American Egyptomania Search


Crania Americana; or, A Comparitive View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America: To which is Prefixed An Essay on the Varieties of the Human Species

Philadelphia: J. Dobson, 1839


Browse scholarship by topic:

Art & Architecture
History
Literature
Religion
Science

THE NILOTIC FAMILY. 25

large and elongated, slightly inclining from the nose upwards, and always black. The nose is straight, excepting at the end, where it is rounded and wide; the lips are rather thick, and the hair is black and curly."* Mr. Madden says that they are also marked by the great distance between the eyes. Their legs and feet are badly formed, and they: are seldom graceful or pleasing in their manner. These people, now reduced to about one hundred and fifty thousand souls, are Christians, but they bear a bitter. hatred to all other sects. They are said to be of sullen temper, avaricious, ignorant, dissembling and faithless.

The Coptic language is extremely ancient and very peculiar ; nor can there be a question of the identity of the pure Coptic with the ancient vernacular Egyptian. It does not appear to have undergone any. change of grammatical structure, and it is of greater antiquity than any Indo-European or Semitic language. The knowledge of the Coptic language is at present known to but few of the Copts themselves. The Ptolemies first attempted to eradicate it by substituting the Greek in its place, and they even made it a capital offence to speak the Coptic in common conversation. The Turks have pursued the same policy, by requiring the Arabic to supersede both Greek and Coptic.

The Copts are supposed by Niebuhr, Denon and others, to be the descendants of the ancient Egyptians; and it has often been observed, that a strong resemblance may be traced between the Coptic visage and that presented in the ancient mummies, paintings and statues but it is in vain that we look for absolute identity in a country that has groaned in bondage for two thousand years. The Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabians and the Turks, have successively held dominion in this fated valley, and subjected it, in turn, to every species of oppression. The Copts, therefore, can be at most but the degenerate remains, both physically and intellectually, of that mighty people who have claimed the admiration of all ages.

The great mass of the present Egyptian population is composed of a mixed race of Copts and Arabs, who are called Moslem-Egyptians, or Fellales. They are handsomer than the purer Copts. "Their heads are a fine oval, the forehead of moderate size, not high, but generally prominent ; their eyes are deep sunk, black and brilliant ; the nose is straight and rather thick ;the mouth well formed ; the lips are rather full than otherwise ; the teeth particularly beautiful, and the beard is commonly black and curly, but scanty."

* LANE, Mod. Egypt, II, p. 310. t Lipsius, in Wiseman's Lect. p. 63.

$ NIEBUHR, Tray. in Africa, p. 71. LANE, Mod. Egypt, II, p. 32. 7



Page 3