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Is Studying Ancient Egypt in Its African Context Afrocentric? sample essay

Studying Ancient Egypt is African context can be definitively distinguished as Afrocentric. Evidence of this is given from Ancient Egypt’s geographical location, the Ancient Egyptian culture, and linguistics.

What is currently known as afrocentrism is a cultural ideology first formed from the work of late nineteenth century and early twentieth century African-American intellectuals. Afrocentrism manifested into its current form because of the African-American intellectuals during the Civil Rights Movement and African-American Studies departments in black colleges and universities across the nation. Afrocentricity deals with asserting African culture and the contributions of Africans, especially in the Western world. Egypt, being a part of Africa, is well within the grounds of being a part of Afrocentricity. Ancient Egypt was a very profound society with cutting edge technological advances in its time. Its cultural influences have left a mark on today’s society. Because of this, Europeans have “adopted” the Ancient Egyptians and tried to make them seem dissonant from the rest of the African continent. They have done this through history rewriting and media making the African-American community believe that Ancient Egypt was never a factor in the growth of Africa.

For this response, I will be using two articles provided to me by Dr. Woods and the third source I used was from Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, one of the founders of the idea of Afrocentrisim. The first article I chose to discuss is called “Is Studying Ancient Egypt in its African context ‘Afrocentric’?” by S.O.Y. Keita. In this article, he thoroughly answers this question by addressing points that indefinitely proves that Ancient Egypt should be considered in its African context. The second article I used is called “Egypt, Africa and the Ancient World” by Joesp Cervello Autuori where he compares Egypt to Africa more in depth. This article was very useful and helped me gain a more broad aspect of how Ancient Egypt related to the rest of Africa. The third source I used was an internet website that contained an overview of the definition of Afrocentrisim. This was very reliable in the aspect that Dr. Molefi Kete Asante was one of the founders of the idea of Afrocentrisim. It was very enlightening provided a historical context.

Physically and culturally Ancient Egypt is a large part of Africa. Many scholars indicate that “…Egyptian prehistory are agreed on two basic principles: the African geological context, according to which the Egyptian Epipaleolithic and Neolithic cultures are included in a wide Saharan Nile context; and the continuity of time” (Autuori 113). Ancient Egypt was forged on the Nile River, a main geographical landmark in Africa. Although Ancient Egypt may be close to Asia, it is a part of the African continent. The southern and western parts of Egypt are bordered by African landmass. The Mediterranean Sea and he Sinai Peninsula separate Egypt from Asia and Europe.

Africa’s flora and fauna were used in symbol systems in early Egyptian culture. Animals native to Africa were used in early hieroglyphics and iconographies. This makes it evident that there is a definite link between Egypt and its African posterity. “[Late prehistoric Egypt]…the essentially African nature of many of the central features of Pharaonic civilization…it also explains the innumerable cultural parallels between ancient Egypt and both the ancient Saharan and modern black African civilizations” (133). The geographic location and the cultural root defined by its symbol system and iconographies “…suggests that the people were indigenous, or at least that the culture developed locally and was not an import” (Keita 125).

When examining the linguistics of a language it is believed that similar languages come from a single parent language. Over time this parent language changes due to the spreading out of its speakers. When putting back together the parent language a timeline of the language family can be found. This timeline helps to identify a culture and possibly the environment of early speakers of that language. The language that was used in Ancient Egypt belongs to the Afro-Asiatic family and the members of that family are generally found in Africa. The plants and wildlife shown in early hieroglyphics were displays of the natural environment of the African continent. The Afro-Asiatic family also originated in Africa. It was not brought to Africa from another continent. “The language was not imported from Asia or Europe. The plants and animals in the early hieroglyphs come from the local environment” (Keita 126).

In conclusion, there are many ways that Ancient Egypt has influenced African and African-American culture today. “It is not a question of ‘African’ ‘influence’; ancient Egypt was originally African. Studying early Egypt in its African context is not ‘Afrocentric’ but simply correct” (Keita 130)

Works Cited
Asante, Dr. Molefi Kete. “Afrocentricity | Dr. Molefi Kete Asante.” Dr. Molefi Kete Asante. http://www.asante.net/articles/1/afrocentricity/ (accessed February 21, 2013). Autuori, Josep. “Egypt, Africa and the Ancient World.” History of Africa and the Diaspora ? (0): 131-137. Keita, S.O.Y.. “Is Studying Egypt in Its African Context “Afrocentric”.” History of Africa and the Diaspora ? (0): 124-130.

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