As the guy at National Geographic responsible for keeping track of a bunch of scientists, I never know who or what I'll engage with each day. It could be dinosaurs for breakfast, poisonous frogs for lunch, and Inca gold for dinner. I'll post the highlights here as I encounter them. If you have questions or comments about archeology, paleontology, paleoanthropology, or any Society-funded projects, this is the place to post. I'll check things out and invite experts to weigh in on postings from time to time.
What did Ancient Egyptians Look Like?
Posted Jan 14,2008

King_tut_profileblog Pharaoh Tutankhamun's skull defines his general appearance. Its anyone's guess what his skin color was. This particular model (right) was prepared from a CT-scan-based "cast" of his skull (left) without knowing its identity. Reconstruction by Michael Anderson. Photos in composite © 2007 Michael Anderson and Mark Thiessen © 2007 National Geographic Society.

I’ll never forget attending opening night of the King Tut exhibit in Los Angeles in June 2005. As I approached the exhibit entrance with Elisabeth Daynes, the French sculptor who created a likeness of King Tut for the cover of National Geographic magazine, we passed a patch of animated demonstrators whose placards read “King Tut’s Back and He’s Still Black.” A few steps further I was informed by other National Geographic staff attending the event that Dayne’s sculpture, which she had traveled from Paris to see on display, was out of the show.

I was disappointed, but not surprised. Every time the magazine’s art department attempted to depict ancient Egyptians, we received letters complaining about their appearance. This was despite every effort of talented artists and hard-working researchers to be accurate and fair. For the King Tut reconstruction we went to the extreme of commissioning a second model by a team that was not informed of the identity of the skull cast we provided. Their results confirmed that the cover image was as reasonable as forensic reconstructions of individuals can be. One can quibble about the shape of Tut’s nose and ears, and the color of his eyes and skin, but hard bone determined his general appearance. Judging from the demonstrators outside the exhibit in Los Angeles, we were once again unable to please everyone.

The reasons for this dissatisfaction are complex. Confusing notions about ‘race’ and a concern that scholars ignore Africa’s contribution to civilization seem to be at the heart of it. There is still some debate about the skin color of ancient Egyptians, but most experts agree that, from Alexandria in the north to the Sudanese border, ancient Egyptians would have looked much as they do today.

Our story about ancient Egypt’s 25th dynasty in the February issue of National Geographic provides an opportunity to look again at questions about the appearance of ancient Egyptians and whether Egypt’s, ergo Africa’s, contribution to civilization has been ignored. If you’d like to comment on our story or this topic, here’s the place.

Before you respond on the skin color issue, I recommend that you review how scientists currently view race at

Posted by Chris Sloan | Comments (62)
Filed Under: anthropology


Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

i have tons of questions i want to ask national geographic because i question your motives in regards to african history, but anyway.

what difference in skin colour does national geographic and experts think there would of been between the badarians and the nearest peoples living to the south of them?.

in my view if we use a multi disciplinery approach to the subject.

the original ancient egyptians whose first nome is the border of sudan must surely of looked liked the sudanese themselves since the culture came from the southfor a start.

in regards to the king tut controversy, the A.E have left us with bust of king tut themselves why cant we use these to determine what he looked like?

if there were 3 busts made of king tut by the reconstruction teams, using the skull, why do they all look different? we cant be certain he looked like the latest reconstruction you showcase.and why did national geographic use the model they used to showcase king tut?

