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The Origins of Agriculture in Africa.

It is impossible in a relatively short space, to cover the vast and controversial prehistory of
humanity since its origins in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago. Therefore this article
will start with the beginnings of agriculture there within the past 20,000 years. Experts agree
that agriculture, the cultivation of crops and the domestication of animals, began
independently in many different places. There were two major centers or "hearths" in
America, one in Southeast Asia, and others. Two important hearths were in Africa. The first of
these was in the savanna south of the Sahara, where a number of different sorghums and
millets were domesticated. Specimens of these have been found dating to around 7000 B.C.E.
and domestication may well have begun earlier(Wendorf et al. 1992).

The other acknowledged African hearth is Ethiopia. There other sorghums as well as grains
such as teff and noog still grown there, were first cultivated. Most scholars maintain that
nontropical crops like wheat, barley and chickpeas were first domesticated in Southwest Asia
around 9000 B.C.E. and spread from there to Egypt and the rest of north Africa some twenty-
five hundred years later. However, two new discoveries have led a number of specialists to
reconsider this hypothesis. The first of these is that during the late Ice Age, between 14,000
and 12,000 years before the present, when the climate of southern Egypt was similar to that
we now call "Mediterranean," there was a sharp increase in the amount of barley and other
grains being harvested and consumed. This does not necessarily mean that they were also
being planted but it seems very likely(Hassan 1980, pp.437-438). The second discovery is that
of the extraordinary variety of types of barley found in Ethiopia, indicating that it has been
cultivated there for an extremely long time.

The two new pieces of evidence suggest three possibilities: 1) that barley (and wheat) was
domesticated independently in Ethiopia and Syria; 2) that the cultivation began in Ethiopia and
diffused to Southwest Asia; the third and most likely scenario, that toward the end of the Ice
Age, inhabitants of the Nile Valley were in fact cultivating barley and other nontropical grains
above the first cataract--cataracts are series of rapids and waterfalls that are impossible to
traverse by boat. As the climate became hotter and wetter--even more so than it is today--this
cultivation moved north along the Nile to Southwest Asia and up the mountains into Ethiopia
(Doggett, 1989.p.33). After two thousand or three thousand years, when the climate of the
lower Nile valley became drier and more temperate, the cereals were reintroduced to Egypt
and northern Sudan from Southwest Asia where they competed successfully with the tropical
crops developed in the savanna south of the Sahara.

Although domesticated sheep or goats have been found in southern Egypt from the sixth
millennium B.C.E., it seems likely that there were first domesticated in Southwest Asia. Cattle,
on the other hand appear to have been domesticated in both Africa and Southwest Asia(
Grigson, 1991). Thus, most if not all of the early bases of African agriculture were indigenous.

The Nile Valley 3500-500 B.C.E.

African history, as opposed to African prehistory, begins with the Egyptian records after the
Upper Egyptian unification of Egypt around 3400 B.C. (Bernal, 1991. pp.207-211). For two
hundred years before then, however, there is evidence of a sophisticated state in Nubia--
between the second and first cataracts of the Nile. Royal tombs found along the riverbank,
now under Lake Nasser, indicate the existence of a rich stratified society and the fact that
symbols of royalty such as the hawk on a serech , or palace facade, and the white crown later
used by Egyptian pharaohs were already in use there. The local pottery shows that the culture
was Nubian not Egyptian but pots and other objects found in the tombs indicate a pattern of
trade stretching from the Kordofan Mountains in what is now south central Sudan to the
Levant, now Syria and Palestine?Israel (Williams, 1980). The Nubian wealth appears to have
come from cultivation along the river banks and herding and hunting in the Acacia desert scrub
that existed then, where there is now desert. It is also possible that Nubians were already
trading in gold which was abundant in the region.

