When Europeans Were Slaves of North Africa

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study suggests that a million or more European Christians were enslaved by Muslims in North Africa between 1530 and 1780 – a far greater number than had ever been estimated before.

In a new book, Robert Davis, professor of history at Ohio State University, developed a unique methodology to calculate the number of white Christians who were enslaved along Africa’s Barbary Coast, arriving at much higher slave population estimates than any previous studies had found.

Most other accounts of slavery along the Barbary coast didn’t try to estimate the number of slaves, or only looked at the number of slaves in particular cities, Davis said. Most previously estimated slave counts have thus tended to be in the thousands, or at most in the tens of thousands. Davis, by contrast, has calculated that between 1 million and 1.25 million European Christians were captured and forced to work in North Africa from the 16th to 18th centuries. Davis’s new estimates appear in the book Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan).

“Enslavement was a very real possibility for anyone who traveled in the Mediterranean, or who lived along the shores in places like Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, and even as far north as England and Iceland.”

“Much of what has been written gives the impression that there were not many slaves and minimizes the impact that slavery had on Europe,” Davis said. “Most accounts only look at slavery in one place, or only for a short period of time. But when you take a broader, longer view, the massive scope of this slavery and its powerful impact become clear.”

Davis said it is useful to compare this Mediterranean slavery to the Atlantic slave trade that brought black Africans to the Americas. Over the course of four centuries, the Atlantic slave trade was much larger – about 10 to 12 million black Africans were brought to the Americas. But from 1500 to 1650, when trans-Atlantic slaving was still in its infancy, more white Christian slaves were probably taken to Barbary than black African slaves to the Americas, according to Davis.

“One of the things that both the public and many scholars have tended to take as given is that slavery was always racial in nature – that only blacks have been slaves. But that is not true,” Davis said. “We cannot think of slavery as something that only white people did to black people.”During the time period Davis studied, it was religion and ethnicity, as much as race, that determined who became slaves.

“Enslavement was a very real possibility for anyone who traveled in the Mediterranean, or who lived along the shores in places like Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, and even as far north as England and Iceland,” he said.

Pirates (called corsairs) from cities along the Barbary Coast in north Africa – cities such as Tunis and Algiers – would raid ships in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, as well as seaside villages to capture men, women and children. The impact of these attacks were devastating – France, England, and Spain each lost thousands of ships, and long stretches of the Spanish and Italian coasts were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants. At its peak, the destruction and depopulation of some areas probably exceeded what European slavers would later inflict on the African interior.

Although hundreds of thousands of Christian slaves were taken from Mediterranean countries, Davis noted, the effects of Muslim slave raids was felt much further away: it appears, for example, that through most of the 17th century the English lost at least 400 sailors a year to the slavers.

Even Americans were not immune. For example, one American slave reported that 130 other American seamen had been enslaved by the Algerians in the Mediterranean and Atlantic just between 1785 and 1793.
Davis said the vast scope of slavery in North Africa has been ignored and minimized, in large part because it is on no one’s agenda to discuss what happened.

The enslavement of Europeans doesn’t fit the general theme of European world conquest and colonialism that is central to scholarship on the early modern era, he said. Many of the countries that were victims of slavery, such as France and Spain, would later conquer and colonize the areas of North Africa where their citizens were once held as slaves. Maybe because of this history, Western scholars have thought of the Europeans primarily as “evil colonialists” and not as the victims they sometimes were, Davis said.

Davis said another reason that Mediterranean slavery has been ignored or minimized has been that there have not been good estimates of the total number of people enslaved. People of the time – both Europeans and the Barbary Coast slave owners – did not keep detailed, trustworthy records of the number of slaves. In contrast, there are extensive records that document the number of Africans brought to the Americas as slaves.
So Davis developed a new methodology to come up with reasonable estimates of the number of slaves along the Barbary Coast. Davis found the best records available indicating how many slaves were at a particular location at a single time. He then estimated how many new slaves it would take to replace slaves as they died, escaped or were ransomed.

“The only way I could come up with hard numbers is to turn the whole problem upside down – figure out how many slaves they would have to capture to maintain a certain level,” he said. “It is not the best way to make population estimates, but it is the only way with the limited records available.”