Michael L
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

The problem that a lot of people have with the Tut model and the overall model of Egypt is very basic at its core. How can you have two supposed separate nation powers living right next to each other, and one being of a darker hue (African) and the other so light (with European features). When I look at the geography of the two it doesn’t make common sense. If you look at the map in this article (Black Pharaohs), the Valley of the Kings and/or Thebes are right down the Nile from the border of Nubia. You don’t think that before or during Pharonic Egypt, these two peoples had no contact that was not construed as aggression? I understand the invasion and subsequent beginning of the 2nd intermediate period between the middle and the new kingdom, which lasted a few dynasties. I also understand the third intermediate (Assyrian invasion) period between the New and the Napata (25th) Dynasty. However; none of that would suggest a total racial whitewash of Pharonic Egypt. To suggest that the wood carving of Queen Tye has darkened over time (which it very well could have) and that would give others the opening to question the race or skin color of her or her son Akenaton, (whom I dare you to show me ANY European that looks remotely like him. And if you try, all I will do is point you to the actor Tyrees or the model Tyson Beckman, if we were to use such parochial means). There is no total separation of Nubia and Egypt. They are just to close for that. It is nice that the story of the 25th dynasty be told however I have already learned of these stories from great people such as Dr. Clarke, Dr Ben, Dr Van Sertima and especially Dr Diop and countless others.

Victor Cumberbatch
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Why is it that Europeans always think on the linear plane of black and white and race?The skin color of King Tut was sure not like a caucasian because in the period he lived which was around the 15th century B.C. the word Europe did not existed.From the 1st recorded Ancient Khemetian king Menes you can see his features which was non caucasian.Then let's move bacwards to the Old Kingdom to the 3rd dynastic period where you had king Djoser who is also certainly of African ancestry along with his chief adviser Imhotep.Then move to the 12th dynasty and there are man black african featured kings.
In your piece in the new issue you wrote about queen Tiye's wooden bust being darkened with age but Stevie Wonder can see her Africoid features.Further more her son was the infamous Akhanaten and his features also drove home the Africoid bloodlines.From all the great work people like Dr Ben,Dr john Henrik Clark,Dr Ivan Van Sertima,Chek Anta Diop produced, it was like in vain.In this day and age we are still asking the redundant question about the race and color of Ancient Khemetian/Egyptian Kings especially before the Greco/Roman era .The Greco/Roman era was when Khemet/Egypt was invaded by Greece and Rome and Roman and Greek people usurped and imposterized an ancient tradition.
I have read many early classical Greek and Roman writers like Herodotus and Manetho who left discriptions of the people of ancient Khemet/Egypt as dark with wooly hair no different from the Ethiopians.I beleive we have grown up and demand truth and stop playing with our intelligence.
Here are a few books to enlighten you on Africans especially the people from the Nile Valley civilazations.1 Wonderful Ethiopians of the ancient Cushite Empire, by Drusilla Dunjee Houston.2 The African origin of civilazation,by Cheik Anta Diop.Signs &Symbols of Primordial man, by Sir Albert Churchward.4 Introduction to Nile Valley Civilazation , by Anthony Browder.5 The Histories , by Herodotus.
The Nile Valley theology and philosophy was a result of the Ancient Egyptian Empire and from there it was the ancient Khemetians/Egyptians who thaught the Greeks as was mentioned by Plato and others.Then the Greeks thought the Romans,hence the roots of many of the most important gods of both countries had their roots in Khemet/Cush or Ancient Egypt.While you at it do some research on the Akan people of Ghana and the Fulani of Nigeria who are black Africans.

Don Torrieri
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

If you travel to Egypt or encounter some Egyptians in America, it will be obvious to you that they are predominantly Caucasian in appearance. I have asked several of them what race they belong to, and they have all answered that they are Caucasian. The Egyptians I have met all contend that they are the direct descendents of the ancient Egyptians even if they have some Arab ancestry. Thus, their appearance and testimony would make it difficult to believe that they are not predominantly Caucasian, although I would speculate that they are partly of Negroid ancestry (perhaps 10-15%). Of course, there are minority races among the Egyptians, but they are primarily descended from immigants. A famous example is Anwar Sadat, who was of Sudanese descent.

T.A. Lockhart
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Is it not clear that the ancient Egyptians, by knowing their Spiritual culture is a mix of the Red and black races?

Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

first of all i`d like N.G. to stop tricking people`s mind with title such as ``black pharaohs`` when they know too well that there has never been a white pharaod in history at all. They always try to make the burden of proof on black people to divert the attention, the real question is who was the white pharaoh, if he ever existed. If i can remember N.G. was a major advocate of false facts about ancient blacks and their achievements as a whole, and kemet in particular back in the day. it wasnt until DR DIOP had put all the racially charged scientists and archeologists to the test back in 1974( a fact that u dont document at all)that the situation slowly changed.
secondly , how is it that kemet influence nubia when we all know now that most of the pyramids in nubia predated the ones in kemet.
nice try guys but i never belived u then and i ll never will

chris sloan
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

I'd like to respond to a few of the comments made here. First, to slater: We can use the likenesses of King Tut from the art that the Egyptians left us but only to a point. Their art, as you know, was highly stylized, and therefore not particularly reliable regarding the details of personal appearance. The reason we chose the model that appeared on the cover is simple. That was the only one that was prepared with the full "treatment" to make it look realistic. It was the first one we started and therefore the first to be ready. In the end it was a "photo finish" to have anything to print on the cover at all!

To Michael L: I'm sorry the story didn't tell you anything new. I'm not surprised. The point of doing it, however, was to bring this information to the huge number of people that are not aware, including many school children. I see it as a starting point. Now 40 million more people know about the Nubian pharaohs, not counting those who see it on this web site.

To Victor Cumberbatch and JM: I agree with you that "Black Pharaohs" may not be the best title from the perspective you present. It sets up the logic, "If you are not black, then you are white," which is, of course, misleading and incorrect. On the other hand, the phrase "Black Pharaohs" is useful as a headline. One can argue whether there was a better one or not, but these headlines are meant to attract readers and sell magazines off the newsstand, so the nuances that you are sensitive to are considered, but often overridden by the need for editorial "punch." Its just the nature of the business.

Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Thank you for the article "Black Pharaohs" by Robert Draper.

Much of it was true and therefore refreshing to see African history honestly written in a mainstream periodical. However, I have several questions/comments.

1. We believe in one God and NOT multiple gods (God has many traits and therefore symbols were/are used to represent them).

2. The article, "Black Pharaohs", focused on the 25th dynasty yet failed to mention anything about the first 10 dynasties (Kemet). That doesn’t make sense because there's no point of origin. For instance, why would the Egyptians support Nubians ruling over Egypt? Is there a connection between the Nubians and Egypt's past dynasties and/or ancestors? How was King Piankhy (Piye) and the other Black kings so familiar with Egyptian spirituality and culture?

3. What prompted King Piye and the Nubian troops to restore order, unify the land/people, and then just leave? Clearly, he wasn’t an “Egyptomaniac” (how insulting) or else he would have jumped at the chance to stay in Egypt. Was he called upon by the Theban officals to improve the state of Egypt? If so, why him?

4. After the Black kings regained control of Egypt and traveled back south to Napata, who was left to rule over Egypt during that time? Could it have been their wives and daughters - Black women (assisted by the Egyptian administrators who were also black)? If I’m not mistaken the symbol for order, justice, truth, harmony, balance, reciprocity, and propriety in Egypt, Nubia, and Kush (and probably many other cultures in Africa) was/is a “black woman”. This information is missing from the article.

5. To say the Nubians were the first to experience “Egyptomania” is a huge assumption (it wasn’t proven in the article) and insult. Nubian culture/people could have actually been the basis of Egypt for all we know. That culture may have just been a way of life for them before Egypt even took its first breath.

6. Africans are spiritual people. They don’t see their fellow friends, elders, family members, neighbors, etc. as “subjects”. They see them all as family. So, the Nubians may have voluntarily built pyramids for their leaders to commemorate them or to thank God for years of leadership and guidance. It may have been out of love, dedication, and tradition (not because it was written in their leaders' wills).

7. After Kemet (Egypt) was conquered, what exactly did the leadership contribute to Egyptian/African/World history? It seems as if the spiritual growth/advancement of civilization in Kemet (1st several dynasties)/Egypt (25th dynasty) occurred when blacks were leading the masses.

Thank you

Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Edgar Cayce said that some survivors of Atlantis, fleeing from their famed city, brought their high degree of civilzation to the nile valley. Think of it as a "rebirth"-- a new set of ideals imposed by Lord Menes (Horus? Narmer et al.)

