In this Book

Black Athena
summary

Could Greek philosophy be rooted in Egyptian thought? Is it possible that the Pythagorean theory was conceived on the shores of the Nile and the Euphrates rather than in ancient Greece? Could it be that much of Western civilization was formed on the “Dark Continent”? For almost two centuries, Western scholars have given little credence to the possibility of such scenarios.

            In Black Athena, an audacious three-volume series that strikes at the heart of today’s most heated culture wars, Martin Bernal challenges Eurocentric attitudes by calling into question two of the longest-established explanations for the origins of classical civilization. To use his terms, the Aryan Model, which is current today, claims that Greek culture arose as the result of the conquest from the north by Indo-European speakers, or “Aryans,” of the native “pre-Hellenes.” The Ancient Model, which was maintained in Classical Greece, held that the native population of Greece had initially been civilized by Egyptian and Phoenician colonists and that additional Near Eastern culture had been introduced to Greece by Greeks studying in Egypt and Southwest Asia. Moving beyond these prevailing models, Bernal proposes a Revised Ancient Model, which suggests that classical civilization in fact had deep roots in Afroasiatic cultures.

            This long-awaited third and final volume of the series is concerned with the linguistic evidence that contradicts the Aryan Model of ancient Greece. Bernal shows how nearly 40 percent of the Greek vocabulary has been plausibly derived from two Afroasiatic languages—Ancient Egyptian and West Semitic. He also reveals how these derivations are not limited to matters of trade, but extended to the sophisticated language of politics, religion, and philosophy. This evidence, according to Bernal, greatly strengthens the hypothesis that in Greece an Indo-European–speaking population was culturally dominated by Ancient Egyptian and West Semitic speakers.

Provocative, passionate, and colossal in scope, this volume caps a thoughtful rewriting of history that has been stirring academic and political controversy since the publication of the first volume.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-xvi
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  1. Preface and Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xv-xvi
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  1. Transcriptions and Phonetics
  2. pp. xvii-xx
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  1. Maps and Charts
  2. pp. xxi-xviii
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-27
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  1. Chapter 1: Historical Linguistics and the Image of Ancient Greek
  2. pp. 28-38
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  1. Chapter 2: The "Nostratic" and "Euroasiatic" Hyper- and Super-Families
  2. pp. 39-57
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  1. Chapter 3: Afroasiatic, Egyptian and Semitic
  2. pp. 58-89
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  1. Chapter 4: The Origins of Indo-Hittite and Indo-European and Their Contacts with Other Languages
  2. pp. 90-115
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  1. Chapter 5: The Greek Language in the Mediterranean Context: Part 1, Phonology
  2. pp. 116-154
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  1. Chapter 6: The Greek Language in the Mediterranean Context: Part 2, Morphological and Syntactical Developments
  2. pp. 155-164
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  1. Chapter 7: The Greek Language in the Mediterranean Context: Part 3, Lexicon
  2. pp. 165-186
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  1. Chapter 8: Phonetic Developments in Egyptian, West Semitic and Greek Over the Last Three Millennia BCE, as Reflected in Lexical Borrowings
  2. pp. 187-208
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  1. Chapter 9: Greek Borrowings from Egyptian Prefixes, Including the Definite Particles
  2. pp. 209-244
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  1. Chapter 10: Major Egyptian Terms in Greek: Part 1
  2. pp. 245-275
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  1. Chapter 11: Major Egyptian Terms in Greek: Part 2
  2. pp. 276-299
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  1. Chapter 12: Sixteen Minor Roots
  2. pp. 300-311
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  1. Chapter 13: Semitic Sibilants
  2. pp. 312-324
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  1. Chapter 14: More Semitic Loans into Greek
  2. pp. 325-339
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  1. Chapter 15: Some Egyptian and Semitic Semantic Clusters in Greek
  2. pp. 340-379
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  1. Chapter 16: Semantic Clusters: Warfare, Hunting and Shipping
  2. pp. 380-404
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  1. Chapter 17: Semantic Clusters: Society, Politics, Law and Abstraction
  2. pp. 405-424
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  1. Chapter 18: Religious Terminology
  2. pp. 425-452
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  1. Chapter 19: Divine Names: Gods, Mythical Creatures, Heroes
  2. pp. 453-484
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  1. Chapter 20: Geographical Features and Place-Names
  2. pp. 485-511
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  1. Chapter 21: Sparta
  2. pp. 512-539
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  1. Chapter 22: Athena and Athens
  2. pp. 540-582
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  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 583-586
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 587-694
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  1. Glossary
  2. pp. 695-712
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  1. Greek Words and Names with Proposed Afroasiatic Etymologies
  2. pp. 713-730
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  1. Letter Correspondences
  2. pp. 731-740
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 741-796
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 797-807
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  1. About the Author
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