HELEN NOT OF TROY
Phoenicians, Egyptians and Ethiopian Kushites in the Myths and History of the Ancient Mediterranean
By Dr. Anu Mauro
Dedicated to the The First Eight Ancestors and the great Kushite American historians Dr. John Henrik Clarke and Chancellor Williams.
PART ONE – ACROSS THE WATER
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Every February it is now customary in North America to observe Black History Month. Or, as some may prefer: African History and Heritage Month. The first title uses color exclusively as an indicator. The second hints at bringing into focus not only history, but also geographical origins and cultural legacies. Then there are those who question the very notion of having just one specific month in the year dedicated to so-called “Black History.” Or any month at all for that matter.
Today, dark skinned woolly haired people (so-called ‘Blacks’) are mainly associated with the African continent, and even then, just south of the Sahara. However, similar physical types obviously undertook long distance migrations early enough in human history, to have become the ‘original’ populations in places quite far away from the African landmass.
Countries like Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Burma, Thailand, Kham Puchea, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Pacific Islands (e.g. Fiji, Solomons, Samoa etc.) as well as states like India, Pakistan and China have had or still have sizeable aboriginal Africoid populations.
In an ideal world, human hair texture and skin color would not matter much, but this ideal just does not exist. Positive and negative attitudes towards color and ethnicity continue to influence the policies and actions humans make and take on a daily basis.
Color and ethnicity still determine how people view others, but also even more, how they view themselves and their place in the universe. Social attitudes to naturally occurring human physical differences can have either an affirmative or an injurious affect on the self-esteem of an individual; shaping every-day attitudes, responses and long-term aspirations.
Therefore as long as skin tones and culture continue to be linked to degrees of access to power and privilege, and even to petty vanities like “bragging rights”, any reasonably intelligent human has little choice but to explore the connections between all of these and the history and origins of nations. And not just during some designated month, but as a life long endeavor.
This includes choosing whether to speak of African-Australians and African-Malaysians and African-Papua New Guineans or to continue identifying these groups mainly by the common physical feature of their dark skin color.
COLOR CODED HISTORY
Color was certainly one of the identifiers used by the ancient world; hence the words Ethiopia and “Aithiops.” This word is of Greek origin and translates as “burnt face.”
Ancient European writers regularly used the term ‘Ethiopians’ to describe very dark skinned populations they met. It was also linked to a specific geographical area. For many centuries, the region south of Egypt extending from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean was called ‘Ethiopia’, although the entire continent was generally known as Libya.
It should be noted that in ancient eras, apparently people were identified primarily by their nationality, and not necessarily by their skin color.
This means that when one encounters reports of ancient events, one should not automatically assume that the people in the story or legend are NOT black skinned and/or woolly haired, just because they are being referred to by their nationality and not specifically by hair texture or skin pigmentation.
One prime example involves the ancient Egyptians. They are noted for having developed –what is arguably– the most monumental and influential civilization of the ancient world. For over four thousand years, there was no major nation of the period that did not interact in some manner with the Egyptians. This includes people like the Greeks and Trojans.
But history is all about change. The population mix of present-day Mexico City, South Africa or Costa Rica is not the same as it was a mere 400 years ago. No sensible person will deny this. Yet, many still find it hard to believe that over a much longer 2500 year period, the ethnic mix of Tunisia or Egypt or Palestine might have changed even more drastically than some of those other places.
For example, by reading accounts of ancient writers like the Greek historian Herodotus (circa 460 BC) one can discover that the ancient Egyptians were most definitely a dark complexioned thoroughly African population: I.e. a nation of black skinned woolly haired natives of the African continent. (1)
In his classic work “The Histories”, Herodotus opines that this black color was the result of being burnt by the sun, and also states:” …it is undoubtedly a fact that the Colchians are of Egyptian descent… My own idea on the subject was based on the fact that they have black skins and woolly hair (not that that amounts to much, AS OTHER NATIONS HAVE THE SAME), and secondly, and more especially, on the fact that the Colchians, the Egyptians and the Ethiopians are the only races which from ancient times have practiced circumcision.” (2)
Herodotus of Halicarnassus –who is often called “The Father of History”– traveled extensively throughout the ancient world visiting the nations of Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe. His observations clearly indicate not only that the Egyptians were black skinned and related to the black skinned Colchians, but that he was familiar with the existence of OTHER black skinned woolly haired people or nations who were neither Ethiopian, Egyptian nor Colchian.
Furthermore his writings also reveal that up to 460 B.C.E. significant settlements of black skinned populations were to be found much farther north than they are today. This was obviously the case with the Colchians. They were located near the Caucasus Mountains on the shores of the Black Sea (present day Republic of Georgia).
The Colchians were an Egyptian colony originally established following a very successful Egyptian military campaign: One that did much to define the northern extent of Egyptian influence and retard the southward advance of barbarian invader tribes from the Caucasus.
Colchis began as a detachment of soldiers from the army of the Great King Sesostris. During one of the high points of Egyptian preeminence, this Pharaoh (a.k.a. Senusret) raised a mighty military force and marched decisively through Asia and Europe subjugating every nation in his path. This included the warlike Scythians and Thracians who lived in the region where ancient Troy was located. (3)
Besides the Egyptians, there were other very influential dark skinned nations of the time. A prime example: the sea-faring Phoenicians who also established colonies well to the north of the African landmass.
According to ancient traditions the Phoenicians originally came from the Red Sea / Indian Ocean area. This is the zone running from the present day Gulf of Oman through to Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia in the Horn of Africa.
In ancient times this area was known as the Land of Punt or the Land of Poenit. (4)
Upon leaving their original East African location, the ancient Punt-ites or Poenite migrants eventually reached the Middle East. They established very successful mercantile maritime city-states mainly on the coast of what is now Lebanon. The region where they settled became known as Phoenicia (= Poenit-ia or Punic-ia?).
Connecting the ancient Phoenicians directly to the African continent has become less obvious with the passage of time, and therefore more difficult.
