Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization
A Critical Review of the Evidence of Archaeology, Anthropology, History and Comparative Religion: According to the Most Reliable Sources and Authorities
By John G. Jackson (1939)
“It is pretty well settled that the city is the Negro’s great contribution to civilization, for it was in Africa where the first cities grew up.” E. Haldeman-Julius
“Those piles of ruins which you see in that narrow valley watered by the Nile, are the remains of opulent cities, the pride of the ancient kingdom of Ethiopia. â€¦ There a people, now forgotten, discovered while others were yet barbarians, the elements of the arts and sciences. A race of men now rejected from society for their sable skin and frizzled hair, founded on the study of the laws of nature, those civil and religious systems which still govern the universe.” Count Volney
“The accident of the predominance of white men in modern times should not give us supercilious ideas about color or persuade us to listen to superficial theories about the innate superiority of the white-skinned man. Four thousand years ago, when civilization was already one or two thousand years old, white men were just a bunch of semi-savages on the outskirts of the civilized world. If there had been anthropologists in Crete, Egypt, and Babylonia, they would have pronounced the white race obviously inferior, and might have discoursed learnedly on the superior germ-plasm or glands of colored folk.” Joseph McCabe
The late Professor George A. Dorsey noted that “H. G. Wells’ heart beats faster in nearly every chapter of his Outline of History, because he cannot forget that he is Nordic, Aryan, English British, white, civilized.” (Why We Behave Like Human Beings, p. 40.) This patriotic zeal of Mr. Wells’ has, in truth, caused him to suppress certain facts that do not fit into his pet theories.
In the latest edition of his Outline of History, Mr. Wells ends his chapter on The Early Empires with the following remarks: “No less an authority than Sir Flinders Petrie gives countenance to the idea that there was some very early connection between Colchis (the country to the south of the Caucasus) and prehistoric Egypt. Herodotus remarked upon a series of resemblances between the Colchians and the Egyptians.” (Wells’ New and Revised Outline of History, p. 184, Garden City, 1931.)
It would have been proper for Wells to have quoted the remarks of Herodotus, so as to give us precise information on the series of resemblances between the Cholchians and the Egyptians. Why he did not do so we shall now see. In Book II, Section-104, of his celebrated History, Herodotus states: “For my part I believe the Colchi to be a colony of Egyptians, because like them they have black skins and frizzled hair.” (See any English translation of The History of Herodotus. The translation by Professor George Rawlinson is the best. See also W.E.B. DuBois, The Negro, p. 31, and Count Volney’s Travels in Egypt and Syria, Vol. I. pp. 80â€“81.) After discussing the civilizations of Egypt, Babylonia and India, Wells had already referred to them as a “triple system of white man civilizations.” (Outline of History, Chap. XIII, Sect. 5, p. 175) On concluding that the civilization of Egypt was a white man civilization, he naturally would be careful not to quote the above passage from Herodotus.
Most history texts, especially the ones on ancient history, start off by telling us that there are either three, four or five races of man, but that of those races only one has been responsible for civilization, culture, progress and all other good things. The one race is of course the white race, and particularly that branch of said race known as the Nordic or Aryan. The reason for this is obvious; the writers of these textbooks are as a rule Nordics, or so consider themselves. However, prejudice alone will not account for this sort of thing. There is a confusion among historians and anthropologists concerning the proper classification of races, and this confusion is used by biased writers to bolster up their preconceptions. It is therefore necessary that we discuss the subject of race classification in a rational manner before proceeding further.
The early scientific classifications of the varieties of the human species were geographical in nature. The celebrated naturalist, Linneaus (1708â€“1778), for instance, listed four races, according to continent, namely: (1) European (white), (2) African (black), (3) Asiatic (yellow), and (4) American (red). Blumenback, in 1775, added a fifth type, the Ocieanic or brown race. This classification is still used in some grammar school Geographies, where the races of man are tabulated as: Ethiopian (black), Caucasian (white), American (red), Mongolian (yellow) and Malayan (brown).
