7 Persistent Myths About Ancient Egypt You Will Never Look at The Same Again

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Source: http://atlantablackstar.com

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Cleopatra Was Egyptian 

Cleopatra VII Philopator (69 B.C. – Aug. 12, 30 B.C.) is likely the most well-known of all the ancient Egyptian queens. What many people do not know is that Cleopatra was more than likely not ethnically Egyptian.

Born during the Greek occupation of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra actually descended from a long line of Greek Macedonians who descended from Ptolemy I, one of Alexander the Great’s most trusted lieutenants. The Ptolemaic Dynasty ruled Egypt from 323 to 30 B.C., and for the most part, maintained their Greek heritage.

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The name Cleopatra was given to a number of the female members of the family. Her mother bore the same name, as well as an older sister, which is why the famous queen is actually known as Cleopatra the seventh. She reportedly was the first member of her family who learned to speak the Egyptian language.

Debates about her ethnicity rage on, but coins minted during her lifetime are likely the most accurate depiction of the monarch.

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Slaves Built The Pyramids

The idea that slaves built the pyramids of Egypt has been circulating ever since the Greek historian Herodotus reported it in the fifth century B.C.

However, most historians now dismiss the story as false.

The builders of the pyramids were highly skilled Egyptian craftsmen, not slaves as Hollywood or some Bible interpretations portray.

According to a 2010 Discovery.com article, tombs containing the remains of the builders were found next to the pyramids at Giza. Egypt’s archaeology chief Zahi Hawass said the builders were respected for their work, so much so, that those who died during construction were bestowed the honor of burial in the tombs next to the sacred pyramids of the pharaohs.

In addition, Egyptologists found evidence at Giza indicating that the pyramid builders ate beef, a delicacy in ancient Egypt.

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Enslavement of The Israelites

While on the topic of the Hollywood film industry’s portrayal of the use of slave labor in ancient Egyptian pyramid building, it’s also appropriate to dispel the myth that Israelites were the slaves used. Not only were slaves not used to build pyramids, but there is no historic evidence at all suggesting Israelites were enslaved in ancient Egypt.

The reason why so much is known about the ancient Egyptians is because they kept thorough records. However, none of these records mention keeping a race of slaves, millions of Hebrews inhabiting or escaping Egypt, 10 plagues or the parting of the Red Sea.

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Modern Egyptians Are The Same Egyptians From Antiquity

A number of Egyptologists and other laymen argue that Egyptian civilization could not have been built by Black people because the modern Egyptians are the same people who populated the ancient kingdom, and they aren’t Black.

However, the modern population of Egypt reflects the aftermath of many, many occupations, migrations and conquests, including the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Turks, French and British.

The Middle Eastern Arabs who dominate the population now did not show up in any real numbers prior to the seventh century A.D. Descendants of the original Egyptian people do, however, still live among the modern population.

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Ancient Egypt Was Racially Mixed
A number of Egyptologists or laymen who found the European or Asiatic origin of ancient Egypt hard to defend have resorted to labeling it a racially diverse society.

The mixed-race theory has been challenged by renowned Egyptologist Cheikh Anta Diop and other contemporary scholars who argue that for African people,  a “true Negro” is typically identified as narrowly as possible, while “true white” is allowed a much broader definition. This method downplays the normal geographic variation and genetic diversity found in many human populations and has distorted a true picture of the wide range of African phenotypes.

Numerous archeological and genetic studies have shown that the ancient Egyptians cluster closer to Nubians and other neighboring Black ethnic groups than they do to Caucasians.

Egyptians didn’t become mixed racially until their civilization was declining and other Asiatic groups invaded the kingdom. Research has shown that Egyptian skulls show little change between the beginning of Egyptian civilization (3100 B.C.) and the Middle Kingdom (2080-1640 B.C.), but do change significantly during the New Kingdom (1550-1069 B.C.). Other scientific studies report that a set of skulls from very late in Egyptian history is significantly different from earlier Egyptian skulls.

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Ancient Egyptian Culture Has Its Roots in Eurasian Culture

As stated before, the ancient Egyptians were not Europeans or Asians, but largely indigenous Africans, both biologically and culturally. Ancient accounts and recent research have shown that culture and civilization spread into Egypt from the south, especially from Nubia.

Archaeological findings in Nubia that predate the start of the Egyptian empire display aspects similar to Egyptian culture.  For instance, an incense burner was found depicting the earliest known representation of a king in the Nile Valley. The unknown king is believed to have lived in Nubia, approximately three generations before the time of Menes, the earliest-known Egyptian ruler.

This is not to say that there was no cultural or genetic influence from Asia, but any such influence was not sufficient to dilute the fundamentally African cultural identity of ancient Egypt.

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Napoleon and His Troops Shot Off the Nose of the Sphinx For Target Practice

Although popular legend blames Napoleon and his troops during the French campaign in Egypt (1798-1801) for shooting the nose off the Great Sphinx, the story is false. The myth dates back at least to the beginning of the 20th century.

European visitors to Egypt prior to Napoleon’s expedition had already discovered the vandalism to the Sphinx. Sketches of the Sphinx by the Dane Frederic Louis Norden, made in 1738 and published in 1757, show the Sphinx was missing its nose. This predates Napoleon’s birth in 1769.

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