If that is the case and these so called Atlantans resembled a "proto" North America race, then they would have the make-up of the DNA haplogroup A, B, C+D, and the newly discovered "X". This so called "X" is key, more study into its origin could prove vital in this controversial theory.

You can can cleary see this link in "Old" kingdom busts. They definitely have some (not all) racial features that native americans have. Now before someone attacks me on this idea remember north america has many, many tribes. If you were to categorize them into distinct groups you probably could get by with the following.

West- (Cal, NW, Alaska)
Middle- (Plains tribes, Kiowa, Crow, Sioux, etc.)
East- (Iroquois, Huron, etc)
South- (Maya, Mexico, Andes, etc)

10,000-15,000 years is a lot of developement time to offer distinct racial differences between all North American peoples.

Now fast forward to 3000 BC. These "proto" americans would only resemble modern native americans to a certain degree...say 10-25%.

Now on to the whole enchilada...

These refugees from the west, "across the seas", would already find a nile valley composed of many peoples. There were definitely links in the old kingdom between Sumer and Egypt. These early migrates from Sumer probably already had inter-mingled with the black population already entrenched there.

So in conclusion- you'd have these sailors from Atlantis (possibly with haplo-group A,B, C+D, X) coming from the north (or across the desert in the west with sahara tribes) and establishing their capital at Memphis. This is documented in the Horus vs. Seth epic battle. I also wouldn't be surprised if these so called "Atlantans" had direct contact with Sumer. A contact that could go back 10, 000-30,000 years ago.

I know this idea is controversial , but it should at least be explored. Thank you!


Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Why don't you do a DNA test? I would think NG could do that easily. Seems that would answer most of the questions.

chris sloan
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Two comments on genes that are relevant to Smoke Jaguar's and Red Hat's comments. Studies of the DNA of living people show that Egyptians arose in Egypt, in Africa, and that while there was genetic influence from virtually every direction, it was influx from neighbors and not from far away.

Secondly, DNA tests on mummies have been done in the past and are ongoing. My understanding of the reasons why we have not heard more from these studies is that:

1) It is incredibly hard to get decent samples of ancient DNA, especially from mummies that have been so highly manipulated by other humans and materials.

2)Some of the studies that have been performed have been criticized and therefore are not widely publicized.

3)Using DNA to determine affiliations can be controversial and scientists must be extremely sensitive to the social consequences of their work.

4)Mummies are the cultural heritage of Egypt and Egypt has not had, until recently, a DNA lab. Samples had to be sent out of the country. This is something that Egypt was very reluctant to do. The problem with a DNA lab in Egypt, however, is that there is a high risk of confusion because contamination might be hard to detect. Some ancient DNA specialists suggest that the LAST place you would want to look for ancient DNA in mummmies is in Egypt.

Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

this my 1st time ever commenting on this subject and i have long been a fan of NG. until the last few egyptian articles.My great grand mother(she is the same complexion as michael jordan) was born in the southern most part of egypt and as told by her there was a time when sudan and egypt were considered the same land.I grew up listening to all the old stories and ways.If you look at the founder of the 3rd dynasty Sa-Nekht was obviously negro many of our Gods came out of what is called Sudan.Prehistoric furnaces were found in notheren Rhodesia(almost near the heart of africa).and Nino Del Grande shows that it was introduced to us by "other" africans. If NG checked you would see that the Dogons in Mali were people who migrated in ancient times from the area you call egypt.Even Ptah is a negro. I felt compelled to write this because i was so offended by the asumption that we were not black "all" of the land was negro.Stop trying to tie youselves into our history you were not there.One of the bloggers was absolutely right about the writings of people like Heridotus describing us ...why do you use him when you want to show how the Greeks traveled but not to show we are negroid.....for the rest of the bloggeres what you see on tv is not how we look even today they are usually the ones who live in the city...

