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

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that Herodotus speaks of the Colchians as Egyptians: to which it may be answered, that he does so in a generic or comprehensive sense; precisely as in our own time the army of Ibrahim Pacha is said to be composed of Negroes and Fellahs, who, with all their motley grades, receive the collective name of Egyptians.. As Herodotus is chiefly appealed to by those who would merge the Egyptian in the Negro, I think some extracts "from his work will show that he himself had no such view. He has for example the following passage: "The priests afterwards recited to me the names of three hundred and thirty sovereigns (successors of Menes:) in this continued series, eighteen were Ethiopians, and one a female native of the country—all the rest were men and Egyptians." Let us analyse this passage. It is admitted that these eighteen Ethiopianst were foreigners; yet in all probability Nubians, and not Negroes. If it be contended, however, that they were real Negroes, then it will follow that only one-eighteenth part of this long line of monarchs could have been of Negro origin. It is also reasonable to infer, that whatever may have been the national character of this exotic minority, they reigned in Egypt by usurpation or by conquest.$ Moreover, this "female native of the country," was Nitocris, who is described by Manetho as "remarkably beautiful, with a fair skin and flaxen hair."§ It is unnecessary to remark that no two personal traits could be more diametrically opposite to those of the Negro than these; and as Nitocris was a native Egyptian, and of the royal line, we may reasonably infer that she possessed, in an eminent degree, the national characteristics of the high-caste Egyptians.

This question is further elucidated by the numberless pictorial and other representations in the tombs of Egypt and Nubia. Thus, in the plates to Belzoni's Researches, among the most ancient Nubian remains, we see figures of various complexions, from a light flesh-color to a dark red, and these are conjoined with strictly Caucasian or Asiatic features. Another series represents four unequivocal Negroes, marked by every characteristic trait, including, of course, a jet black skin; while, on the same picture, and as if to enforce the distinction of race by a direct contrast, several other personages are seen with fair skins and Caucasian lineaments.

"Black people," says Mr. Wilkinson, "designated as natives of the foreign land of Cush, are generally represented on the Egyptian monuments either as captives, or as the bearers of tribute to the Pharaohs." 1f "I remarked," says Denon, "many decapitated figures: these were all dark, while those who had struck off their heads, and still stood over them sword in hand, were red."**

* This feature of the modern Egyptian army is well explained in Burkhardt, Tray. p. 341, &c.—Long after this part of my manuscript was ready for the press, I read the learned. Dr. Wiseman's Lectures on the Natural History of Man, in which I find the following corroborative passage: "It is ot easy," he remarks, "to reconcile the conflicting results thus obtained from writers and from monuments, and it is no wonder that learned men should have differed widely in opinion on the subject. I should think the best solution is, that Egypt was the country where the Greeks most easily saw the inhabitants of interior Africa, many of whom doubtless flocked thither and were settled there, or served in the army as tributaries or provincials, as they have done in later times; and thus they came to be confounded by writers with the country where alone they knew them, and were considered a part of the indigenous' population." Ant. ed. p. 97.

t The geographical meaning of the word Ethiopian will be explained in the chapter on the Negro Race.

$ Hemet. Euterpe, lib. c.

Mssn tho, as quoted in Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt, I, pp. 28, 91. The reader may also put his own construction on the following passage in Herodotus: "We may venture to assert," says he, "that after the Africans, there is no people in health and constitution to be compared to the Egyptians."—Euterpe, cap. LXXVI. II Researches, folio plates.—Dr. Wiseman also refers for further proof to Hoskins's Tray. in Ethiopia, which I have not seen.

q Ancient Egypt, I, p. 4. •• Vey. II, p. 296.

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