Does the Chinese civilization come from ancient Egypt

Since we are still in Egypt, I think these articles make for good reading.

And while you are on it, is the label Sub- Saharan Africa loaded?

In the next post, I will share some of the customs and traditions of my ancestors before the coming of the colonialist. Stay tuned.

Good morning and a great week.


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

16 thoughts on “Does the Chinese civilization come from ancient Egypt

  1. You’re on a very archaeological bent today, friend. The Chinese articles were long but interesting. A fascinating theory. Of course, ancient Egyptian civilisation was very advanced and sophisticated. Unlike current western society.

    I would say it is loaded and agree with that article. But it’s somewhat like people referring to Africa as a country rather than a continent. SSA is not a term I’ve used because I wouldn’t know which countries it included. Much easier to name the countries or do what the article suggests, east north etc.

    When I was on my first newspaper we had a lot of Pakistani and Indian communities. So we had to decide on a term to describe both without being specific. So we would say people from the Indian sub-continent, or just Asian (which is a bit too broad). Back then, they were first generation immigrants and there was a clear divide between communities. Mind you, there still is. Probably worse now.

    Labels are always tough, and often a product of laziness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. nannus says:

    The Chinese civilization definitely does not come from Egypt. There is a good archaeological record of both and they are completely independent. There is an influence of Egypt on other cultures around the Mediterranean, e.g. on Greece.

    However, certain crops first domesticated in Africa (but not in Egypt) spread through Asia. One of them is Sorghum, a crop first domesticated in what is called Sudanic agriculture, i.e. the agriculture independently invented by Nilo-Saharans. Another example is water mellons which probably where first domesticated by Nilo-Saharans and then spread to Egypt and from there into Asia. The same is probably true for gourds. It should be noted that these domestications of plants took place before the Egyptian civilization started. The civilizations of the Nile valley (Egypt and the Nilo-Saharan civilizations south of it (Ta-Seti, Kerma, Meroe) where triggered by the drying out of the Sahara. Agriculture was present for a long time already in the Sahara. In the south, people used the crops domesticated by the Nilo-Saharans, in the north, the crops where middle-eastern. So in the history of Africa, Egypt comes in relatively late.

    There is an influence from Indonesia on East Africa. Indonesians developed ships that allowed them to cross the Indian Ocean. They settled on Madagascar (where the dominant language is closely related to Indonesian languages) and had a strong influence on the East African coast. Crops introduced by them include all species of Bananas and Plantains grown in Africa, which did not exist there before. They also introduced the chicken to Africa which then in many areas replaced the Guinea Fowl (which had been domesticated in West-Africa by people speaking Niger-Congo languages. There might have been influences back to Indonesia from Africa at this time. There is a theory that xylophones where first introduced into Africa by the Indonesians, but I don’t know how good the evidence is on this. Chineese also reached the East African coast during the Ming-Dynasty.

    The main cultural influences present in East Africa before the arrival of the Indonesians, the Arabians and the Europeans, were mainly: Hunter- gatherers (maybe Khoi-San), Kushitic peoples, Kushitic farmers and herders (a sub-section of the Afroasiatic language family who, according to linguistic evidence and unique crops, had invented agricultur independently and who came from the North-East, Nilo-Saharan groups (farmers, herders and fishing peoples, the Nilo-Saharans also invented agriculture indepenently) who came from the North-West, and Niger-Congo (Bantu) farmers (another independent invention of Agriculture) who arrieved from the West. In Kenya, all four influences are present. The Egyptians play no role here. Metal technology entered the area from Central or West Africa.

    I recomend the book “The Civilizations of Africa” by Christopher Ehret. The disadvantage of the book is that it does not contain a bibliography, but I think as an introductory text, it is excellent ( I think you can get that as an E-Book as well. Ehret pioneered the use of linguistic evidence for the reconstruction of African history. For example, the terms for tools and activities used for agriculture in Kushitic languages, Omotic languages (also Afro-Asiatic), Nilo-Saharan languages and Niger-Congo-languages are different and can be traced to certain older ancestral languages. From this, it is possible to conclude that agriculture was actually invented independently by these groups. Some of Ehrets results are debated, but overall I think that book is excellent.