Dave Myers
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

I'll start from early on in my evolution... I am a biracial man whose father is African-American and mother is Caucasian. My parents met in 1959 when my un-wed mother was in a nursing school where my father was employed as a nurses aide... my mother was engaged to a white man who was attending engineering school. My father had an African-American wife and (5) children at the time of his extra-marital relationship with my mother. At some early point of my mothers pregnancy with me she made the decision to marry her fiance, and to lie to everyone about who the father of her un-born child was... she achieved this by claiming that I had been afflicted with a skin-disease called "melanism".

My mother and step-father had four more children together in the space of nine years after I was born, and we grew up together in a middle-class household in white america where the subject of "race" was never discussed. My earliest recollections of having to be aware of race was when I was asked questions about the color of my skin by other classmates in first grade... "Why was my skin dark?", "Was I adopted?" race was certainly a hot-button issue in 1965-66 when I began school , but any awareness that my mother and step-father had achieved from growing up in their white neighborhoods in the 40's and 50's was insufficient in preparing them for raising a biracial child... and to complicate things, they were both in complete denial of their complicity in my mis-education. When I came home from school after having been asked questions by fellow students from my all-white school district, my mother then explained "the skin-disease story" to me... "other kids with this disease usually have dark blotches all over their bodies, so you should feel fortunate". When I would tell my mother about other boys and girls who would call me names or act aggressively for no apparent reason, I began to understand that I would get no further assistance from her to explain this rationale... my step-father was even more removed from the conversation and would only add, "You know what your mother said".

By the time that my step-father transferred jobs and our family of (7) had moved from the all-white Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Stow to the all-white school district of Portville in Western up-state N.Y. it was the spring of 1970 and I was in fourth grade, and already the veteran of many racial incidents and altercations between myself, classmates, and even some adults. My four younger siblings had also been told the same story, and had to explain the same things to their friends when asked why they had a brother who was black... "Hey, did your mother fool around a little bit??" I remember how much that hurt me when I heard it, and I'm sure that they felt just as badly when they did... nonetheless, this was a "subject" that we never discussed as a family, not once, at least in my presence.

I was taught through my observations of my mother and step-father to keep quiet about things that I wasn't sure about, and I was also taught to ignore the obvious.

As I matured into my teen-aged years and began to experience societies issues and insecurities in coming to terms with this countries racial in-equalities during the 70's, I felt an increasing need to rationalize and then codify the information that my mother had given me, regardless of what I was beginning to realize inside... I felt an increasing discomfort, yet there was no one in my life to offer any prospective... I had learned that black people were a part of society that we didn't talk about. ( There was a black family in my small town, and they were poor and lived in a run-down house near the river...I never had any opportunity or reason to associate with them)

I was a "B" student and also began taking an interest in sports where I was above average. Meeting other schools and student athletes were opportunities to then be exposed to populations that had not been inured by my story yet...I was just another black kid to them.

Communicating my experiences to my mother and step-father was difficult because they had no experience with racial prejudice, therefore when I had problems with other children it would be looked at as an issue that "I" had in getting along with others(as well as intra-family sibling issues).
Because "race" was being ruled-out entirely, by my mothers denial of my father, she could not logically use that rationale to explain any conflicts that I would have. My step-fathers complicity in this was to blindly support my mothers viewpoint.

The "white" viewpoint has always been that blacks(black society) were pretty well cared for, and what contact they did have would be polite and careful... What, with the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts being passed, the playing field had been leveled.(re: my mother and step-father's generation)
The feelings and comfort of my mother were apparently what was important, and her inculcation had to have been partly comprised of the idea that white society acted as the gate-keepers and care-takers of an infantilized black population.


How has black society formed its identity?

What role models have been used, and how does white society react to positive
black role models today? (Are they held to a more critical prism??)

Is there enough information readily available for black people to easily form a
positive racial identity?

Is it important that black society is able to connect accurately the dots of its social
evolution in America? and is it also important that white society can connect those
same dots??

What is White Privilege?

What is White awareness?

What is Whiteness?

What about Affirmative Action?

Is Race just a social construct?

How do we improve our society in America?

Is there any other way(besides the attrition of the old guard) to achieve this??