Some time later, another state emerged in "Upper Egypt" along the Nile from the first cararact
to the mouth of the Delta. The physical type of this population was similar to that of Nubia
then and today and is classified as belonging to the "Saharo-tropical" variant range, which
includes both "elongated African," of the type identified with the present Fulani or "Nilotic
Negro" seen today in the southern Sudan and Broad or "Negro" physiognomies (Keita, 1990). It
is probable that the Nubian language of the time was related to that of Upper Egypt. This
belonged to the Afroasiatic linguistic Super-family which includes the Semitic and Berber
language families, the Cushitic languages of East Africa as well as the Chaddic languages to the
west, including Hausa. One possible territory in which the super-family could have arisen are in
the Upper Nile in what is now southern Sudan, where languages of another African family are
now spoken. A more likely original home is in southern Ethiopia, where there is the most
dense concentration of Afroasiatic families and individual languages and from which the
African members of the family could have fanned out. It is conventionally supposed that the
Semitic languages now spoken in Ethiopia arrived there from southern Arabia. However, an
increasing number of linguists now see the Semitic family as having arisen in Ethiopia and
spreading from there to Southwest Asia.(Murtonen, 1967).

Like Nubia, Upper Egypt was a society in which the ruler played a pivotal part, not only as a
leader in war but as a producer of agricultural wealth, magically by ensuring good floods of the
river and practically by organizing irrigation. He also played a central role in the distribution of
bread and beer, the staples of Egyptian life. The greater size and economic potential of Upper
Egypt not only gave it the edge in competition with Nubia but enabled its king Menes to
conquer Lower Egypt in the Nile Delta and unify the whole country around 3400 BC.E

Although Egyptian rulers were always symbolically and actually aware of the distinction
between the two halves of Egypt and of the tensions between them, for most of the next three
thousand years they were able to maintain unity for the whole country and achieve a record of
stability, prosperity and cultural creativity that--with the possible exception of China--is
unsurpassed in human history.

Lower Egypt was inhabited by northern Africans of the "Mediterranean" type found in the
coastal Maghreb, but with unification of Egypt there was an immediate mixing of population
types among the elites and a slower one among the people as a whole. Even today there is a
definite cline or slope from south to north with the appearance of the population tending
towards that of Southwest Asia. This tendency has intensified with the many infiltrations and
invasions from Southwest Asia that have taken place over the past five thousand years. These
seem to have begun even before the unification of 3400 B.C.E. and traces of settlements from
Syria at this time have been found in the Delta. As stated above, there was trading contact
between the Levant and Nubia and presumably Upper Egypt in the1st half of the 4th

Cultural influences from Syria and Mesopotamia increased after unification and there is
evidence of it from artistic styles during the 1st two dynasties. It is also possible that the
concept of writing was introduced to the Nile Delta from Southwest Asia at this time. However,
the fundamental differences between Mesopotamian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs and
the fact that many ancient symbols from Nubia and Predynastic Egypt were incorporated in
later Egyptian script indicates that even if the idea of a visual representation of speech came
from outside, the form of Egyptian writing was entirely local. Similarly, the centralized
kingdoms of the middle Nile Valley are totally unlike the city states found in Mesopotamia and
Syria at the same time, and the pharaonic system would seem to be a completely indigenous

Egyptian culture was consolidated at the beginning of the Third Dynasty around 3000 B.C.E..
The following five hundred years of the "Old Kingdom" were those in which nearly all of the
pyramids were built and Egyptian architecture, mathematics, and art were raised to a very
high level. From the beginning, Egyptian culture was extremely analytical. Butchery of animals
and the dissection and separation of organs necessary for mummification--a tradition of
Saharan origin not found in Southwest Asia-- is paralleled by the central myth of the murder
dismemberment and reassembly of the Osiris the god of fertility, rebirth and immortality. In
hieroglyphics, fractions could be written as the different strokes that made up the sign for the
"eye of Horus" said to have been torn apart by the wicked god Seth and restored by Thoth god
of wisdom and calculation. This analytical tradition of distinguishing the different parts and
functions of the whole remained important in Egyptian culture and played a significant role in
the development of Greek medicine and science (See Bernal, 1992).
Although the political unity and prosperity of the Old Kingdom was destroyed by the anarchy
of the First Intermediate Period after 2500 B.C.E. its high culture survived and continued to
develop during the Middle Kingdom (2100-1800 B.C.E.) and New Kingdom (1570-1070 B.C.E.).
During these peaks of wealth and centralized authority, Egypt frequently extended its military
power to the north over Syria and its political influence much further to include parts of what
are now parts of Turkey and Greece. To the south, Egyptian control sometimes reached up the
Nile as far as the fourth cataract just 150 miles north of the modern Khartoum.