For one thing, over several centuries successive waves of humanity have entered ‘Phoenician’ areas and drastically altered the population profile. These included the ancient Hyksos, Hittites, Assyrians, Scythians, Greeks, Persians, Macedonians, and Romans. Later additions were Peninsula Arabs during the Islamic take-over, Northern Europeans during the Crusades and especially Central Asian Turkic elements during the Seljuk Turkish occupation (11th-12th century C.E.)
However, regardless of the physical appearance of the present day descendants of the ancient Phoenicians, recent genetic research in the Middle East and North Africa seems to confirm the indigenous African origin of their ancient ‘ethiopic’ forbearers.
In the year 2004 the national Geographic reported that two or more “African” chromosome groups (M89 & M172) had been found in the populations of today’s “Phoenicians” (people living from Gaza to Turkey). (5)
The first chromosome from continental Africa (M89) dates back to about 45,000 years ago. This would match an initial grand migration of populations out of Africa into the Middle East and Asia. The second is a more recent African marker which is called M172, and that dates back to just 12,000 years ago; which could lend support to the tradition of secondary waves of migration from the Red Sea area of Africa to the Levant.
The name “Phoenician” was mainly of Greek usage. It is closely connected to the Greek word “Phoinix” which translates as “red-purple” (6)
This refers directly to the ancient Phoenician monopoly in the manufacture and trade of a very rare purple dye and its products. This dye was obtained from the shells of the Murex – a sea snail. The Greeks called this sea creature ‘porphyry’ which eventually gave rise to the Old English word “purple”. (7)
The dye produced from the Murex shellfish was a rich deep purple. It was highly prized, and highly priced. 60,000 snails were needed to produce one pound of dye. Only the very rich could afford it. As a consequence, purple became known as ” the color of royalty” and the Phoenicians became very wealthy. (8)
The ‘Phoenicians’ however called themselves “Kena’anu or “Kena’ani”, consequently they were known as “Canaanites.” The areas where they lived came to be called the Land of the Kena’ani, or the ‘Land of Canaan.’ (9)
There are some who believe that in the Canaanite language itself, the word “kena’ani” also meant purple. At any rate in Hebrew, (which is linguistically related to ancient Canaanite) the word Kena’ani refers not only to the people of the Land of Canaan (the Canaanites). It also has the secondary meaning of “merchant”, which is precisely what the Phoenicians were mainly all about: international trading.
It is now acknowledged that Hebrew was not just linked to Phoenician Canaanite, but quite directly derived from it. Ancient Canaanite also eventually gave rise to Aramaic as well. This was not a distinctive new language as such, but more the product of a renaming process. The whole Canaanite area was also called “Aram”, and its inhabitant “Arameans.” hence the language they spoke came to be known as ‘Aramaic.’ (10)
Unfortunately a number of self-serving biblical myths have done much to confuse the real connection between the Phoenicians and the Canaanites — especially considering what these myths reveal about the ethnicity of the Canaanites.
In the Bible, Canaanites are clearly identified as belonging to the group of ‘ethiopic’ or black skinned nations: the so-called children of Ham (Kham). (11)
However at the same time, since they were the aboriginal people of a much-coveted area, they are also portrayed in that document as being a great hindrance to the territorial aspirations of the landless Israelites. Consequently throughout the Old Testament, the Canaanites are denounced, demonized and marked for ethnic cleansing from the ‘promised’ land. (12)
Given the strong influence of “religious correctness ” and the important role that “Phoenicians” have played in “actual” history, perhaps it is no surprise that secular historians always seem reluctant to reveal the real link between the Phoenicians and the Canaanites (Kena’ani). However, recent archeological discoveries have shown that for the most part the ‘Canaanites’ and the ‘Phoenicians’ constituted a single nation.
For that reason it should be made very clear that the ancient Canaanites and the people who are called Phoenicians were essentially one and the same Afro-Asiatic people.
The Phoenicians were primarily maritime traders, the biggest of their day. Phoenician Canaanite merchant mariners specialized in the international trade of Egyptian and Assyrian goods as well as their own products: e.g. cedar wood, textiles, glass, wine, and dyes. They had no equals.
One special Phoenician Kena’ani monopoly from the earliest of times was the export of frankincense and myrrh. It can be argued that these aromatic gum resins might have even led them to begin commercial trading in the very first place.
Frankincense and myrrh were in extremely high demand all across the ancient world. They were used as incense, in perfumes and for embalming (primarily Egypt). The only sources for these fragrant resins were trees that grew exclusively in South Arabia (Oman/Yemen) and North Eastern Africa. This is the very region where the Phoenicians are supposed to have originated i.e. Punt.
From Punt, gum resin cargoes could easily be shipped north up the Red Sea to ports in the Gulf of Aquaba. They could then be distributed overland to customers at any point between Byblos on the Eastern Mediterranean and ancient Babylon/Sumer in the Persian Gulf. (13)
The Phoenician Kena’ani established their major international port cities at Byblos, Tyre and Sidon on the coast of what is now Lebanon.
During the third millennium B.C.E, Byblos, also known as Gubla, was the main urban center and maintained a thriving trade with Egypt.
Each city had its own king. However Tyre and Sidon were only 35 km. apart so their histories were often interwoven.
Today Sidon is called Sayda or Saida. This name has a North African as well as maritime connection, which may help to throw more light on Phoenician origins. The name Sidon associates the city very closely with the god Poseidon (Po-Sidon= ‘Father of Sidon’). Poseidon was the deity of the sea whose worship originated on the Libyan coast of Northern Africa where he was a major divinity. (14)
Tyre today is called Sur or Sauro(Zaaru) as it was in ancient eras. There was also a port called Sur in ancient Oman, which strengthens the notion of the Puntite Red Sea connections. As an Afro-Asiatic word, Sur or Sauro is related to ‘zer’ a Babylonian (Akkadian) term meaning ‘to encompass’. This is also replicated in so called Arabic numerals as ‘zero’ (= encompassing circle’).