During the year 1800, the French naturalist, Cuvier, announced the hypothesis that all ethnic types were traceable to Ham, Chem and Japhet, the three sons of Noah. After that date race classification developed into an amazing contest; a struggle which still rages. By 1873, Haeckel had found no less than twelve distinct races of mankind; and to show the indefatigable nature of his researches, he annexed twenty-two more races a few years later, bringing the grand total of human types up to thirty-four. Deniker, in 1900, presented to the world a very imposing system of race classification. He conceived of the human species existing in the form of six grand divisions, seventeen divisions and twenty-nine races. And despite all this industry among anthropologists, ethnologists and the like, there is yet no agreement on the classification of races. Where one anthropologist finds three racial types, another can spot thirty-three without the least difficulty.
The Classifiers of race, however, regardless of how abundantly they disagreed with each other as to the correct groupings of human types, were of unanimous accord in the belief that the white peoples of the world were far superior to the darker races. This opinion in still very popular, but modern science is making it hard for intelligent people to accept the fallacy. Many years ago the German philosopher, Schopenhauer, remarked that, “there is no such thing as a white race, much as this is talked of, but every white man is a faded or bleached one.” Schopenhauer possessed keen and sagacious foresight on this point. For example, the English scholar, Joseph McCabe, expresses the following view as the consensus of opinion among modern anthropologists: “There is strong reason to think that man was at first very dark of skin, woolly-haired and flat-nosed, and, as he wandered into different climates, the branches of the race diverged and developed their characteristics.” (Key to Culture, No. 11, p. 10.)
Professor Franz Boas, the nestor of American anthropologists, has divided the whole human race into only two divisions. This classification of Boas’ is admirably explained by Professor George A. Dorsey:
Open your atlas to a map of the world. Look at the Indian Ocean: on the west, Africa; on the north, the three great southern peninsulas of Asia: on the east, a chain of great islands terminating in Australia. Wherever that Indian Ocean touches land, it finds dark-skinned people with strongly developed jaws, relatively long arms and kinky or frizzly hair. Call that the Indian Ocean or Negroid division of the human race.
Now look at the Pacific Ocean: on one side, the two Americas; on the other, Asia. (Geographically, Europe is a tail to the Asiatic kite.) The aboriginal population of the Americas and of Asia north of its southern peninsula was a light-skinned people with straight hair, relatively short arms, and a face without prominent jaws. Call that the Pacific Ocean or Mongoloid division. (Why We Behave Like Human Beings, pp. 44â€“45.)
Professors A. L. Kroeber and Fay-Cooper Cole are of the opinion that the peoples of Europe have (been) bleached out enough to merit classification as a distinct race. This would add a European or Caucasoid division to the Negroid and Mongoloid races of the classification proposed by Professor Boas. If we accept this three-fold division of the human species, our classification ought to read as follows: the races of man are three in number; (1) the Negroid, or Ethiopian or black race; (2) the Mongoloid, or Mongolian or yellow race; and (3) the Caucasoid or European or white race. This is the very latest scheme of race classification.
Now that we have straightened out ourselves on the issue of the classification of races, we may property turn to the main subject matter of this essay, i.e., the ancient Ethiopians and their widespread influence on the early history of civilization. In discussing the origin of civilization in the ancient Near East, Professor Charles Seignobos in his History of Ancient Civilization, notes that the first civilized inhabitants of the Nile and Tigris-Euphrates valleys, were a dark-skinned people with short hair and prominent lips; and that they are referred to by some scholars as Cushites (Ethiopians), and as Hamites by others.
