Oh Piye!

In 730 BCE, Egypt was ruled by petty warlords and the civilization which would be the subject of many PBS documentaries had collapsed. One man, Piye, changed all that. In one year he subjugated every warlord and bought Egypt under his control. Piye and his successors not only united Egypt, but added many monuments including pyramids. Piye was a black pharaoh from Nubia (modern Sudan) and the Nubian history goes as far as the first Egyptian dynasty.

The fact that he was black did not matter to the ancient Egyptians. It also did not matter to the Greeks and Romans who knew that he was black and had art depicting it. Then, in the 19th century the Western scholars noticed.

Even famed Harvard Egyptologist George Reisner—whose discoveries between 1916 and 1919 offered the first archaeological evidence of Nubian kings who ruled over Egypt—besmirched his own findings by insisting that black Africans could not possibly have constructed the monuments he was excavating. He believed that Nubia’s leaders, including Piye, were light-skinned Egypto-Libyans who ruled over the primitive Africans. That their moment of greatness was so fleeting, he suggested, must be a consequence of the same leaders intermarrying with the “negroid elements.”

For decades, many historians flip-flopped: Either the Kushite pharaohs were actually “white,” or they were bumblers, their civilization a derivative offshoot of true Egyptian culture. In their 1942 history, When Egypt Ruled the East, highly regarded Egyptologists Keith Seele and George Steindorff summarized the Nubian pharaonic dynasty and Piye’s triumphs in all of three sentences—the last one reading: “But his dominion was not for long.”

The neglect of Nubian history reflected not only the bigoted worldview of the times, but also a cult-like fascination with Egypt’s achievements—and a complete ignorance of Africa’s past.[National Geographic Magazine – NGM.com]

Thus when a native civilization was found to have made great achivements, Western scholars wrote history to change them to light-skinned men who ruled over the dark skinned primitives. Where have we heard this before.?

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