Putting together such sources of attrition as deaths, escapes, ransomings, and conversions, Davis calculated that about one-fourth of slaves had to be replaced each year to keep the slave population stable, as it apparently was between 1580 and 1680. That meant about 8,500 new slaves had to be captured each year. Overall, this suggests nearly a million slaves would have been taken captive during this period. Using the same methodology, Davis has estimated as many as 475,000 additional slaves were taken in the previous and following centuries.

The result is that between 1530 and 1780 there were almost certainly 1 million and quite possibly as many as 1.25 million white, European Christians enslaved by the Muslims of the Barbary Coast.
Davis said his research into the treatment of these slaves suggests that, for most of them, their lives were every bit as difficult as that of slaves in America.

“As far as daily living conditions, the Mediterranean slaves certainly didn’t have it better,” he said. While African slaves did grueling labor on sugar and cotton plantations in the Americas, European Christian slaves were often worked just as hard and as lethally – in quarries, in heavy construction, and above all rowing the corsair galleys themselves. Davis said his findings suggest that this invisible slavery of European Christians deserves more attention from scholars.

“We have lost the sense of how large enslavement could loom for those who lived around the Mediterranean and the threat they were under,” he said. “Slaves were still slaves, whether they are black or white, and whether they suffered in America or North Africa.”
Contact Robert Davis, Davis.711@osu.edu
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

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46 thoughts on “When Europeans Were Slaves of North Africa”

  1. I think in order to stop repeating the same confusing arguments people have to clarify what they mean by such terms as black, white, Moor etc. and even Berber and Arab. For example, as we well know in sub-Saharan Africa and for early Arab writers many who are considered “red men ” such as the Northern Fulani are considered black in the West. Red of course in the early Middle East and now in Africa is a synonym for “white”. “Moor” in Spain usually referred to a dark brown to black person.. “Moor” in Morocco has come to mean the dark brown Hassaniyya and Zwaya – descendants of Berbers Sulaym Arabs and their European adn African slaves. These people consider themselves today “red” or white men in the sense that north Sudanese and other East Africans do. However, I wish someone would show me where the early Berbers and Arabians were described as anything but a dark brown to black color. Arabs (Syrians, Iraqis, etc) were not necessarily Arabians (who were definitely described as black and dark brown in early periods). The term Berber as used in ancient time was not synonomous with North African.

  2. Jahdey (and the rest of you). Are Jamaican Rastas SO ignorant that they sit and cut/paste ideas from all over the web in ways that make NO sense? Some of you folks SWEAR you are erudites in this. No offence, but you really have got to be two screws short of a brainplate. As an African man from Ethiopia, I can’t understand you Rastas. Maybe the marijuana has burned away some of the resoning that you could use to make/cover some great points. But, it gets lost in the ridiculousness of your arguments which seriously have NO BASIS in any sort of FACT, and…….. then, there’s this seed of racial hatred that ou sow amongst each other, as if it is OK to be this way and try objective study. This is lopsided at its best. In genetic science, BLACK and WHITE do not exist, only people…… ONE HUMAN RACE (This is what Bob Marley spoke of, not this non-sense you have here.) Shame on you, brothers. You are no better than that racist stormfront site that claims everyone is “white”. Here, everyone is “black”. Ugh, I had enough wasting my time reading through this DRIVEL.

  3. Maybe it’s just Jamaicans and African-Americans. Some of you have really strange ideas. It’s like you are making this up as you go along. Jamaicans and African-Americans just talk so much that they cannot even hear the noises they make. On top of it all, the bell sounds loudest in your own backyard. It makes absolutely no sense from an outsider’s perspective. Africans come in EVERY COLOUR, EVEN “WHITE”. Ramses was BERBER and had red hair (to the ROOT). No wonder African-Americans elected an African to their Presidency. I doubt there are any African-Americans (let alone, Jamaicans) who can pull their weight through the White House. Get a REAL education. Please. It hurts to see you waste your brain on this confusing mess of a conversation that is going absolutely NO WHERE.

  4. Bekee

    The tread article you just read which pissed you off so much as to start raining curses on Jamaicans and African-Americans was written by neither but by 2 men of European Ancestry (i.e. so-called whites).

    Those two men Prof. Davis and Prof Grabmeier are teachers in Ohio State Universities and are simply writing about the history of the so-called whites nation to whom they themselves belong. Their contact addresses are also posted up for some verification by all interested souls.

