Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization Volume II: The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence (Volume 2) by Martin Bernal
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Winner of the 1990 American Book Award
What is classical about Classical civilization? In one of the most audacious works of scholarship ever written, Martin Bernal challenges the foundation of our thinking about this question. Classical civilization, he argues, has deep roots in Afroasiatic cultures. But these Afroasiatic influences have been systematically ignored, denied or suppressed since the eighteenth century—chiefly for racist reasons.
The popular view is that Greek civilization was the result of the conquest of a sophisticated but weak native population by vigorous Indo-European speakers—Aryans—from the North. But the Classical Greeks, Bernal argues, knew nothing of this “Aryan model.” They did not see their institutions as original, but as derived from the East and from Egypt in particular.
In an unprecedented tour de force, Bernal links a wide range of areas and disciplines—drama, poetry, myth, theological controversy, esoteric religion, philosophy, biography, language, historical narrative, and the emergence of “modern scholarship.”
This volume is the second in a three-part series concerned with the competition between two historical models for the origins of Greek civilization. Volume II is concerned with the archaeological and documentary evidence for contacts between Egypt and the Levant on the one hand, and the Aegean on the other, during the Bronze Age from c. 34000 BC to c. 1100 BC. These approaches are supplemented by information from later Greek myths, legends, religious cults, and language. The author concludes that contact between the two regions was far more extensive and influential than is generally believed. In the introduction to this volume, Bernal also responds to some reviews and criticism of Volume I of Black Athena.