Nevertheless, Nubian culture did not disappear. In the Old Kingdom, Egypt conquered lower
Nubia to the second cataract, but, when it collapsed around 2500 B.C.E., a new form of Nubian
culture emerged. During the Middle Kingdom, Egyptians established a series of forts at the
second cataract unparalleled in the ancient and medieval worlds (Adams, 1984, pp.175-188).
Their enormous scale testifies not only to Egyptian wealth and power at the time but also to
the importance with which Egypt considered Nubia. Scholars debate as to whether the forts
were mere assertions of grandeur or had practical defensive value. If the latter were the case,
it would demonstrate that the Nubians of the time were extremely powerful and well
organised. Another possibility is that the forts--none of which is far from the river-- were built
to protect trade from the south. These suggestions are not mutually exclusive, but the last
would seem to be the most important. The significance of this trade is shown graphically by
Egyptian tomb paintings of the import of tropical goods and gold from the south.

Trade also seems to have been an important factor in the growth of a kingdom at Kerma, just
above the third cataract. This kingdom may also have been part of the threat against which the
Egyptian forts were constructed. Kerma became still more powerful after the collapse of the
Middle Kingdom and the invasion of Egypt from Syria by the barbaric Hyksos. Royal tombs at
Kerma contain the largest number of human sacrifices around the deceased ruler found by
archaeologists anywhere in the world. This indicates the existence of a powerful central
authority. Excavations in the 1980s showed that there was also a large fortified city containing
houses built of stone, mud brick or wood dating from before 2000 B.C.E. and lasting for several
centuries (Connah, 1987, pp. 39-40). There is no doubt that there were Egyptian influences in
the architecture and material culture of Kerma. Nevertheless, it was clearly an indigenous
civilisation, which collapsed only with the conquests upto the fourth cataract, of the Egyptian
New Kingdom in the sixteenth century BC.

With the climatic deterioration between 4000 and 1500 B.C.E. lower Nubia eventually became
almost uninhabitable below the second Cataract. However, by the ninth century B.C.E. a new
form of Nubian culture had arisen at Napata above the third cataract. This state dominated the
Nile Valley as far south as the modern Khartoum. Although completely independent politically,
Napata was heavily Egyptianized. Its rulers saw themselves as pharaohs, used Egyptian
hieroglyphs for inscriptions, and worshipped Egyptian gods especially Amon, whom it should
be pointed out, was generally associated with the south in Egyptian religion. In the decade
following 730 B.C.E., Pijankhy ruler of Napata sailed and marched down the Nile into Egypt,
which was in chaos with local disorder compounded by increasing Assyrian interference from
the north. Pijankhy died after several battles but his brother Shabaka went on to conquer the
whole country in 715 B.C.E.. The Nubian pharaohs were outstanding for their generosity and
their piety to the Egyptian gods. After seventy years, they were driven out of Egypt and retired
to Napata, where the state survived in Upper Nubia, until the 5th century B.C.E. when it was
replaced by that of Meroë, still further up the Nile.

Other Regions of Africa Before 500 B.C.E..