Dave Myers

Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

I recently saw a video titled The Real Eve narrated by Danny Glover. I believe it came out in 2002. The video does a remarkable job in illustrating how everyone came from Africa. The world became populated with human beings because some Black Africans decided to leave Africa and travel the world. So truly there is only one human race.

The reason why we look and act different is because of our natural environments. Skin color is determined by your exposure to ultraviolet sunlight. The absorption of some ultraviolet light is needed to produce natural vitamin D, but too much exposure of ultraviolet light is harmful. Our bodies produce melanin to regulate its absorption of ultraviolet light. People who live in environments that have a lot of sun exposure produce a lot of melanin to reflect off the ultraviolet light and people who live in environments that have low sun exposure produce less melanin so that their skin can absorb some ultraviolet light. Our skin color is just a protective function of our bodies.

My point is basic, other cultures exist today outside of Africa because Black Africans decided to leave Africa and populate the world. People look different today because of what I explained above.

How can the racial identity of the Ancient Egyptians even be questioned? The starting point of all human beings including the Ancient Egyptians is Black. They had to be of a darker skin tone because of their amount of exposure to ultraviolet light. Questioning their racial identity will always bring you back to Black.

Clearly the real issue is the false notion of Black inferiority and White superiority? The only reason why white scientists refuse to simply acknowledge the true identity of the Ancient Egyptians is because of the White Superiority complex. Also entire economies were built around the African Slave trade. The justification of African Slavery has been the notion of Black inferiority.

It is impossible for Black people to be inferior to anyone when all other cultures come from Africa.

negro negus
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Firstly I'd like to respond to Dave Myers.I sympathize with you for what you went through.Your mother was so wrong to lie to you about your origins when every time you looked at your skin it told you otherwise.But thank God you finally at some point in your life came to know the truth about yourself.In all things the truth will one day reveal itself.
I commend NG for the article, for finally bringing some truth to the egyptian history matter.Some truth.Your title Black Pharoahs is quite interesting. were there other pharoahs who were not black?
NG needS to tell the whole truth of the matter. Ancient Egypt was a black civilisation for many hundreds of years.One of many on the black continent of Africa.There were many black pharoahs,kings, queens and leaders.Some we know of already and others who have'nt even been discovered yet.Regarding the latter,I pray and hope that when they are brought forth from their graves of sand,dust and water and are found to have been black when they lived,I hope that some prejudiced scholar does not distort/fudge the truth to further perpetuate the many lies and falsehoods that have been written against the black race.In other words,Dont sand down the black skin of the people on drawings you've discovered, in order to make them look less african and more caucasian.You have stolen enough of our history and distorted too many truths concerning the black race.
That egypt was a black civilisation is quite obvious just from looking at the paintings they drew of each other.They drew and painted themselves as they saw themselves.If the egyptians were white, why in God's name would they paint themselves as being black and brown skinned.In today's world,all black people are not of one shade, AND THIS WAS JUST HOW THE EGYPTIANS WERE, BLACK PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT TONES AND HUES.Some dark black,some brown,some in between.Yeah in today's egypt you may call them arab but in the west you would quickly refer to them as black, negro or african american.
Racist white scholars have always tried to fudge the truth when it comes to black history.Egypt was just one of many ancient black civilizations on the continent of Africa and indeed the world.Black people notice how whenever it comes to our history or past especially if it is a great one, there's always some suppression or fudging of the truth? This is because the those who hate us in this world want to keep us misinformed and dumb about our origins and great achievements.Try as they have,it never will work for too long because we soon find the truth of the whole matter.The black race cannot be kept in the dark.Many of us have discovered real factual truths about ourselves and our origins.These truths were always here.Although many have been distorted, disguised and hidden we found the truth of the matter and will continue to find out more about ourselves.
It started with us and if there is an ending it will end with us.
Herodotus has told the world what we looked like back then.He was'nt lying.He even talked about the colchians, how they were exactly the same people as the ethiopians.
What NG needs to do is an in depth article on the black race and how it helped to influence and create many other civilizations.
Another point, has anyone heard about the blacks that have lived in the area of the Black sea in europe(Colchis) Descendants of a black army from egypt that passed through the area hundreds of years ago.Read up on herodtus's account of the colchians.Find out more about these modern day black russians.
To end I say this.I am not a racist or despiser of any man because of his skin color, but I do say to those racist white people who have shunned and suppressed others because they were or are of darker shades than yourself,beware because your time
is short.From the first day you crawled from your caves and cold places way up north in europe and the icier regions of the planet,you have been a detriment to us.You observed us for centuries, plotting on how you would take what was ours.We befriended you, we welcomed you into our villages, towns and cities as guests,visitors and residents.You took our kindness and in turn gave us your treachery.You used our differences between us to stir up strife and caused us to fight and weaken each other.Then you pounced,took over our dwellings and proclaimed what was ours as yours.You broke us down mentally and in some instances physically.You belittled us and took us by force to places we did not wish to go.Our history you stole,tore it apart, made it yours and told us we did'nt have any.You hid our great achievements.Made us to work for hundreds of years on your plantations.
Somewhere though in the back of our minds a knowledge of our past remained.Try as u did, u did not completely destroy us.For with this knowledge of our past, we rebelled, we fought back, we inspired ourselves and slowly but steadfastly crawled out of the pit you had placed us in.We have come a long way,but there is still a ways to go.Our mind is opening up and we are coming into even greater knowledge of our past, who we were and are and the awesome things we did on this planet.

