elite military dress and accouterments, including leather kilts and hairstyles, were borrowed from Nubia.



  • Bernal, Martin. “Black Athena.” New Brunswick, N.J., 1987. Bernal provides a good critique of the racist biases of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that minimized Egypt's African-ness and denied interactions with the Aegean. Unfortunately, he goes on to revive seriously flawed radical diffusionist approaches that posit massive migrations and influence of Egyptians on the development of Classical civilization.
  • Boas, Franz. Race, Language and Culture. Chicago, 1940. A seminal work refuting the connection of biology (race) and culture.
  • Celenko, Theodore, ed. Egypt in Africa. Indianapolis, 1996. The companion volume for an innovative exhibit exploring ancient Egypt's African roots, juxtaposing images from Egypt and other African cultures. Each section is accompanied by essays from Egyptologists and Africanist scholars, exploring related themes.
  • Curtin, Phillip. Cross Cultural Trade in World History. Cambridge, 1984. Curtin draws on insights from anthropology and economic history to documents a broad and diverse group of trading relationships in the ancient and modern world, including the movement of peoples in the creation of trade diasporas, an expatriate settlement serving as an interface between the two trading partners.
  • Diop, Cheikh Ante. The African Origin of Civilization. Chicago, 1974. A highly influential work that rightly points out the African origins of Egyptian civilization, but reinforces the methodological and theoretical foundations of colonialist theories of history, embracing racialist thinking and simply reversing the flow of diffusionist models.
  • Keita, S. O. Y., and Rick Kittles. “The Persistence of Racial Thinking and the Myth of Racial Divergence.” American Anthropologist 99 (1997), 534–544. An excellent summary of the evidence against race as a scientific concept, with particular reference to the ancient Egyptians.
  • Kemp, Barry J. “Imperialism in New Kingdom Egypt (c.1575–1087 B.C.).” In Imperialism in the Ancient World, edited by P. D. A. Garnsey and C. R. Whittaker, pp. 7–57, 283–297. Cambridge, 1978. An excellent consideration of Egypt's Nubian and Syrian-Palestinian empires, including an extensive discussion of foreigners in Egyptian ideology.
  • Leahy, Anthony. Libya and Egypt, c. 1300–750 B.C. London, 1990.
  • Liverani, Mario. Prestige and Interest: International Relations in the Near East ca. 1600–1100 B.C. Padua, 1990. Provides a perceptive, wide-ranging comparison of Egypt and the great powers of the Near East, contrasting ideological pronouncements emphasizing the internal prestige of the ruler with diplomatic correspondence reflecting political and economic interest.
  • O'Connor, David. Ancient Nubia: Egypt's Rival in Africa. Philadelphia, 1993. Provides an excellent general introduction to the civilizations of ancient Nubia and their relationship with Egypt, including a number of case studies which employ new analyses of the University of Pennsylvania's early excavations.
  • Redford, Donald B. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. Princeton, 1992. A comprehensive survey of Egypt's interactions with Syro-Palestine, including discussions of the role of Near Easterners in Egypt.
  • Sadr, Karim. The Development of Nomadism in Ancient Northeast Africa. Philadelphia, 1991.
  • Sanders, N. K. The Sea Peoples. London, 1987. Discusses the origins of the Sea Peoples and their impact on the eastern Mediterranean and Egypt.
  • Säve-Söderbergh, Torgny, and Lana Troy. New Kingdom Pharaonic Sites. Uppsala, 1991. A thorough report on the excavation of several Nubian cemeteries important to understanding the acculturation of Lower Nubians in the New Kingdom and the origins and role of the Lower Nubian princes.
  • Silverman, David. “Pygmies and Dwarves in Old Kingdom Egypt.” Serapis 1 (1989), 53–55.
  • Smith, Stuart T. “State and Empire in the Middle and New Kingdoms.” In Anthropological Analysis of Ancient Egypt, edited by Judy Lustig, pp. 66–89. Sheffield, 1997. Contrasts the economic and social dynamics of Egypt's empire with the portrayal and role of foreigners in Egyptian ideology.
  • Vogel, Joseph O., ed. Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa. Walnut Creek, 1997. Includes numerous surveys of various aspects of northeast African history and culture, including human origins, pastoralism, rock art, and the rise of Neolithic culture and origins of the ancient Egyptians. See especially articles by Holl on Pan-Africanism and Afrocentrism; Ehret on African languages; and Williams, Hassan, Wettestrom, and Fattovich on the origins of Egyptian civilization and its connections to adjacent areas.

Stuart Tyson Smith