    Diop, on the other hand, is absolutely outdated. His theories where highly speculative and many of his views are untenable. Hi pioneered trying to look at African history in a new way, but he could only start from the methodological base of his time and based on the sparse results available at the time.

    One thing I like about Ehret’s book is that he does not care about black or white. He is describing all the cultures of Africa simply as African, without talking anywhere about whether people where black or not. For Diop, on the other hand, as for all anthropologists of his time, the notion of race is important. Into the 1970s, anthropology was racist and you can see this in Diop’s work as well, he is just switching the values asigned to the colours. In my view, the question if Egyptians where black or not is simply irrelevant.

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      This is very detailed response. I haven’t read anything on the Chinese civilization. Thought the link would be a good conversation starter.
      I will see if I can find a copy of the book you have mentioned here.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. nannus says:

    About “Sub-Saharan Africa”: The question is: why is such a term required? The areas north of the Sahara have long had an intense connection with the Middle East and Europe. The islands in the Mediterranean have been settled at least in neolithic times, so for thousands of years people had ships that enabled them to cross the sea. And at the Sinai, there is a land bridge to Asia. So there are considerable influences in northern Africa in both direction and these date back many thousands of years.
    However, other parts of Africa are also culturally distinct and have received lots of outside influences. East Africa has its distinct Kushitic and Nilo-Saharan cultures and diverse influences from across the Indian Ocean, but we do not single it out the way we single out North Africa. There is an Indonesian influence here, the Arabian influence here is stronger and older than it is in North Africa and predates Islam. Islam is as present here as it is in the North.

    Other areas could also be distinguished culturally. So indeed the question is: why is a term like “Sub-Saharan Africa” used. There is an older term “Black Africa” that is no longer used (I think) by scholars but still used a lot by journalists and the general public. This term is obviously race-based. So Europeans distinguished those parts of Africa inhabited mostly by what they classified as “black” people from those areas whose people they classified as non-“black”.

    I guess the term “Sub-Saharan” is an attempt to replace the race-based concept of “Black Africa” with a geographical concept. Culturally, it does not make much sense. The borders of groups that belong together historically, linguistically and culturally do not really match this distinction. For the more recent history of Africa (the last couple of thousand years until the beginning of Europe’s expansion) the term might make some sense since the Sahara reduced contacts between north and south considerably. But now, the contact is there, so what is the use of this concept.

    It might be a loaded term in some uses (depending on who is using it and whith what intention) and in any case it is a dubious concept.


  4. I think this might interest you:
    Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color
    Nina G. Jablonski

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Fascinating articles.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Sub-Saharan Africa” might be a loaded term today, but the anthropological implications of that vast geologic barrier (i.e. the Sahara Desert) are evidenced by our history.


  7. Ubi Dubium says:

    I think the term Sub-Saharan Africa can be useful, if we are careful how we use it. If we mean “A geographic area of many culturally and linguistically diverse groups who share a history of outside interference from European colonialism” then I’m OK with it. But if anybody is trying to use the term to lump people under any kind of stereotype, then no.

    And I found the article on China interesting, but I noticed a focus on the political issues, on the difficulty of sorting out what people want the answer to be from what the answer actually is. I’ve always understood that civilization developed independently on the Nile, in Mesopotamia, on the Indus River, in China, in Mesoamerica, and perhaps some other locations as well. Considering that people were engaging in trade back then, it’s not impossible that some technology was cross-pollinated, but the cultures and religions and languages of China and Egypt were so different, it seems pretty far-fetched to think that the Chinese civilization came from Egypt.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] A few weeks back we had a discussion on appropriateness of the label Sub Saharan Africa.  […]


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