    So again, what is your annoyance with African-Americans and Jamaicans?

    Rastalivewire is run by Rastas, continental Africans, Diaspora African, and Redeemed Moors of all races and types. It is not a Jamaican or African American affair. This is Rastafari livity and conception.

    As for you my poor soul. You are neither an Ethiopian nor a human being at that. You are a little cultureless pink puppy pretending to be a black man.


  5. Jahdey – i am not going to make any comments about peoples color, but I think people need to be reminded about the kinds of misleading information that has been put out by so called “scholars” . So-called “scholars” in the West came out with a book stating Ramses had red hair when in fact modern Egyptian specialists – not known for their admiration of dark complexions – could say that not only was Ramses a tall man with dark skin, but a man whose hair was definitely not red. I think the pertinent information on that link shared by Nehesy about the findings on Ramses needs to be put up somewhere and translated from French to English. Thankfully I can read French but I think it needs to be done by a native French-speaker.

  6. As for Ramses color – after analysis study on the Egyptian Supreme Counsel of Antiquities and the University of Cairo stated that the color of Ramses skin “was brown and his hair was black and not red.” In addition he was tall.

    ” Leur taille était plûtot moyenne, à l’exception de Ramsès II dont l’analyse des gènes a prouvé qu’il était taillé. Il a également été démontré que sa peau était brune et que ses cheveux étaient noirs, et non pas roux. ”


  7. The fact that some one has a Ph.D. means that they went through a process in which they presented a dissertation to a group of professors. It doesn’t mean one knows everything on every subject. It is clear that peoples perceptions and view of history can be skewed by their own nationality or nationalisms as witnessed by the response below to BBC programming that had “the audacity” to show blacks once occupied North Africa. The response is by someone calling herself an anthropologist born in Rabat and of “berber” and Catalan ancestry. Notice her racist terminology which reflects the feelings of many North Africa now speaking the language of AfroAsiatic peoples once called “black” and “woolly haired” or simply included in the category of “Ethiopians” by such ancient people as St. Jerome”. It is a prime example of much of today’s so-called “scholarship” and the reason why modern academics in the West or those schooled by them can not always be trusted – at least any more than a neo-Nazi.

    By Helen Hagan Burbank, California Ph. D.?


    1. the term “Moors” is an anglo-saxon term equivalent to “Mauri” in Latin. the “Mauri” were the inhabitants of the Roman province of Mauretania in North Africa, peopled by native Berbers whose skin colors ranged from very light to “swarthy.”

    The term was extended to Berbers who invaded Spain under Arabic leadership in the 7th-8th centuries.

    “Moors” of the era of Roman occupation in North Africa were not wooly-haired, flat nosed, big-lipped individuals of the negroid type as known to us from sub-Saharan regions of Africa. The only dark skinned people known to Greeks and Romans were the Nubians, Kushites or Ethiopians. NO sub-Saharan Negroes were part of the Roman population. The periple of Hanno – a Phenician story – recounts the encounter of Phoenician sailors who travelled beyond the detroit of Gibraltar and along the coast of Africa in a southern direction for several days with “Ethiopians” – that is another group of black-skinned people as dark as the Ethiopians known to the Phoenicians. Thee people, dark skinned and similar to Ethiopians, differed obviously from the type of light skinned individuals living in North Africa, with whom Phoenicians traded and lived for centuries.

    2. The Latin word for very dark skinned (Negro) individuals was “Ethiopi” . when they wanted to refer to an individual with a swarthy complexion, they used the word “fusuclus.” None of the people you mention in your article were considered “Ethiopians” ( black people in modern terms). They were North Africans, of Phoenician and Berber mixed origins, Judeo-berber origins, or simply Berbers, The Berber type is considered to be neither “Caucasoid” nor “Negroid” but to belong to a specifically North African indigenous type called “mechtoid.”

    3. Septimus Severus, a Libyan, was either a Berber, or a mixture of Berber and Phoenician, that is not at all “black” by any standard. It is positively false to say that he is part of a “black presence” in Great Britain. Such information should be corrected by BBC.

    4. The same goes for the soldiers recruited among North Africans who served in the Roman legions. None of them were “black” as in “Negro,” in the modern sense of the word.

    Helene E. Hagan
    Anthropologist, Burbank, Ca.