This ancient civilization of the Cushites, out of which the earliest cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia grew, was not confined to the Near East. Traces of it have been found all over the world. Dr. W. J. Perry refers to it as the Archaic Civilization. Sir Grafton Elliot Smith terms it the Neolithic Heliolithic Culture of the Brunet-Browns. Mr. Wells alludes to this early civilization in his Outline of History, and dates its beginnings as far back as 15,000 years B.C. “This peculiar development of the Neolithic culture,” says Mr. Wells, “which Elliot Smith called the Heliolithic (sun-stone) culture, included many or all of the following odd practices: (1) Circumcision, (2) the queer custom of sending the father to bed when a child is born, known as Couvade, (3) the practice of Massage, (4) the making of Mummies, (5) Megalithic monuments (i.e. Stonehenge), (6) artificial deformation of the heads of the young by bandages, (7) Tattooing, (8) religious association of the Sun and the Serpent, and (9) the use of the symbol known as the Swastika for good luck. â€¦ Elliot Smith traces these associated practices in a sort of constellation all over this great Mediterranean / Indian Ocean-Pacific area. Where one occurs, most of the others occur. They link Brittany with Borneo and Peru. But this constellation of practices does not crop up in the primitive home of Nordic or Mongolian peoples, nor does it extend southward much beyond equatorial Africa. â€¦ The first civilizations in Egypt and the Euphrates-Tigris valley probably developed directly out of this widespread culture.” (Outline of History, pp. 141â€“143).
This ancient civilization is called NEOLITHIC by Wells. This is a mistake; for we have overwhelming evidence that these ancient peoples had long passed out of the New Stone Age stage of culture, and were erecting edifices which could only have been constructed by means of hard metal tools. Iron is the very backbone of civilization, and the Iron Age began very anciently in Africa. The researches of scholars like Boas, Torday and DuBois would lead us to believe that the art of mining iron was first developed in the interior of Africa, and that the knowledge of it passed through Egypt to the rest of the world. (See W.E.B. DuBois, The Negro, pp. 114â€“116, Home University Library, New York and London, 1915.)
In modern geography the name Ethiopia is confined to the country known as Abyssinia, an extensive territory in East Africa. In ancient times Ethiopia extended over vast domains in both Africa and Asia. “It seems certain,” declares Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, “that classical historians and geographers called the whole region from India to Egypt, both countries inclusive, by the name of Ethiopia, and in consequence they regarded all the dark-skinned and black peoples who inhabited it as Ethiopians. Mention is made of Eastern and Western Ethiopians and it is probable that the Easterners were Asiatics and the Westerners Africans.” (History of Ethiopia, Vol. I., Preface, by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge.) In addition Budge notes that, “Homer and Herodotus call all the peoples of the Sudan, Egypt, Arabia, Palestine and Western Asia and India Ethiopians.” (Ibid., p. 2.)
Herodotus wrote in his celebrated History that both the Western Ethiopians, who lived in Africa, and the Eastern Ethiopians who dwelled in India, were black in complexion, but that the Africans had curly hair, while the Indians were straight-haired. (The aboriginal black inhabitants of India are generally referred to as the Dravidians, of whom more will be said as we proceed.)
Another classical historian who wrote about the Ethiopians was Strabo, from whom we quote the following: “I assert that the ancient Greeks, in the same way as they classed all the northern nations with which they were familiar as Scythians, etc., so, I affirm, they designated as Ethiopia the whole of the southern countries toward the ocean.” Strabo adds that “if the moderns have confined the appellation Ethiopians to those only who dwell near Egypt, this must not be allowed to interfere with the meaning of the ancients.” Ephorus says that: “The Ethiopians were considered as occupying all the south coasts of both Asia and Africa,” and adds that “this is an ancient opinion of the of the Greeks.” Then we have the view of Stephanus of Byzantium, that: “Ethiopia was the first established country on earth; and the Ethiopians were the first who introduced the worship of the gods, and who established laws.” The vestiges of this early civilization have been found in Nubia, the Egyptian Sudan, West Africa, Egypt, Mashonaland, India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Arabia, South America, Central America, Mexico, and the United States.