‘Zer’ was one of the names given to the orbit of the sun. As in ancient Egypt, the sun held great religious significance in Phoenician culture. It was the fiery ‘phoenix’ bird that was born in the morn and died at dusk. Furthermore another Babylonian cosmological word ‘Saros’ denoted the cycle of time. Hence the name Sur could have been derived from the solar connection as well as from the fact that Tyre/Sur/Zaaru was the starting point as well as final port for the long ‘cyclical’ Phoenician trading voyages. (15)
Tyre (Tyrus/Tsurya/Surya/Zaaru/Sur) was the largest, the most southern and most important of the Phoenician Canaanite commercial cities. Of all the Phoenician port cities it seems to have had the closest ongoing relationship with Egypt. It was the very center of the dye trade and its origins go back to before 3000 B.C.E.
The city of Tyre/Sur was known to the Greeks as ‘Tsyrus’ or ‘Tsurya.’ The Romans called it Tyrus hence Tyre.
As a result of the regional importance and influence of Tyre/Sur/Tsurya, the Greeks began using the word ‘Tsurya’ or ‘Suriyya’ as a designation for the entire Eastern Mediterranean Coast. This was the area that extended from above the Phoenician Canaanite cities in the north down past Gaza to the frontier of ancient Egypt in the south.
It was the Greek use of ‘Suriyya’ that eventually gave rise to the word “Syria”. This led to the practice of referring to all the people who lived along that Eastern Mediterranean seacoast as ‘Syrians’. (16)
However ancient Suriyya (Syria) was never a unified political entity nor did it ever have a single ruler. Furthermore in past eras the term ‘Syrian’ did not denote any specific race or particular ethnic group.
Ancient Greek and Roman writers described some of the residents of ancient Syria as the ” Phoenicians of the Syrian coast” or “Phoenicians of Syria”. They also specially identified all those ‘Syrians’ who lived between Phoenicia and Gaza as ‘Palestinian’. (17)
This differentiated them from other ‘Syrians’ who lived north of the Phoenician cities near the land of the Khatti (Heth-ites/Hittites) and those ‘Syrians’ of the extreme south who lived along the coast between Gaza City and the Egyptian frontier: an arid area that was also inhabited by nomadic Arab tribes.
Whether or not the Phoenician Kena’ani were a unique and distinct group of ‘ethiopic’ migrants to the ‘Syrian’ Coast, there appear to have been other very ancient ‘ethiopic’ people who also lived in the Land of the Kena’ani. Furthermore according to ancient traditions these Ethiopians seem to have constituted a very key original element of the so-called ‘Syrian’ population of the Palestinian coast from the very earliest of times.
This is heavily hinted at in the legend of ‘Perseus and Andromeda.’ That heroic Greek myth prominently features characters who are clearly identified as Ethiopian and the story is set very squarely on the Syria-Palestine coast to the south of Tyre. (18)
According to the legend, on his way home from Libya, the hero Perseus stopped in Joppa, the kingdom of the Ethiopian King Cepheus and his Ethiopian queen Cassiopeia. There he rescued their daughter the beautiful princess Andromeda.
Andromeda was chained to the rocks, and was about to be sacrificed to a sea monster that had been ravaging the coast of the kingdom.
Perseus killed the monster, and despite opposition from Andromeda’s royal parents, he married the Ethiopian princess and left for home with her.
In the story, Perseus dispatches the sea monster of Joppa by using a Gorgon’s head to turn it into stone.
As it happens the site of the ancient mythical Ethiopian Kingdom of Joppa can easily be located. Joppa is now called Jaffa or Yafo and is the twin-district of the city of Tel Aviv in the modern day state of Israel.
Furthermore visitors to Jaffa today are still show the supposed ‘remains’ of the sea monster. This takes the form of a large rock standing at the entrance of the natural harbor of Jaffa.
BEL & BYBLOS
In ancient lore Andromeda’s father, the Ethiopian King Cepheus of Jaffa was recorded as being the son of the great King Belus.
The ancient Greeks tended to add endings such as ‘is’, ‘os’ or ‘us’ to the names of Egyptian and Babylonian gods. (E.g Hor-us, Osir-is, Seth-os and Is-is). This may throw some light on the possible origin of the name ‘Bel-us’ and even suggest a connection between the Ethiopian Bel-us and the Phoenician city of Byblos.
The name ‘Byblos’ if treated in the Greek manner becomes ‘Bybl-os’(=’Babel-os’ or ‘Ba-Belos’). These can then be translated either as: ‘Ba-Belos’ = ‘the place of Bel-os (Belus) or alternatively ‘Ba-bel-os’ = ‘the place of Bel’ + ‘os’
The Phoenician Ken’ani used the word Bel, Bal, Ba’El or Baal to denote the various aspects of the Divine. Many Phoenician names such as ‘Baalbek’, ‘Hasdrubal’, and ‘Hannibal’ incorporated the word ‘Bal’. Due to the similarity in regional languages, this practice stretched all the way across to the Euphrates and is echoed in the well-known place names: Ba-bel and Ba-byl-on.
However unlike Baal, which was a general honorific title meaning ‘Lord’, ‘Bel’ was considered to be a particular entity. The name has specific connotations. In the ancient traditions of the Assyro-Babylonian region (today Iraq) the name Bel is strongly associated with Cushites or Kushites (i.e. Ethiopians). ‘Belus’ was said to have been the Kushite founder and great male divinity of Babylon. He was closely associated with solar-based religious practices. (20)
The name Bel signified “The Confounder” or “The Scatterer”. The Phoenicians worshiped the female element of Bel (i.e. Belit or Belit-is) as the goddess Astarte or Ashtoreth who in Egypt was called Ast (Is-is). Consequently the name Bel was also sometimes associated with her Kushite husband Ausar (the Egyptian god Osir-is). He is credited with having traveled the ancient world spreading (= scattering) civilization by means of persuasive (= opponent confounding) arguments, music and hymn singing. (21)
BYBLOS & BIBLES
The legend of ‘Perseus and Andromeda’ seems to confirm that there must have been a significant ancient ‘ethiopic’ presence in the ‘Canaanite’ region of the ‘Syrian’ coast. Furthermore the fact that such fables were written down at all and are still known today, demonstrates the key role the Phoenician Ken’ani have played in facilitating the transmission of such myths down through the ages.
Phoenician Canaanite trading activities were a significant factor in the development of the entire ancient world and especially in the spread of knowledge and skills. Canaanite traders played a particularly crucial role in the production and distribution of the actual physical documents that contained the relevant information.
