what race were the ancient egyptians yet again (oh no)

Daniel A. Foss (U17043@UICVM.BITNET)
Mon, 17 Jul 1995 19:33:25 CDT

In anyone here old enough to recall those bizarre arguments on this list
(and not only this one) anent "What Race Were The Ancient Egyptians"? Even
this writer, naive young sprat that I was, relatively speaking, that is, to
the senile dementia case I've become since, accepted the Orthodox position
that your Ancient Egyptian, as the classical-Jagger usage would have had it,
"comes in colours"; that phenotypical variability was peripheral to ethno-
linguistic unity (class hierarchy to one side to be sure, howbeit that's
quite a side); and, anyhow, as everyone Knows, you know, one cannot have
proper racists in epochs antedating the invention or selfstyling of the
White Man [deliberate - daf] in the murkily defined context of Imperialism,
The Rise of Capitalism, and their plethora of high-nebulosity cogners (ie,
Thingies) in there.

Wrong. Wednesday I impulse-bought a copy of Donald B. Redford, Egypt,
Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, Princeton University Press, 1992; it's
a brief, 471 pp, introduction to complex subject matter, as nontechincal
as is consistent with the author's awesomely enormous vocabulary the looking
up whereof is, caveattingly on my part, impeded by the publisher's execrable

The author adduces a quite amazing New Kingdom text giving thanks to the
chiefmost imaginary beings of Egypt for having made the Asiatics of the
Levant, the Nubians of southern parts, and the Egyptians themselves of
distinctly different colours. This must have been prima-faciest baloney
even at the time; no more than probabilistic for a given Egyptian's skin
colour, and distinct from subject peoples merely by placement on bimodal
or possibly trimodal distributions.

The illogical inference, that is, drawn as driven by visceral bias, is
that Ancient Egyptians were as stupid as ourselves in hierarchically-related
skin-color differention; and that race, then as now, was a matter of power.
Elsewise, why bother with it.

Is there an Afrocentrist in the house? I'd honestly be intrigued with
the possible adaptations to the implied social constructions revealed by
the text in question of theses or hypotheses anent lanolin concentrations
in the skin. I rather doubt that this is appropriate, but I have acquired,
of late, a simply gorgeous tan in whiling away the empty hours, what else
is there, during successive days of 106 degrees armenian on Bryn Mawr Beach,
one of the very numerous such vacation spots in Chicago, one of the foremost
beach resorts in the state of Illinois; and sopping up, insensibly, there is
no other way to sop it up, the cadences of "yuppie speech." Prior to Sunday,
which was yesterdayish, actually, my doubts as to the existence of yuppies,
more than epithetically, frankly knew no bounds.

Daniel A. Foss
<victory over coherence is triumph of the spirit>