The Nile Valley has been far more extensively excavated than other parts of the continent.
Thus, it is much less easy to tell the extent of urbanisation and state formation elsewhere.
Traces of agriculture and pottery have been found in the Sahara before 8000 B.C.E. By 2000
B.C.E. the cultivation of tropical African crops had spread across the savanna south of the
Sahara and beyond, possibly as far as South Africa (Davies, 1975). By this time, Sorghum had
also been taken overseas to become--with rice-- the staples of South Indian agriculture
(Doggett, 1989. pp.43-45). The spread of agriculture in Africa does not mean that hunters and
gatherers disappeared and they continued to occupy large territories in the continent until the
last few centuries.

The beautiful rock paintings of the central Sahara illustrate the life of pastoralists or
"Bovidians" of the Southern Saharan-Sudanese tradition for many thousand years as it moved
up towards the wetter mountains with climatic deterioration. The paintings illustrate a mixed
population consisting of some North African types but predominantly of black peoples of the
Fulani or elongated African type. The extremely dark tall thin Haratîn are still found in some
Saharan oases. In the middle of the second millennium B.C.E. the style of paintings changed
and they become stiffer and more concerned with horses and chariots than with cattle. The
new chariot riders appear to have been the ancestors of the nomadic Berber speaking Tuaregs,
who came to dominate the native agriculturalists. However, as we shall see, Saharan blacks
came to play a significant role in chariot warfare.

Further west in what is now inland Mauritania, the Saharan-Sudanese Neolithic tradition,
based on this agriculture has left traces of many stone built villages and towns from between
1500-1100 B.C.E.(Munson, 1976) After 1100 B.C.E. the villages were fortified and in more
defensible positions. After 850 B.C.E. there was a definite deterioration of the culture, which
has been interpreted as the result of attacks by Berber speakers from the north who possessed
both chariots and bronze. Since then, until today, this zone has been contested between the
predominantly black and negroid local population and the newcomers. It was from this region
that much later, in the 4th century AD, that the Soninke (Niger Kordofanian) speaking kingdom
of Ghana arose.

There is no archaeological evidence of urban life in the forests of West Africa before 500
B.C.E.. However, given the availability of wood, fibers and leaves for construction and tools and
the heavy rainfall the chances for preservation of remants are very low. The possibility of
urbanision and technical sophistication , as well as cultural influences there from the Nile
around 1000 B.C.E. is suggested by the significant though controversial evidence of West
Africans in prominent positions as well as by Nilotic cultural features in the Olmec civilisation
of Central Mexico( Van Sertima, 1992).

There are two other non-archaeological indicators of very early cultural sophistication in
Africa. These are the Tifineh alphabet, still used by Tuaregs in the Southern Sahara and the
Ethiopic one, the basis of the Amharic alphabet used in Ethiopia and Eritrea today. Both of
these derive from an alphabet in use in the Levant in the Late Bronze Age and contain archaic
features indicating arrival in Africa before 1200 B.C.E..(Bernal, 1990 pp.51 & 63). Thus, during
the second half of the second millennium B.C.E., both the northern African societies invading
and infiltrating the Sahara and the Ethiopian agriculturalists contained literate individuals.

African Contacts with Southwest Asia and Europe, 3500-500 B.C.E..

Contacts between the Nile Valley and the Levant in the 4th millennium B.C.E. were referred to
above. With the Egyptian unification, the relationship became unequal with Egypt as the
dominant partner. Contacts were made not only by land, over Sinai peninsula, but also and
more often by sea. Byblos, the oldest and greatest city on the Levantine coast, during the
Bronze Age always had a particularly close relationship with Egypt. During the Middle and New
Kingdoms, Egypt controlled much of the Levant directly and had strong political influence over
the rest. During these centuries, Egyptian culture and language had a substantial influence on
the Semitic languages of the region, notably the West Semitic Canaanite, of which Hebrew and
Phoenician were dialects. ( The Semitic and Egyptian languages were already related as
members of the Afroasiatic language family.) It is because of the heavy influence of Egypt on
the Canaanites that Canaan was seen as a son of Ham (Egypt) and a brother of Cush (Nubia) in
the Table of Nations in Genesis chapter 10.