For example, the word ‘Bible’ is itself derived from the name of that very ancient Kena’ani or Canaanite port city of Byblos (Bibly-us). This is highly ironic considering the very negative treatment that the Canaanites and their gods receive in the myths of the Old Testament.
‘Byblos’ was the word used by the Greeks to refer to the writing material ‘papyrus’. This plant product was first developed and used by the Egyptians, and eventually became the primary writing medium of the ancient world. Papyrus was a key Egypto-Phoenician export trade item and it was from Byblos that the ancient Greeks imported all their supplies. (22)
The connection between the Canaanite city of Byblos/Biblyus and the provision of reading material has continued to echo down though the ages. It lingers on in the English word ‘Bibliography. It can also be found in other European languages such as French, Spanish and German in their word for library i.e. ‘bibliothoque’, ‘biblioteca’ and ‘bibliothek’ respectively.
Furthermore not only does the spread of letters, literacy and literature have a direct Phoenician Canaanite connection (e.g. phonetics) but ironically the very manner in which this diffusion occurred is directly linked to the circumstances under which the recipient populations are said to have acquired their collective name.
EUROPA & CADMUS(KADMOS)
It seems that the people who are now generically called “Europeans” also owe their own title to these ancient African-descended Phoenician Kena’ani.
The only record of the word now used to identify the westernmost area of the Asian continent (i.e. Europe) can be traced back to “Europa”. She was the only daughter of the Phoenician, King Agenor of ancient Tyre. According to legend King Agenor (twin brother of the illustrious Belus), had originally migrated from Egypt to settle in Canaan which implies strong cultural as well as family ties to ancient Egypt. (23)
“Eur-ope” translates from Greek as “broad-face”. Some would argue this is additional proof of her ‘ethi-opic’ or African connections since broad faces are hardly a common feature among people of so-called Semitic, Indo-Scythian, or Caucasian origin. (24)
The Kena’ani princess Europa, was kidnapped by sailors from Greece (Crete). They raided the Phoenician port of Tyre and carried her off. (25)
Her angry father King Agenor immediately ordered hot pursuit with the instructions that the trackers were not to return to Tyre until she was found.
The pursuers led by Europa’s brother Cadmus (Kadmos) sailed after the ‘Greek’ kidnappers in an unsuccessful search for the princess. Being unable to return home empty handed they ended up establishing permanent colonies in some of the places they touched during the search. This included founding the ancient city of Thebes in central Greece. In myth and legend Thebes became the most renowned of all the ancient Greek cities.
As a consequence of the kidnapping, the region of the Western and Eastern Mediterranean where the Phoenician Canaanite search took place became associated with the princess ‘Europa’: hence the name Europe.
Over the centuries the Phoenician Canaanites set up outposts, created a network of settlements, and founded cities all around the ancient Mediterranean, Aegean Sea and Black Sea. (26)
They established at least fifty of these colonies extending from Spain and Portugal in the south to Greece and Turkey in the North. Well-known European cities like Marseille in France, and Cadiz and Barcelona in Spain were first established by these African descended Phoenician-Kena’ani mariners.
CADMUS, ALEPH & BETH
Besides contributing to the founding of their colonies in ‘Europe’ it is also as a result of the Phoenician Kena’ani search for princess Europa, (coupled with their international trading exploits), that the system of alphabetic writing became the universal standard.
It was the Phoenicians who first introduced writing and the alphabet to the Greeks and other nations of Europe sometime after 1500 BCE. Credit for this is given to Cadmus the brother of Princess Europa who according to Greek legend brought the so-called ‘Cadmian’ symbols with him first to Thebes during the search for his ‘broad-faced’ sister. (27)
However the Phoenicians were just the transmitters. The ancient Kushite Egyptians had originally created and used this ‘alphabetic’ symbol writing system for at least two thousand years before the transfer occurred. By 3000 B.C.E ancient Egyptian temples already had libraries and ‘Governors of the House of Books’ i.e. chief librarians. (28)
The Kushite Egyptians used an iconographic or picture based structure that is still known by the first two symbols of the original configuration: Aleph (ox) and Beth (house). Both of these, — along with the third letter ‘gimel’ i.e. gamma: the herding / reaping hook – were fundamental elements in the settled land-based cattle rearing and farming cultures of ancient Kush and Egypt.
This provides strong support for considering the original Kushite/Egyptian origin for this coding structure, since such ‘domestic’ symbols would have been much less important to an essentially mobile maritime trading nation like the Phoenician Kena’ani. Most likely these would not have been their very first choices. (29)
The overall significance is that it is impossible to fully examine the achievements of the Phoenicians without also taking into account the added influence of their long time Kushite neighbors and mentors the Egyptians.
For the greater part of their history, the Phoenician Kena’ani were very closely allied to Egypt. For one thing they both seemed to have originated from the same part of the African continent. In many ways therefore, it was a fraternal alliance with a record of contact stretching back to the earliest beginnings of both societies. (30)
According to Egyptian traditions the first Egyptians called themselves ‘Anu’ or ‘Ani’. They indicated they were originally a colony of Kushites (i.e. ‘ethiops’) from southern Nubia (Sudan) who migrated north down the Nile River Valley to the delta region with their cattle. There they built dams to redirect the river and combat the floods. They then established their influential civilization at the mouth of the Nile where it empties into the Mediterranean. By their reckoning, this process began sometime around 10,000 BCE. (31)
Similarly, the African Poenite mariners who later became known as Phoenicians, always called themselves ‘Kena’Ani’ or ‘Kena’Anu.’ They were also migrants who had originated from a southern location in Eastern Africa (Yemen-Somalia). (32)
During their own initial maritime migrations to the ‘Syrian’ coast, the Puntites had sailed north along the Red Sea to the Sinai Peninsula as well as down the Nile to the Mediterranean. They had also stopped at various points along the way and built up settlements, for example on the Mediterranean Coast of Northern Africa in ancient Libya and especially in Egypt. (33)
It was these Puntite migrant mariners who established the first major port in ancient Egypt. It was located on the Mediterranean at the Canopic mouth of the Nile in the District of Buto near ancient Memphis.