    Comment by Helene Hagan — February 19, 2008



    “Dans le cadre des recherches effectuées par l’Université du Caire en collaboration avec le Conseil supérieur des antiquités, il a été possible de parvenir aux caractéristiques
    anthropologiques des Pharaons.

    Selon les indices préliminaires, on est parvenu à un certain nombre de traits génétiques des Pharaons .

    Il a été possible de déterminer les gènes de la taille, de la couleur de la peau et de la couleur des yeux et des cheveux du roi à l’époque pharaonique dont des échantillons ont été prélevés.

    Ils l’ont été sur des momies placées dans les sarcophages. Un groupe de chercheurs a pu séparer ces gènes qui ont prouvé que les Egyptiens anciens n’étaient pas hauts de taille comme on le croyait auparavant.

    Leur taille était plûtot moyenne, à l’exception de Ramsès II dont l’analyse des gènes a prouvé qu’il était taillé. Il a également été démontré que sa peau était brune et que ses cheveux étaient noirs, et non pas roux.

    La couleur rousse qui a été trouvée sur sa momie est due à une teinture (probablement du henné). Ses yeux étaient noirs avec une légère teinte de couleur marron.

    Amenhotep III était court de taille, la couleur de sa peau était d’un brun clair. Ses yeux et ses cheveux étaient de couleur noire foncée. Ces traits prouvent que les rois étaient apparentés.

    Tous les rois à cette époque avaient une origine commune dans l’arbre généalogique de la famille royale. Il sera ainsi possible de déteminer d’une façon précise les dates et les époques dans l’avenir .

    Ces recherches vont confirmer certains traits anthropologiques qui ont été étudiés auparavant sur les momies pharaoniques. Ceci permettra de donner des indices préliminaires concernant les traits , les maladies et les caractéristiques des Pharaons. ”

    This is the Translation Below :

    Some Genetics Features of The Ancient Egyptians

    “Within the framework of the researches made by the University of Cairo in association with the superior Council of antiquities, it was possible to reach the anthropological characteristics of the Pharaohs.

    According to the preliminary indications, we reached a certain number of genetic features of the Pharaohs.

    It was possible to determine the genes of the size, the skin colour , the color of eyes and hair of the king in the Pharaonic period, samples of which were taken.

    These samples were taken on mummies placed in sarcophaguses. A group of researchers was able to separate these genes which proved that the ancient Egyptians were not high of size as we believed it previously.

    Their size was rather average, with the exception of Ramses II whose analysis of the genes proved that he was tall. It was also demonstrated that his skin was brown and that its hair were black, he was not red-haired person.

    The red color which was found on its mummy is due to a dye (probably of the henna). His eyes were black with a light tint of brown color.

    Amenhotep III was short of size , the color of the skin was of a light brown. The eyes and his hair were of dark black color. These features prove that both kings were parents.

    All kings in this period had a common origin in the family tree of the royal family. It will be also possible to determine in a clear way dates and periods (of these dynasties) in the future.

    These researches are going to confirm certain anthropological features which were previously studied on the Pharaonic mummies. This will allow to give preliminary indications concerning the features, the diseases and the characteristics of the Pharaohs. ”


    Cairo Letter No. 58 25 /04/2000 to 01/05/ 2000, a SIS publication , The Egyptian State Information Service.

  9. To Bekele, I agree there is all too much hatred being spewed on these sites and insults are not helping the matter. Never-the-less, on this site, on storm front, Mathildeblog, and African American sites that have such language , one at least is confronted with people who are not pretending to be scholars spouting misinformation. The truth is most of the anger on this and other sites whether white or black is being fuled by Western scholarship. One is not able to quote even ancient documents or references with the use of the term black for countless ancient people without being called an Afrocentric by Europeans with reputed scholarly rank.

    Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes by Stephen Howe,
    Lefkowitz book Not Out of Africa, History in Black by Jacob Shavit are all examples of books that try to deny the significant presence of so-called “blacks” north of the Sahara in the Mediterranean apparently due to some political expediency.