Samory Ba
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

I have a brief comment on a major piece of information omitted from the article, "Black Pharaohs." Draper fails to mention the groundbreaking research of Bruce Williams, who found the proto-Nile Valley civilization of Kush/ Ta-Seti based around Qustul, Sudan. The very first depiction of ANY Pharaoh is in Nubia (Qustul) (circa 4236 - 3500 bce). Such an omission from America's premier periodical of public history is highly problematic. The article also fails to cite the work of Cheikh Anta Diop and Theophile Obenga, who successfully defended the Africanity of Kemet, the Black country/nation (not black LAND) in the 1970s at a UNESCO symposium. Bruce Williams work has been available since the 1960s. Either, Draper made a major omission or he conveniently omitted solid & relevant research for his own agenda -to establish/suggest a racial difference between the Kemite and Kushite peoples. This was slyly suggested in the caption to the comic-painting of Piankhy's troops storming Memphis (p.36-37), where Ramses II is painted in the background as a white/pale Mediterranean figure. This is a racist suggestion that shows clear Hegelian anti-African bias. Nice photography, but Draper's Neo-Hegelian suggestions taint a potentially profound article. Oh, one last comment on Queen Tiye. The 'rumors' of her Nubian ancestry are irrelevant. Her pronounced prognathism, facial features and hairstyle mark her -and the Kemetic civilization- as a daughter of Africa. That National Geographic cannot discuss Ancient Egypt as an African civilization is very disappointing, but speaks volumes about the persistent power of racist bias. In its effort to give props to Kush and Nubia, NGM has ignored Nubia's most profound historic claim - that Kemet was its most celebrated, but still younger progeny.

chris sloan
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

RE: Samory Ba's comment. My understanding is that discoveries made since Bruce Williams's work at Qustul show that earlier, or at least contemporaneous, pharaohnic iconography appeared further north in Egypt, I believe at Heirakonpolis.

RE: J.H. Nina Jablonski is one scientist who has done much to illuminate the causes of skin color variation. A nice profile of her and a reference to her book on skin, "Skin: A Natural History," is at

Kenneth Mcfarlane
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Although i am aware of the ancestry of the pharoahs of the first dynastics period in kemet i am curious to know who NGM think they might be.
If you look at the nubians and then suggest that five miles cross the border is an entirely different race of people in kemet is absurd and totally imbecillic. Besides language,are the Germans and French that different. Egypt could not look like it did today as it did 2000 years ago. It is like saying North America looks the same today as it did 1000 years ago.
It has become very evident that there is a fear of the black/African race by our major media outlets. If people were to know the truth about African civilizations and the origins of the human race, they would be very surprise, because the media and many historians have distorted the truth.
If you are able to think for yourself, logic will dictate that certain things cannot be and can only be a particular way.
At one time they try to take Egypt out of Africa, now they are trying to take blacks out of Africa.
Anything that confuses the mind and allows you to make up lies from the truth you see and then you try to spread it to the masses,makes it a danger to yourself and society.