Memphis was the first city to be built in ancient Egypt’s delta region and therefore the oldest. Consequently Puntite migrations to Lebanon and the establishment of Kena’ani ports like Byblos must have occurred also at a relatively early period. What is on record is that by 450 BCE one of the most important temples in the Phoenician Kena’ani port city of Tyre had already been in existence for over 2300 years.
There is additional evidence of this close and quite ancient connection in the very earliest of all Egyptian myths. It describes the development of Egyptian civilization: In this story Isis (Ast) the queen, sails from Egypt to Byblos in Phoenicia to look for the casket that contained the body of her husband Osiris (Ausar) – the mythical first God-King of Egypt.
After returning from one of his civilizing missions Osiris had been killed in a palace coup led by his conspiratorial brother Seth. The casket had been thrown into the Nile. According to legend it had eventually washed up on the shores of Lebanon. The casket had then ended up in the palace of the King of Byblos from where Isis was able to retrieve the body and return with it to Egypt. (34)
It should therefore be no surprise to find that in addition to other Egyptian deities the Phoenicians also erected important shrines to the Egyptian Goddess Ast (Isis), the Queen of Heaven all along the ‘Syrian’ Coast and in their foreign settlements. They were very likely the first people outside of Egypt to have done this. Isis/Ast was the foremost deity of the city of Byblos where she was worshipped as Ast-arte (Astoreth) and served as protector of the city and of the royal dynasty. (35)
RULERS OF THE DEEP
In tandem with the Egyptians, the Phoenicians were major players in ancient history. The Phoenicians were the first big naval and trading power of the ancient world.
They were the first mariners to sail at night using the stars for navigation.
They sailed around the Black Sea and as far north as Britain seeking tin from mines in Cornwall to mix with copper from Cyprus to produce bronze. (36)
Under orders of the Pharaoh Necos, they circumnavigated the African continent stopping at places like Mozambique and Angola. They may even have voyaged across to the Americas some 2500 years before Columbus. (37)
Their ships used manpower as well as sails. Depending on the size, they employed either 30 or 50 oarsmen.
The design of Phoenician ships was based on earlier Egyptian models that were used on the Nile. In the 1950s a 4,500-year-old streamlined 100-foot long Egyptian ocean-going vessel was found next to the Great Pyramid in Giza. In 1991 an entire fleet of even older boats was also discovered buried in the desert at Abydos in Upper Egypt.
Egyptian vessels are the first in recorded history to have used wood for construction. (38)
The wood for Egyptian and Phoenician ships was available in abundance from the very large cedar and cypress forests that grew on the mountains of Lebanon. After being trimmed the logs could easily be rolled downhill. The ready access to this key natural resource, may have contributed significantly to the original Phoenician decision to develop major settlements in the Lebanon area.
However in later centuries major maritime activities were not just centered on the Eastern Mediterranean. A section of Phoenician aristocracy led by Princess Elissar, in 818 B.C.E. left Tyre and established a new city named Carthage on the Northern Coast of Africa, (present-day Tunisia).
In order to distinguish it from ‘Syrian’ Coast Phoenician cities, the ancient writers referred to Carthage as ‘Punic’ (Poenic). (39)
The African city of Carthage eventually became the richest metropolis in the ancient world.
With Carthage as their new center, by the 6th century BCE the Punic Kena’ani had developed a widespread commercial maritime empire. They controlled all the major seas and the entire North African coast from the Atlantic Ocean near the Pillars of Hercules up to the western border of Egypt. Their territories in the Mediterranean included Spain, parts of France, Malta, Sardinia and Sicily.
Even during the historical wars between the ancient Greeks and Persia (today Iran) the Phoenician Kena’ani continued their exclusive control of the sea. The landlocked Persians had no fleets, sailors or maritime experience. They depended on Phoenician ships to move their troops across water and to attack the Greeks at sea.
In return, the Persians refrained from attacking Phoenician Kena’ani cities by land. In contrast, ancient stately Egypt did not have such options. It was always the main focus of aggression by the ambitious upcoming rivals such as the Assyrians, Persians and Greeks.
Egyptian power began to wane sharply after 500 BC. Egypt as well as Sidon, and the other Phoenician cities were finally overrun first by Persia and then Greece after 350 BCE, however Punic Carthage stayed strong and independent.
Beginning in 409 BCE, for the next 150 years the Punic Kena’ani in Carthage fought off continuous attempts by newcomers Greece and Rome as they jealously tried to ‘muscle in’ on the Kena’ani control of the maritime commerce of the ancient world.
Even with the rapid rise of Rome, the Punic Kena’ani of Carthage were still a considerable force to be reckoned with up to 217 B.C.E.
In that year one of their most famous descendants: Hanni-bal of Carthage –the great African military genius and statesman — triumphantly marched his invading army across the icy snow laden Alps from Spain into Italy. He was just 27 years old.
The 40,000 strong force included cavalry and a considerable number of war elephants. Hanni-bal spent the next fifteen years in an effort to conquer Rome and its growing empire before being called back to Carthage (202 B.C.E.) to defend that city from Roman counter attack.
He eventually concluded a peace deal with the Romans, but mutual trust was lacking and Hanni-bal was eventually pressured into leaving Carthage in a hurry.
The Roman success in Carthage marked the end of the Phoenician Kena’ani as preeminent masters of maritime world. Rome grounded its ships, took over its territories and assumed complete control of the western Mediterranean.
After being unable to rally Syrian coast leaders to resist the continuing Roman imperial advance, Hanni-bal left the Eastern Mediterranean region. Rather than surrender to Rome he took his own life in Thynia, which lies just north of Troy. Ironically, Thynia was among the first places the Phoenicians had colonized in their legendary search for “broad-faced” Europa.
The final destruction of Carthage by the Romans included completely demolishing that rich city and then maliciously spreading salt over the devastated ruins. It marked not only the end of Punic Kena’ani power but even more definitively symbolized the end of the preeminence of Kushite African nations in the ancient world.
The march of civilization that had begun nearly 10,000 years before in the Land of Nubia (God’s Land) with the migrations of the Kushite/Egyptian Ani and the Puntite Kena’ani, was continuing to move north and west. However the standard was now in different hands.