Any student who doubts this will find ample evidence in such works as The Voice of Africa, by Dr. Leo Froebenius; Prehistoric Nations, and Ancient America, by John D. Baldwin; Rivers of Life, by Major-General J. G. R. Forlong; A Book of the Beginnings by Gerald Massey; Children of the Sun and The Growth of Civilization, by W. J. Perry; The Negro by Professor W.E.B. DuBois; The Anacalypsis, by Sir Godfrey Higgins; Isis Unveiled by Madam H. P. Blavatsky; The Diffusion of Culture, by Sir Grafton Elliot Smith; The Mediterranean Race, by Professor Sergi; The Ruins of Empires, by Count Volney; The Races of Europe, by Professor William Z. Ripley; and last but not least, the brilliant monographs of Mr. Maynard Shipley: New Light on Prehistoric Cultures and Americans of a Million Years Age. (See also Shipley’s Sex and the Garden of Eden Myth, a collection of essays, the best of the lot being one entitled: Christian Doctrines In Pre-Christian America.) These productions of Mr. Shipley, have been issued in pamphlet form in the Little Blue Book Series, published by Mr. E. Haldeman-Julius, of Girard, Kansas.
The efforts of certain historians to classify these ancient Cushites as Caucasoids does not deceive honest historical students any longer. This may well be illustrated by a passage from the pen of our scholarly friend Bishop William Montgomery Brown: “For the first two or three thousand years of civilization, there was not a civilized white man on the earth. Civilization was founded and developed by the swarthy races of Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt, and the white race remained so barbaric that in those days an Egyptian or a Babylonian priest would have said that the riffraff of white tribes a few hundred miles to the north of their civilization were hopelessly incapable of acquiring the knowledge requisite to progress. It was southern colored peoples everywhere, in China, in Central America, in India, Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and Crete who gave the northern white peoples civilization.” (The Bankruptcy of Christian Supernaturalism, Vol., p. 192.)
Quite a few Egyptologists have defended the idea that the ancient Egyptians originally came from Asia. There never was any evidence to back up this view; and the only reason it was adopted, was because it was fashionable to believe that no African people was capable of developing a great civilization. Geoffrey Parsons refers to Egyptian civilization in his Stream of History, p. 154, New York & London, 1932, as “genuinely African in its origin and development.” Herodotus came to the same conclusion over 2,000 years ago, but he is not taken seriously by the majority of modern historians, except where his facts agree with certain theories of said historians. Theories are more precious to some scholars than facts, even when the facts flatly contradict their theories.
Dr. Froebenious, the great German anthropologist, has examined the ruins of ancient cultures in southern, eastern and western Africa, of an antiquity rivaling those of Egypt and Sumer. Sir John Marshall and Dr. E. Mackay have uncovered the remains of a great Dravidian civilization in India, which rose to its peak over 5,000 years ago. The newspaper generally report these discoveries as startling and unexpected. They tell us that nobody ever dreamed that these ancient nations ever existed. This novelty, however, does not exist for real students. Anyone familiar with the works of G. Elliot Smith, W. J. Perry, Sir Godfrey Higgins, Dr. H.R. Hall, Sir Henry Rawlinson, John D. Baldwin, Gerald Massey and General Forlong, will not be surprised at the very novel archaeological discoveries announced by the press. Since we are dealing with historical sources and authorities, a study of the researches of Sir Henry Rawlinson, the Father of Assyriology, on the Ethiopians in the ancient East, is in order. The following extract is condensed from an essay entitled: On the Early History of Babylonia:
The system of writing which they brought with them has the closest affinity with that of Egyptâ€”in many cases indeed, there is an absolute identity between the two alphabets.
In the Biblical genealogies, Cush (Ethiopia) and Mizraim (Egypt) are brothers, while from the former sprang Nimrod (Babylonia.)Â Â In regard to the language of the primitive Babylonians, the vocabulary is undoubtedly Cushite or Ethiopian, belonging to that stock of tongues which in the sequel were everywhere more or less mixed up with the Semitic languages, but of which we have probably the purest modern specimens in the Mahra of Southern Arabia and the Galla of Abyssinia.
All the traditions of Babylonia and Assyria point to a connection in very early times between Ethiopia, Southern Arabia and the cities on the lower Euphrates.