    And much of this is due to information that supposedly highly reputable Western scholars have put out with regard to sub-Saharan Africans in the last hundred years as being people without anything to do with civilization. Anything associated with blackness is grouped in some imaginary “Negro” category or now I guess the word is “Bantu” category as if such people existed as monolithic groupings who have always lived without civilization. The fact is, although racism hardly began with Europeans there has been by European scholarship to replace anything north of the Sudan that looked like or were affiliated with sub-Saharans with Europeans. Even big “Negroid”, Cro-Magnons of early 20th century anthropologists had been usurped into some category of ancestral “Caucasoid” between the time of Coon and Frenchman Cornevin and the recent publication of Brace and other scientist which claimed to be surprised by the fact that there is no direct link between the ancient Cromagnons (nor paleolithic North Africans thought to be Cro-Magnon-like) and modern European peoples. Thus the article by Brace had to say”… the oft repeated European feeling that the Cro-Magnons are ‘us’ is more a product of anthropological folklore than the result of the metric data available from the skeletal remains.”

    What needs to be understood is that much of the interpretation of early portayals and historical documents and the unwarranted belief that everyone from the sons of Noah to ancient Moors, Canaanites, Jews and Egyptians, and yes, early Indic Iranian- speakers and the builders of Megaliths in Europe and Palestine were “Caucasians” or affiliated with modern populations in these regions was was based on the belief that the CroMagnon and their mesolithic descendants looked like Europeans when in fact, they quite obviously looked the exact opposite.

    When dozens of writings from the Roman period to midieval Europe are found to have described the Moors as black -skinned for almost 2000 years it is retorted they didn’t mean really black or it is said -yes but at least they were not “Negroes”. When the vast majority of the skeletons found in dynastic Egypt and ancient Arabia are found by numerous early scholars to be indistinguishable from those of modern Ethiopians, Eritraeans and Somali we are told today by some “scholars” oh, ancient Egypt was a multicultural civilization with diverse populatyions related to todays as indicated by their representations (which also happen to have been predominantly of dark-skinned people) . We are never shown the documents and colonial writings on the 10s of thousands of Turks that lived in such cities as Cairo and Alexandria, or for that matter throughout North Africa.
    Nor was one likely to learn of the part played by Europeans or European related people as slaves in Spain, North Africa and Arabia, for obviousl reasons.
    When the early Achaemenid Persian rulers claimed to be kinsmen to the Ethiopians and wear hairstyles which if any curlier would be Afros we are told , the early Persians spoke an Indo Iranian language and since they were Aryans they were related to “Caucasoids”. The same thing could be said of the Philistines. When such people as the Philistines, Phoenicians and early Old Kingdom Libyans appear in ancient Egyptian tomb paintings looking like Watutsi, Ethiopians or Eritreans and Fulani of the Sahara respectively we are never shown the pictures of paintings in books nor are they blasted all over the web like the several pictures of New Kingdom Libyans that could be counted on less than two hands, and the modern sculpted head of Nefertiti that has been just discovered to have been remodeled and painted over.
    When modern populations appearing near black in Central Arabia and around the peninsula, in Israel, in the area of ancient Colchis and in the Persian Gulf we are told in the books of acaemia they are all descendants of slaves. When Berbers -speaking people are talked about in books the fair-skinned populations that are said to be the pure Berbers and even descendants of the Moors, while the Tuareg are said to be Berbers who look dark because they mixed slaves when they moved down from the North – and this is only after it is acknowledged that they came down from the North. Now even the Tuareg history is being distorted and they are pronounced latecomers to the North African landscape when they are even considered Berbers at all.
    Although most dialects of the semitic group are found in Africa in the Horn and those dialects don’t differ from other dialects of the Afro-Asiatic group we are told the dark skinned people are the “hamitic” people and semites are fair-skinned must have come down into Africa and been absorbed into the population. It is without doubt that Sabaeans and other groups of Afro-Asiatic peoples came into Africa and settled the Nile and the Horn, but the documents say these tall Sabaeans were black and in fact the people who were called Ethiopians in places like Meroe. National Geographic recently as this April has modern cartoon paintings of pharaonic Egyptians of a so-called multicultural Egypt in its latest issue all depicted as European looking ancient Egyptians wearing leopard skins that AFrican peoples characteristically wore and wear. See the below link.


    Numerous attempts have been made to separate ancient Dravidian peoples from Africans although the purest Dravidian-speakers share close links genetically, linguistically, culturally, and physically including having kinky hair. But many “scholars” including some modern geneticists have tried to suggest that whatever links Dravidians have with sub-Saharn Africans occurred over 100,000 years ago.