The new bearers were nations that just 500 years before had been regarded as brutal barbarian raiders by the older civilizations. They were a culture whose legends describe their founders as having been suckled by a wild canine she-wolf as opposed to being nursed by a semi-divine royal human female; as was the case with the model Kushite/Egyptian sovereign Hor-us.
The standard was therefore now firmly in the possession of an aggressive merciless martial people. They worshipped and were guided much more by Ares/Seth/Mars the male god of war, plunder, jealousy and destruction than by Demeter/Isis/Venus, the female Mother goddess of peace, joy, productivity and civilization.
But, although ancient Egypt’s political influence waned, its cultural legacy was far too strong and all pervasive to just fade away. Egyptian achievements and assembled knowledge remained crucial in building the foundations of the new up-and-coming Northern civilizations, and indeed that of the planet as a whole.
THE UNACKNOWLEDGED DEBT TO EGYPT
In addition to shaping language and communication in Europe and all across the ancient world, the ancient Egyptians also influenced Architecture, Politics, Government, Law, Religion, Philosophy, Medicine, and Science. In early periods this impact was enhanced by the presence of the thriving Phoenician colonies and Egyptian client states throughout the Middle East and Asia Minor.
In later centuries, people from those areas would continue to regard Egypt as the center of learning and make pilgrimages to this southern source.
As a consequence the newcomers Greece and Rome continued to walk with some respect in the footsteps of the titans who had gone before them.
In the current era however, it is almost invariably Greece and Rome that are routinely credited with being the actual cultural pioneers. So along with discounting the African nature of ancient Egyptian society, most current examinations especially ignore the fact that Egypt was a very lively, productive, joyous, vibrant, creative, stylish and influential civilization.
Instead there is a great tendency to present ancient Egypt as a long departed but still highly exotic Pharaonic relic. It is therefore often portrayed as a society that isolated itself within its borders principally occupied either with wallowing in a somewhat ominous and all-pervasive “cult of the dead” or with enslaving hapless foreign drifters.
On the other hand, unlike the current curious silence about Egypt’s real historical influence, the ancient Greeks themselves acknowledged their own deep cultural indebtedness to Egypt.
The Ancient Greeks indicated quite clearly that they had acquired the names of all of their Olympian gods and the practice of religion itself from the Egyptians. To this can be added other important intellectual attainments such as mathematics, philosophy and the science of astronomy. The ancient Greek philosophers plainly state in their writings that it was the Egyptians who first developed mathematics and it is from them that the Greeks learned the metaphysical arts. (40)
In Book 1 Paragraph 7 of his treatise on Metaphysics none other than the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote:
“At first he who invented any art whatever that went beyond the common perceptions of man was naturally admired by men…..(The) sciences which do not aim at giving pleasure or at the necessities of life were discovered… first in places where men first began to have leisure. THIS IS WHY THE MATHEMATICAL ARTS WERE FOUNDED IN EGYPT; FOR THERE THE PRIESTLY CASTE ARE ALLOWED TO BE AT LEISURE.”
But situations inevitably change. For one thing human sentiments are notoriously fickle. The respect and gratitude of one moment or era can quickly give way to the disdain and disrespect of the next.
Notes for PART ONE – ACROSS THE WATER
1. The word ‘Egypt’ is of Greek origin derived from Aegypt-os the name of an early King. Egypt was formerly known as the ‘Land of Ham’ (Kham).(Psalms 78:51 & 105:23) The ancient Egyptians called) their country Kemet or Chemi (Khemi) and themselves Kemmiu (= The Black people). In hieroglyphics Kemet was written without vowels as KMT (= The Black Land). KM means charred or coal black. It was the strongest term that denoted blackness and was represented by a block of wood charred on the end. There are some who steadfastly argue that this referred to the color of the earth of Egypt and doubt that it also described the color of ‘ethiopic’ people of that land.
(Source: Anthony T. Browder, ‘Nile Valley Contributions To Civilization: Exploding the Myths – Volume 1′(Washington DC: Institute of Karmic Guidance, 1992), pg.52
2. Herodotus, ‘The Histories: Books 1-9′, Translated by Aubrey Selincourt: (Penguin Classics Paperback, United Kingdom, 1988), pgs. 137 & 167
3. The Scythians were nomadic European tribes that roamed the steppes from modern day Hungary eastward to the mountains of Turkistan and the Caspian Sea including what is now Moldova, Ukraine, and eastern Russia. It is thought they originated in the Altai Mountain region. Scythians engaged primarily in war and plunder. As late as 450 B.C.E. they had no agriculture, lived in covered wagons, fought on horseback, practiced human sacrifice, wife swapping and ritual cannibalism, and existed mainly on a diet of horse milk, meat and fish. (Source: Herodotus, Ibid. Pg.128)
4. Punt, Poenit, Pont, Phunt, Phut, Put Puntite, and Poenite, were the various names given to the area. The ancient tradition of an East African location for Punt continues to the present day. In the late 1990s as the Somali central government disintegrated, one part of that country declared itself the independent republic of Puntland. (Source: Wikipedia: Poenit)
6. Chambers Etymological English Dictionary Edited by A.M. McDonald (B.A. Oxon)
W.R. Chambers Limited, United Kingdom, 1967
7. Three species of snails were used as the source of dye. These were the Banded Dye Murex (Murex trunculus Linnaeus), the Spiny Dye Murex (M. brandaris L.) and the Rock Shell (Thais haemastoma Lamarck).
(Source: Dr. Frederick A. Aldrich: Sciencefare September 29, 1978: Memorial University of Newfoundland)
8. American mollusk specialist R. Tucker Abbott estimates that at today’s prices one pound of purple dye would cost between $10,000 and $12,000. Others like Robinson (1971) calculated the price in the year 300 CE at $28,000 per pound. (Source: Dr. Frederick A. Aldrich, – Sciencefare, September 29, 1978: Memorial University of Newfoundland)
9. “And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha. (Genesis 10:19 King James Bible)
10. Canaanite is a member of the Afro-Asiatic Language group. This consists of a family of about 250 related Northern Africa and the Middle East languages. They are all considered to have HAD A COMMON ORIGIN IN NORTH EASTERN AFRICA!! The group includes Arabic, Amharic (Ethiopia today), Ge’ez, Hebrew, Hausa, Tuareg, Oromo, Somali, as well as ancient idioms such as Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian), Ugaritic, and Aramaic. The oldest member of the group is considered to be ancient Egyptian (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica). Despite the strong linguistic similarities between them all, there has been a pronounced tendency to try to isolate some ‘dialects’ like Arabic and Phoenician from Ancient Egyptian and to label those somehow as ‘purely Semitic’, independent, and thus not heavily derived or influenced by their original Kushite parent source.