In further proof of the connection between Ethiopia and Chaldea, we must remember the Greek tradition both of Cepheus and Memnon, which sometimes applied to Africa, and sometimes to the countries at the mouth of the Euphrates; and we must also consider the geographical names of Cush and Phut, which, although of African origin, are applied to races bordering on Chaldea, both in the Bible and in the Inscriptions of Darius. (Essay-VI, Appendix, Book-I, History of Herodotus, translated by Professor George Rawlinson, with essays and notes by Sir Henry Rawlinson and Sir J. G. Wilkinson.)
The opinions of Sir Henry Rawlinson are reinforced by the researches of his equally distinguished brother, Professor George Rawlinson, in his essay On the Ethnic Affinities of the Races of Western Asia, which directs our attention to: “the uniform voice of primitive antiquity, which spoke of the Ethiopians as a single race, dwelling along the shores of the Southern Ocean from India to the Pillars of Hercules.” (Herodotus, Vol. I., Book. I., Appendix, Essay XI., Section-5.)
Rawlinson adds an explanatory note to this section of his essay, which we here reproduce: “Recent linguistic discovery tends to show that a Cushite or Ethiopian race did in the earliest times extend itself along the shores of the Southern Ocean from Abyssinia to India. The whole peninsula of India was peopled by a race of their character before the influx of the Aryans; it extended from the Indus along the seacoast through the modern Beluchistan and Kerman, which was the proper country of the Asiatic Ethiopians; the cities on the northern shores of the Persian Gulf are shown by the brick inscriptions found among their ruins to have belonged to this race; it was dominant in Susiana and Babylonia, until overpowered in the one country by Aryan, in the other by Semitic intrusion; it can be traced both by dialect and tradition throughout the whole south coast of the Arabian peninsula.”
To Be Continued…..
28 thoughts on “Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization (Pt 1): By John G. Jackson (1939)”
Interesting article, but there some things that really struck me that i did not agree with
This article was very interesting and not that suprising to me. It wasn’t that long ago that segregation existed in this country. Many people still think of blacks as being inferior and for them to accept that Africans are responsible for building some of first cities is not possible. Sure, this country has come a long way from the days of segregation but still a lot of changes have to made. And, more importantly we cannot rely on what historians have told us as being the absolute truth.
the bible state clearly that it was only Noa and the sons remained after the floods…if u clearly follow the story of Noa u’lll come to the conclution that Afica and black man were never products of the Noas’…a black man is the original creation of God…
There are several important facts to analyse in this article. I feel that it is particularly important that several attempts have been made to distinguish between people by the researches, but there are still contradictions. These philosophers create these ideas and if people aren’t going back to research these ideologies, our future will never get the full story.
The classifications of race are problematic, as there are not genetic factors determinant of race. Professor Franz Boas classication, very manichean in nature, that there exist only two races is most socially accurate, at least in the context of America from the fifteenth to early twentieth centuries.
i was born in Madagascar in 1932 ;
I asked my father why there was a difference in races existing there; for exemple the Hovas with their Asiatic types, the Betsimikarakas with their dark African looks , the Indous with their many variations in colour and ourselves Europeans going from swarthy to fair and my father who was wise told me and this is an answer to a child’s question, it is not a very cultured answer but a childish one yet it gave me an open mind and a lack of racism that i enjoy today as an older person; i have grandchildren who vary from dark swarthy to reds and blonds
What my dad told me was that “race was a matter of latitude” if you are born near the equator,the tropics you will need melanine to protect yourself from the sun so that your skin will be dark opposed to the people born many centuries ago in cold climes will be fair because they have no need for dark complexions because of the lack of sunshine ; should that make a difference in our intelligence and our capabilities?
Great civilisations were born around the the Mediterrannean sea and the middle east , older than our own European civilisations so that it does make sense
I will not look down on someone who is darker than i because i am fair
@Colette well your father was wrong. if you have a lack of sun and you are white how can you absorb vitamin d if your skin reflects the light? white is a birth defect and being white does not help you to be better adapted to your environment. Why are Eskimos dark if your fathers logic was correct?
I love this entire site! Informative and educational!! thank you for your efforts
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