During the Intermediate Periods of disunity between the great Egyptian kingdoms, there were
peaceful migrations and invasions by Semitic speakers and others from Syro-Palestine. The
most famous of the latter were those the Hyksos who ruled Egypt from about 1730 to1570
B.C.E.. These led to later Egyptian culture being influenced by that of the Levant. Despite such
interactions fundamental differences remained between the African Egyptian irrigation
farmers along the Nile and the nomads, rainfall farmers, and traders of Syro-Palestine.
Egypt and to a lesser extent Libya had a lengthy influence around the Aegean in what is now
largely Greece. Predynastic Egyptian objects have been found in Crete, as well as objects and
material indications of Egyptian influence dating before the great Cretan palaces there were
built around 2000 B.C.E.. The architectural and bureaucratic structures of the latter were
largely based on Southwest Asia and a Semitic language may well have been dominant there
until the Greek conquest of the island around 1450 B.C.E.. However, much of Cretan religion
and art developed locally and much else clearly derived from Egypt.

During the period of Hyksos domination of Syria and Lower Egypt, there appear to have been
particularly close relationships around the eastern Mediterranean. It is possible that these
were the result of conquests and settlements in the South Aegean by the Hyksos, who brought
more Semitic and Egyptian culture to the region(Stubbings 1973 and Bernal 1991, pp.361-408).
Strong indications of such influence have been found on pictures from this period(the
seventeenth century B.C.E.) on the Aegean island of Thera and Cretan influences have been
found on murals in the Hyksos capital in the Nile Delta and in the Galilee.

Around 1570 B.C.E., Egyptian rulers from the south expelled the Hyksos and set up the
Eighteenth Dynasty and the New Kingdom. With national unity, Egyptian power not only
expanded south to the fourth cataract, but also to the north. Direct rule was established over
much of the Syro-Palestine and a sphere of diplomatic and political influence extended far
beyond that. By 1400 B.C.E., Egypt's only serious rival was the Hittite Empire based in what is
now Central Turkey. Thus, contact was established with the enemies of the Hittites to their
west in order to outflank them and to gain the products of the Aegean region, which after
middle of the 15th century B.C.E. came under the overall domination of the Greek rulers of
Mycenae in the north- east of the Peloponnese.

Tomb paintings from the Egyptian capital at Thebes show Aegean envoys and their servants
bringing Cretan products and offering their submission to the Pharaoh. Diplomatic
correspondence from Western Turkey to the pharaoh and religious reformer Akhenaten(1367-
1350 B.C.E.) has been found. Furthermore, as the Egyptologist Donald Redford has written
recently: "There is no reason to doubt that the Egyptian court was at all times during the
Mycenaean Age in correspondence with the court at Mycenae, although the letters have not
as yet been recovered" (Redford, 1992. pp.242-243). Archaeological finds from this period
provide the same picture. Many Egyptian and Levantine objects have been found around the
Aegean and Mycenaean pottery in the Levant as well as Egypt and Nubia( Cline, 1987). Still
more startling have been two shipwrecks from this period, excavated under water off the
Turkish coast. Their cargoes, one of which is extremely rich, show considerable trade among
Egypt, the Levant and Cyprus and the Aegean( Bass, 1987).

There is no doubt that the kingdoms of the Aegean were important players in the international
system between 1450 and 1200 B.C.E.. They exported metals, finished metalwork, pottery and
probably cloth, wine, olive oil, honey, and slaves. We also know that Mycenaean mercenaries
served in the Egyptian armies. Nevertheless, it is clear that Egypt was the dominant partner.
Economically, it had a huge grain surplus and was a producer of linen and papyrus, it was also
a conduit for gold and tropical products such as ebony and ivory. Politically it had a strong
centralised state extending far into Syria. Culturally, it was far in advance of Mycenaean
Greece with two thousand years of almost continuous religious and technical development
behind it. Although there was clearly substantial Egyptian influence on Greece-directly or
through Crete-before this time and for many centuries after, the period from 1450 to 1200
B.C.E. was probably the one of Egypt's greatest direct impact on Greece (Bernal, 1991. pp.408-