11. “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and
Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.” (Genesis 9:18)
And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. (Genesis 10:6)
(Cush=Ethiopia; Mizraim=Egypt, Phut=Libya; Canaan=Syria/Palestine)
12.” Noah …cried.. “Canaan’s children shall be born ugly and black! Moreover, because you twisted your head around to see my nakedness, your grandchildren’s hair shall be twisted into kinks, and their eyes red; again because your lips jested my misfortune theirs shall swell;”
(Quotation taken from “Hebrew Myths” by Graves and Patai, from following original religious sources: B Sanhedrin 72a-b, 108b, B. Pesahim 113b; Tanhuma Buber Gen. 49-50; Tanhuma Noah 13,15; Gen. Rab 341.)
13. The Gulf of Aquaba is linked to the Red Sea on the south by the Strait of Tiran; at its head in the north are the ports of Al ‘Aqabah,(Jordan)and Elat,(southern Palestine). Two islands in the Gulf seemed to have been part of the Kena’ani transshipment system. These are the Isle of Fara’oun (Pharoah’s Isle) in the north and the Isle of Tiran (Tyr-an?) at the mouth. In both places, archeologists have found evidence of ancient shipbuilding and vessel maintenance.
(Source: ‘From the Red to the Med’ by Harry Bourne (2003): http://phoenicia.org
14. Martin Bernal,’Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Volume 1 The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985 – Rutgers University Press, (New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1987} pg.67
15. Rev Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons or The Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife, First published as a pamphlet in 1853. http://philologos.org/__eb-ttb/sect221.htm (pg.9)
16. Syria and Assyria are two different entities. Syria is not an abbreviated form of the word “Assyria.” Ancient Assyria was a Babylonian development. The name Assyria was most likely derived from Ashur (Osir-is?) the mythical first king.
17. In Old Testament texts (Genesis 10:6) the very same area of Syria-Palestine is identified as being the eastern portion of the Land of the Canaanites.
18. Robert Graves, ‘The Greek Myths Vol. 1′ Number 73 Perseus, Penguin Books Ltd.,(Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England 1955, 1960) pg. 237
19. The general denouncement of Canaanites and their gods in various biblical stories has done much to demonize the words ‘Baal’ and ‘Bel’. Subsequent misinterpretations of those texts, which portray the hypothetical Baal deities as being in an eternal competitive polytheistic struggle with a supposedly more superior ‘monotheism’, have not helped either. This attitude seems to have had more to do with faith-based jealousies and the promotional agendas of various rival cults than with any intrinsic theological or historical reality.
20. The founding rulers of the cities Nin-eveh and Nippur in ancient Babylon (Sumer) were said to be descendants of Cush (Ethiopia). In ancient Babylon there were two northern settlements named Kish and Kutha respectively and another to the south named Kisurra. Nin-neveh (= ‘The habitation of Nin-us’) is said to have been founded by Nin-us the first king of Assyria. Ninus is considered to have been a son of Bel-us or Bel the founder of Babylon. In the Old testament Nimrod the Mighty One is the son of Cush (Ethiopia) who is credited with establishing Erech (Uruk), and Accad (Akkad), as well as Babel. Even today the main part of the ruins of Nineveh is still called Nimroud.
(Source: The Two Babylons – http://philologos.org/__eb-ttb/sect221.htm (3/15)
21. The Two Babylons, ibid. http://philologos.org/__eb-ttb/sect221.htm (5/15); See also Veronica Ions, ‘Egyptian Mythology’ The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd. (Feltham, Middlesex, England 1982)pg. 49
22. It is from ‘papyr-us’ that the English word ‘paper’ is derived.
23. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths Vol. 1, No. 58: Europe and Cadmus,
Penguin Books Ltd., (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1955, 1960) pg. 194
24.The term Semite is a relatively recent invention. It has no firm basis in history. It emerged at the end of the 18th century, which some have called “the golden age of spurious racial classification.” The term was first proposed in 1781 by Ludwig Schlozer, not as an ethnic description but only with respect to languages related to Hebrew. See Eichhorn’s “Repertorium”, vol. VIII (Leipzig, 1781), p. 161. Through other Eichhorn writings the term came into more general use. (cf. his “Einleitung in das Alte Testament” (Leipzig, 1787), I, p. 45. and “Gesch. der neuen Sprachenkunde”, pt. I (Gottingen, 1807). After 1807 the term was increasingly applied not just to language but to specific human population groups as well. (Source: Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII)
25. Like other areas in the ancient Aegean Sea, the island of Crete had experienced a very significant in-migration of both Egyptians and Libyans at a very early period. These migrants became a prominent part of Crete’s population. At the time of the supposed raid of the ‘Greeks’ on Tyre, Crete was already a mixed society and by no means a homogeneous ‘non-ethiopic European’ society. Excavations in the Greek mainland, Mediterranean and Agean islands (and especially on Crete) have yielded significant remains of ‘ethiopic’ types very similar to Kushitic pre-dynastic Egyptians and people of Somaliland. Once again showing that in the ancient times nationality was not necessarily a certain indicator of ethnicity.
26. The new Phoenician settlements in these areas would have constituted an additional wave of colonists of North African origin to the Western Mediterranean. Ancient chroniclers stated repeatedly that migrants from Egypt and Libya had established many settlements in the Greek Islands from the earliest of times and had became ruling families. The most notable group was the legendary Danae described by ancient writers as ‘black and smitten by the sun.’ These settlements included Crete, Thera, Argos and the city of Athens. That city was recorded as being founded by Egyptian pharaoh Senwosret I who took the North African deity ‘Neith’ (Athe-neith or Athena) as his patron goddess and named the city after her.