    The fact is, there are many European nationalist myths still circulating among “scholars” that influence the writing of history, and modern interpretation of tenetics, history and most importantly relgion. Until these myths are acknowledged as myths, people who still want to look at the facts about the ancient world are going to be considered be turned into Afrocentrics spouting silly “Afrocentric” myths (whether they are scholars or not), and perceived as the flip side of Eurocentrics in search of a glorified past.

  10. Thanks, Nehesy, for the translation of the Egyptian site. it is important to hear that all of those rulers were found to have a familial relationship through the genetic analysis.

  11. You’re welcome dear Dana.

    This study is indeed a definite (genetical) proof about the africaness of ancient Egypt.

    Unfortunately they didn’t describe the complete study in this paper. May be we could get it by contacting directly the University of Cairo.

    Kind Regards

  12. Hi Nehesy,

    Yes contacting them might be a good idea. i might try to do that this summer.

    “Ketama Sanhaja, Masmuda, Nafusa, Zenata” lived near black african and were in constant war with the ghana empire and songhai empire and were invaded by them many times…. it can explain their dark complexion i guess….

    I was glancing through this blog again and I happened upon the above note from Karim in October. Too bad i hadn’t noticed it before. The Zenata at the time of Islam were Numidia coastal Algeria. The Masmuda described by Ibn Butlan (Iraqi christian Physician) of the 10th to 11th century as Black and Abu Shama of Syria later and their largest tribe Ghomara were lat ethe time known only from their have livedin the Riff region of Morocca for the most part now occupied by fair -skinned Berber speakers who look like Europeans with some African blood. The Sanhaja and Ketama were also for those who looked at any history were of course also from northern Algeria and Tunisia. They are also mentioned earlier by Romans in the Atlas as Uakutameni and on the Tunisia coast as Mucuteni, hence the modern word Imaketan today for the eastern Tuareg.

    The same Ibn Butlan who calls the Sanhaja (Lamtuna Lamt, Lam, Hawara) and Masmuda, and Ketama or Maketa black also calls the Beja or Begawi of Nubia golden colored. This shows what was meant by the designation black.

    it also plainly shows why Ibn Qutaybah places the Berbers in the category of “blacks”.

  13. I am happy because I get to learn about curtain things like this but at the same time I am angry. Now don’t read this and think I’m angry because I’m weird, because I’m not weird. A person who watches his or her favor ate team play in a GAME of pigskin(so called “football”) or any other sport and gets angry because the team that they were rooting for lost is weird. Now, I know you cant change the past and complaining wont change anything either but man! do I hate most of the moors! Not only do I hate most of them because of their ancient civilizations that they turned their backs on and ruined in Alkebulan(Africa) but because of the completely unnecessary harm they inflicted on my Caucasian relatives. And threw many reading of history I learned that the moors not only enslave the Caucasians but they also enslaved people of their own ethnicity(the so called “Blacks” Subsaharan and Kush(Tobians, Eritreans, Somalians, Nubians, ect) in Alkebulan(Africa)) and they also helped destroy and completely screw over ancient Subsaharan and Kush so called ‘Black’ civilizations like the ancient advanced civilization of Kemet(Egypt) in North Alkebulan and Timbuktu in West Alkebulan(Africa). Most moors were tirants and what most people would call sell outs to there own kind but not all of them were bad. Some moors were against the enslavement of their people and Caucasians. There were a certain group of moors that were kind of like a secret organization called the Hassassins. The Hassassin moors specialized in assassinating their religious and political enemies in stealth. Sometimes they would kill their targets in broad daylight in order to strike fear into their enemies.

  14. Indeed, the Africans, the Moors were the first to enslave. The Euros later threw off the shackles of his Moorish submission and reversed that power dynamic, slowly, over many centuries.

  15. Along with the Latin word “Mauri” used to describe the native people living in Mauretania is the Greek adjective “mauros, -e, -o” (??????, -?, -?; pronounced “mavros” today) meaning black, dark, brown, overcast, tanned, bruised, black and blue, gloomy,
    sooty, grimy, smudgy; i.e., various shades of darkness between brown and black.

  16. Sorry about that ?????? in my previous post. I was trying to use the Greek alphabet and it didn’t quite make it. A rough transliteration using the English alphabet is “mauros, maure, mauro”, depending on whether the noun it modifies is masculine, feminine, or neuter.

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