There are a number of indications of the presence of Africans in Bronze Age Greece from 1650
to1200 B.C.E.. Among other paintings at Thera was one identified by the excavator as of two
African boys boxing. This interpretation has been challenged but there is no doubt about other
paintings of Black Africans from the Bronze Age Aegean or about the 6 representations of
"negroid" Africans found from Bronze Age Cyprus(Karageorghis, 1988, pp. 8-15). Documents
found in Greece from the thirteenth century B.C.E., contain a significant number of West
Semitic names but also others such as Aikuptiyo the later Greek Aigyptios and Misarayo from
the West Semitic Mis5ry both meaning "Egyptian". The names Kamayo and Kemeu may come
from the Egyptian km or kame "black" and Kmt or Ke@me " the black land or people" i.e.
"Egypt". It is generally acknowledged that the name Aitioq/po found on these tablets is the
later Greek Aithiops, "Ethiopian" (Snowden, 1970. p.102).

Aithiops had a wide range of meanings. It was sometimes used to denote any people
substantially darker that Greeks or Romans themselves. Homer, for instance, refers to two sets
of "Ethiopians" one to the south and one to the east. The latter clearly indicates the dark Asian
populations of Elam (in what is now Iran) and India. At the other end of the scale, the meaning
of Aithiops was restricted to black Africans with "Negro" features. In Roman times, the name
Aegyptius became a synonym of Aethiops. Before then, it meant inhabitant of Egypt, hence
people of either dark Mediterranean or Upper Egyptian Nilotic appearance. Thus, from the
beginning there was an overlap between the Aithiops and Aigyptios, although the former
generally denoted darker and more "negroid" types.

One of the earliest Greek poems--now lost-- was called Aithiopis. It was concerned with
Memnon, king of the Ethiopians. Its date is uncertain, but the story of the "the most beautiful,"
noble, and brave Ethiopian prince, who marched to Troy's rescue and died there heroically,
was known by the earliest Greek poets whose works survive, Hesiod and Homer, who lived in
the 10th or 9th centuries B.C.E. (Bernal, 1987, pp.86-88). There is some confusion as to
whether Memnon was an Asian "Ethiopian" or an African one(Snowden 1970, pp.151-152 and
Bernal, 1991, pp.258-260). The predominant tradition, however, linked him to Egypt and Nubia
and the most plausible origin of his name is from Imn m ht or Ammenemes II, the twelfth
Dynasty pharaoh, who campaigned far to the north of Egypt in the 19th century B.C.E.(Bernal,
1991. pp.267-268).
Memnon was not the only Ethiopian to play a prominant role in the Homeric epics. In the first
book of the Iliad, Zeus goes with the other gods to feast with 'the blameless Ethiopians"(I. 423-
424) The Odyssey opens with Poseidon visiting them (I.22-24). Thus, for Homer and
presumably other Greeks of his time the Ethiopians were a particularly virtuous people with
close associations with the gods. This, and Homer's knowledge of Pygmies (who lived in the
land where cranes migrated in winter) show that he had some sense of African
Geography(Iliad. III.5-7).

Homer had a great admiration for Egypt. For him, its capital Thebes, was the richest city
imaginable; its medicines and magic were the most effective and its rulers the most just and
generous in the world(Iliad IX. 382-386; XIX. 37-39 and Odyssey IV.123-126; XIV. 282-286). The
poet also saw Africans in Greece. Odysseus' herald Eurybates, who accompanied him on
important missions was described as having "black skin and woolly hair"

(Snowden, 1970, p.102 and Drake, 1990, pp.318-319).

There was also a lord called Aigyptios on Odysseus' island Ithaca.

The modern scholar Frank Snowden has suggested that there may have been a special
connection between Ithaca and Egypt.