(Source: Martin Bernal, ‘Black Athena’: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Volume 1 The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985 – Rutgers University Press, (New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1987)
27. Despite being so central to the spread of writing and culture few Phoenician artifacts still seem to be in existence. It is claimed Phoenicians did not leave much that was distinctive and that their papyrus documents did not last. However given the strong anti-Canaanite and anti-Punic hostility throughout history it is quite possible that material was maliciously destroyed, hidden or attributed to others ( e.g. Egyptians since the cultures were so similar). And especially if these did not match the conventional views of how Canaanite or Phoenician culture was ‘supposed’ to look. View a picture of a mixed ‘broad faced‘ Phoenician woman.
28. In addition to iconographic hieroglyphs (Greek for “sacred carving”) there were two kinds of papyrus based cursive writing in Egypt: hieratic (sacred writing) and demotic (common writing). As is customary today with most scripts, Egyptian writing also ran from right to left. (Source: Herodotus, Ibid; Pg. 143;/ Re. ‘librarians’ see: Nile Valley Civilizations. Ibid; pg.123)
29. The Phoenicians had vineyards, but when compared to Egypt, the arable land space in the Ken’ani areas of the ‘Syrian’ Coast was quite limited and not conducive to extensive agriculture. Furthermore as textile dealers the Phoenicians were much more interested in raising sheep to obtain wool rather than farming beef/dairy cattle. (Source: Phonecia.org)
30. The ancient Egyptians called Punt ‘the land of the Gods’. The braided beards on the pharaohs are called ‘Puntite’ beards. The oldest known Egyptian expedition to Punt was organized by fifth dynasty pharaoh Sahure (2400 B.C.E). There are also records from circa 1950 B.C.E., indicating voyages to Punt in the time of Mentuhotep III, (11th dynasty). Also the 12th Dynasty pharaoh Senuseret III (circa 1930 B.C.E) had a canal specially constructed to link the Nile to the Red Sea for direct trade with Punt. Much later in the 16th century B.C.E., the officer Nehsi is recorded as having made a famous voyage to Punt for Queen Hatshepsut to obtain myrrh. The sculpted evidence remains in her temple (present day Dehr el-Bahri). Several of Hatshepsut’s successors, including the Great Thutmoses III, also organized expeditions to Punt.
(Source: Egypt Revisited – Ibid. pgs.105-116; / See also Poenit: Information From Answers.com)
(31) Archeological evidence points to significant environmental changes around this period (8,000 BCE). These include severe earthquakes and the drying up of the once green Sahara region, which would have prompted the migration of traditional Kushite cattle raisers closer to major water sources in the Nile Valley.
32. In the relief sculptures of the Temple of Hatsepshut, Perehu the King of Punt is shown wearing gold rings on his right leg. This seems to have remained a ‘traditional’ Phoenician practice on the Lebanese Coast.
(Source: ‘From the Red to the Med’ by Harry Bourne (2003): http://phoenicia.org
33. It is perhaps especially significant that the Phoenicians were allowed to establish permanent settlements in Egypt in this early period. Like most successful self-made societies that aim to protect their culture, the ancient Egyptians had a very strict immigration policy and an “us and them” sense of identity. They readily intermingled with neighboring Ethiopian Nubians (18 of whom became pharaohs) as well as Lybians (who called themselves ‘Anu Tehennu’) but apparently prohibited settlement by groups of ‘non-ethiopic’ foreigners. Herodotus reports major foreign settlement was not allowed until after 550 B.C.E. when Egyptian power was already in deep decline, at which time the first colony of foreigners (Greeks) was permitted.
34. Veronica Ions, ‘Egyptian Mythology’ The Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd. (Feltham, Middlesex, England 1982) pg. 50
35. The word ‘anchor’ is said to be derived from the Greek ‘ankylos’ meaning ‘to bend or hook’. However the adoption by the Phoenicians of Isis/Venus as a maritime goddess may well have influenced the final design of that marine object. Besides the name ‘anchor’ the design elements of a classical anchor strongly suggest an Egyptian ‘ankh’ symbol with the usual circle and cross, fused to a lower arc; recalling a crescent moon. The crescent moon or horns were the principal symbols of Isis the mother goddess whose name meant stable seat or throne. So not only was this design highly functional as a grappling hook but it provided material and (via Isis and the Ankh) spiritual stability and protection as well.
36.The term ‘copper’ is apparently derived from the Phoenician Kena’ani word for that metal. The Phoenician name for Cyprus was ‘kupri-jo’ (= Land of Copper). The word Cyprus can be broken down into Cypr + us (=copper + us).’ Copper’ entered the English language via the Latin word ‘cuper’.
37. ‘From the Red to the Med’ by Harry Bourne (2003): http://phoenicia.org: ALSO Van Sertima, Ivan, ‘They Came Before Columbus’, Random House, (New York 1976)
38. The Phoenician maritime pioneers called themselves: Kena’ani. Their word for boat was ‘oni’ and for ship:’oni-yath’. Chambers Etymological Dictionary gives the origin of the word ‘yacht’ as Dutch, coming from ‘jaght’(= to chase or hunt) It is supposedly linked to ‘jaghtship’ the small chase or pursuit boat on which Charles II returned to England in 1660 following the end of the English Civil War.
39. It should be noted that excavations in Punic Carthage have encountered NO so-called Semitic type skeletons (i.e. thin noses long oval faces etc.) Instead they found fairly short faces, on skulls having prominent bumps on the sides and top of the cranium. These are similar to remains found at sites in Lebanon. The finds are doubly interesting since due to its African location most of the population of Punic Carthage was most definitely of indigenous African ancestry.
(Source: African Presence In Early Europe: Essays from Journal of African Civilizations – Edited by Ivan Van Sertima, Transaction Publishers (New York/London 1993)
40. THE POCKET ARISTOTLE: Selections from Physics, Politics, Nicomachean Ethics, Metaphysics and Poetics, Translated under the editorship of W.D.Ross, Washington Square Press Publication of Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster Inc 1230 Avenue of the Americas News York, N.Y: 10020 (1958)