chris sloan
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

RE: Kenneth McFarlane. NGM reports what it hears from scientists and tries to present the most balanced perspective. So, what we (at NGM) think is not really the issue. It is what the scientific community thinks. And from what I hear, that community is not saying that there was "an entirely different race" in Egypt. They are saying the people living in Egypt in the past are much like they are today.

Ted Passmore
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

So-called white people are about 8% of the population of the earth.
They (you) are now in the process of re-classifying the race of people that were once considered to be black. The question is:


Naomi Brown
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Of course the people in Egypt today are not the same as 2000 years ago!!!!! That is a ridiculous claim. And anyway since when are Arabs considered "white" or Causasian.

Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Forgive my derision Chris, but to believe that the people of Egypt now are exactly the same as they were in ancient Egypt is a bit...naive. We have seen too many examples of similar civilizations being displaced entirely - i.e. Mayans and Incas. The African diaspora feel they need to know because it's one of the few civilizations in Africa that current society has a genuine interest in. Knowing that such a powerful civilization (its grip still exists today if it's able to evoke such debates) was composed of "blacks" would be a powerful point of pride.

Rose McCall
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

As an African-American of Ethiopian, Native American, West African, Scottish and Irish descent I was delighted to see your cover and immediately snatched it up. I don't normally buy your magazine and have not read one in more than 10 years. The story on Piankhy and his family is not new to me. I had a book when I was a teenager about him with full illustrations that is now lost to the ravages of time. I am happy you shared this story with EVERYONE and would love to see you do one on Timbuktu and the great library that the Romans talked about in ancient times. My people have a long and marvelous history that has been stunted and ignored by those who would see us as "less than human". You have made us whole again by this one story. Thank you and bless you all!

Asten Bryant
Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

Nat. Geo probably would not have been let back into Egypt if they simply came out and said what everyone with eyes can see; That ancient Egyptians were African Blacks. "Blacks" as in the social term with use today in America and Africa. Im sure some reading this and other familiar with history remember (as the article even states) when the Nubians were WHITE. Along with the Nubians you also had White Ethiopians, Tutsi, Masai etc. Also Somalians used to be "Dark Skinned Whites", Even the darkest North Sudanese were "White." Oh, and the Dinka at one point, you guessed it, were also white. This gets old. With all the technology and research we have done we are still taking steps backwards when it comes to acknowledging the true history of Africans. YES Modern Egyptians ARE the closest link to Ancient Egyptians. This is so true especially when we look through DNA. You will notice they never really come out and say that the Modern Egyptians that they are speaking of all live south of the Delta in Upper Egypt, where there has been less mixture and many in the population look and are no different from East African Blacks such as Ethiopians and Somalians. They also never come out and say that the largest percentage of DNA that modern Egyptians have is also the largest that Ethiopians and Somalis have, 2 populations that have no history of invading Egypt. We know who HAS invaded Egypt within the last 200 years, if you subtract their DNA who's do you have left? Even the legendary Land of Punt which we KNOW to be in East Africa (Ethiopia/Eritrea) had a population that was shown no different from Ancient Egyptians. Ancient Egyptians did this to show Heritage. With All this evidence we choose to still state that the Ancient Egyptians were something other than African Blacks. Sad, wake up Nat Geo, this is 2008 not 1908!

Jan 14, 2008 9PM #

JM, I think there were white Pharaohs. The last dynasty was started by Ptolemy I who came from Masadonia.

NGM seems to think Nubia conquered Egypt for Egypt's own good. How do they know this? Conquerers usually do so for personal gain, no matter what the skin color.

As for the race of the Ancient Egyptians, I doubt they were either Caucasian or Negroid, but somewhere in between.

Someone mentioned the documentary, The Real Eve. I loved it. We should always remember that we are all descended from Africans.

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