(Snowden, 1970, p.102). However, this would seem unlikely given the use of the name in
Bronze Age texts. It is much more probable that Egyptians and other Africans were living in
many places around the Aegean, both during the Bronze Age, which Homer depicted and in his
own time, several centuries later. However, the poet's use of the name and the description of
Eurybates's physiognomy as remarkable indicate both that Egyptians and other Africans were
familiar in Greece and that they were unusual there.

Africa 500 B.C.E.-500 C.E.

Around 400 B.C.E., the Napatan state declined and was replaced by one still further up the Nile
at Meroë, just seventy miles north of Khartoum. Archaeologists have excavated a large city
there with monuments and official buildings of stone and ordinary houses of brick. There are
many inscriptions in hieroglyphics and in a special cursive alphabet developed from Egyptian
writing for the Meroitic language. This has been deciphered and historians have been able to
establish a list of the kings and queens for the state's 700 years of history after the shift of
capital from Napata. Unfortunately the Meroitic language is still unknown and the texts cannot
be read(Adams,1984. pp. 294-332). Nevertheless, from Egyptian inscriptions, freizes
illustrating royal triumphs, descriptions by Greek and Roman travellers and archaeology it is
possible to reconstruct some aspects of Meroitic politics and society.
Royal power was based on pharaonic principles and pyramids, of a distinctive type, and collossi
were constructed. However, Meroitic queens, the "Candaces" of the Bible and Greek sources
were clearly more powerful than in Egypt. It should be noted that in the first millennium B.C.E.,
the status of women in Egypt was itself far higher, than in contemporary Syro-Palestine or
Greece. The Meroitic state extended well to the south of Khartoum and to the north as far as
the Egyptian frontier under Greek or Roman rule. In the first century C.E., technological
improvements allowed for water to be raised for irrigation and lower Nubia to be cultivated
once again. The state controlled over twelve hundred kilometers of the Nile Valley from above
the sixth to well below the second cataract, some stretches of which were extremely fertile
and productive. Thus, the economy of the Meroitic state had a firm agricultural basis. Cotton
fabrics were produced in Nubia before they were in Egypt. From these textiles and some of the
art styles it is clear that Meroë was in contact-presumbly by the Red Sea- with India.

Most scholars believe that Nubia at this time was a "corridor" and gained great wealth from
trade between Egypt and the Mediterranean and central Africa and some have gone on to
suggest that Nile Valley culture was diffused elsewhere in Africa from Napata and
Meroë(Arkell, 1961, p. 177). This has been denied in the recent academic trend towards
isolationism(Connah, 1987. pp.64-66). However, some striking similarities require explanation.
Amazing parallels between the ritual and objects of Egyptian and Nubian pharaohs and those
of royalty from elsewhere in Africa have been noted by many scholars(Hoffman, 1979, p,258-
260). There are two explanations for these, 1) that Nubia and Egypt drew from a wider African
tradition and 2) that Nile Valley styles of kingship diffused elsewhere in the continent. The two
explanations are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, it would seem likely that both processes took
place. Nevertheless, some of the specifics are too close to be explained simply as part of a
general tradition and, given other cultural similarities between Nubia and distant parts of the
continent it, is very likely that there was cultural diffusion during the 1st millennium B.C.E.
from Napata and Meroë across the savanna at least as far as Nigeria.

