Monday, September 24, 2007

Why King Tut's ethnicity is such a complex issue

Philadelphia Inquirer (Steven Barnes)

The author raises the issue of why the exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs has resulted in protestors saying that the organizers have downplayed the role of black Africa in Egypt's past. It is impossible to take extracts from this narrative to try to convey the overall message of the article, but here's a flavour of it:

The King Tut Action Committee of Philadelphia declared that the Franklin Institute had "knowingly misrepresented the young African king and African history, culture and heritage to over a million visitors." . . . .

Of course, asking, "Was Tut black?" raises the uneasy issue of what "black" is, of how much racial heritage constitutes "blackness." The Egyptians built their four millennia of culture in northern Africa and down the Nile, so the idea that they were a blend of genetics from (what we now call) Europe, the Near East, and sub-Saharan Africa is hardly absurd.

This subject always generates responses, and for anyone who has a close interest in the subject of ancient Egyptian ethnicity, you might want to have a look at an earlier post on the subject, which has now generated twenty comments by people offering very different opinions on the subject. If you want to join that conversation, please keep it civil! I have had to filter out a few posts, which were unacceptable due to the way in which they were phrased. Unfortunately, you will find that most of the people who posted are "Anonymous".

You will also find a much more long-standing and extensive conversation on the subject of Why Cleopatra was definately not black on the Topix website. I have only had the quickest look at this, and there iappears to be a fairly standard mixture of interesting /thoughtful and thoroughly silly posts - so visit at your own risk :-)

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