Meroë was a major producer of iron. One scholars has even propose that smelting iron
"formed (its) economic basis." (Phillipson, 1977. p.88). The slag neaps outside the capital led
another to describe it as "the Birmingham of ancient Africa" (Adams, 1984. p.301). It is
generally believed that forging iron was first developed in Anatolia, the modern Turkey in the
second millennium B.C.E.. However, it is likely that Egyptians were using terrestrial
(nonmeteoric) iron by the period of the Old Kingdom and there is no doubt that it was in use
there in the New Kingdom, ( Dunham and Young, 1942). However, it is likely that there were
religious and cultural inhibitions to its use in Egypt and it was never used on such a large scale
as in Nubia. Nubian sandstone contains easily accessible iron ore, and given the shortage of
tin, which is needed for bronze the development of iron there is not surprising. Iron was not
being smelted only at Meroë. By the ninth century B.C.E., it was being worked, far to the south
in Rwanda and Burundi. By Meroitic times, the metal was being smelted to the south west of
Lake Nyanza in Tanzania( Sinclair, 1991. p.200). The Nok culture of the Nigerian savanna that
was later to produce such wonderful naturalistic sculpture was already working iron by 500
B.C.E. It is difficult to say whether this wide spread occurrence in such a relatively short period
was the result of independent invention or diffusion and if diffusion what was the point of
origin. Despite the early working in Rwanda, before the emergence of the Napatan kingdom,
the most likely candidate for origin is the Nile Valley. and given the major iron works of Meroë
this state certainly had a significant influence in the spread of the metal's use.

The huge and rapid expansion of the Bantu language family appears to have begun by about
400 B.C.E.. Linguistic evidence leaves no doubt that the family originated in the savanna of
what is now Cameroon and both linguistics and archaeology indicate that its success was the
result of a superior iron technology. There is, however, so far no evidence for this in
Cameroon. Thus, scholars postulate that Bantu speakers as successful agriculturalists spread
around the north of the rain forest of the Congo basin, to the Great Lakes region, where they
encountered and learnt new herding techniques and metallurgy from the Sudanic and Cushitic
speakers there. Some of them then migrated south and south west, and began the process
that eventually led to the occupation of virtually the whole of Central and Southern Africa. The
patterns of Bantu migration and absorption of other peoples were undoubtedly extremely
complex, and it is unlikely that historians, linguists and archaeologists will ever completely
unravel them(Phillipson, 1977.pp.210-230). In any event, the Bantu expansion led to the later
establishment of many large and successful states.

Meroë was destroyed in the 4th century CE by one or more of its neighbours, the tribes to the
east and west and the Kingdom of Aksum, whose king Ezana boasted of having raided this
country in the early fourth century. The Kingdom of Aksum based in the Northern Highlands of
Ethiopia is claimed as the ancestor of the Ethiopian monarchy, which was abolished only in
1975. As mentioned above, the Ethiopian highlands had been one of the major African
agricultural hearths and a very early recipient of barley and wheat. The introduction of the
alphabet there suggests that a society of some stratification and sophistication existed there,
before the emergence early in the first millennium B.C.E. of the powerful and cultivated states
across the Red Sea in South Arabia(the present-day Yemen). It is also interesting to note that
this early introduction fits with the strong Ethiopian tradition of relations between Ethiopia
and Israel during the reign of King Solomon in the tenth century B.C.E., although many of the
details of the tradition would seem to be mythical. There is also no doubt that there was a
strong Jewish influence on Ethiopia well before the country became Christian in the fourth
century C.E.

Archaeological discoveries have confirmed the traditions that there was a close relationship
between Ethiopia and the South Arabian kingdoms. This does not mean, however, that the
Semitic languages in Ethiopia came from Arabia. Nor were conquests always from Asia to
Africa, in the sixth century C.E., for instance, Ethiopians conquered South Arabia. Almost a
thousand years earlier in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E., however, there is evidence of
cultural influence from South Arabia to Ethiopia of such intensity as to suggest a conquest.
Nevertheless, the culture always remained distinctively Ethiopian. Impressive temples were
constructed and bronze and iron were smelted. After the third century B.C.E., the civilization
continued to develop more independently and in the first century C.E. Aksum was established
as a strong kingdom. It was referred to with respect in Greek and Roman sources, and there is
archaeological evidence of grand monuments and huge fortified stone built palaces (Connah,
1987, pp.74-83) Ezana, the best known king of Aksum left inscriptions recording his triumphs in
the first quarter of the fourth century C.E. He raided the Nile Valley, and he declared
Christianity the state religion of Aksum. Thus, Ethiopia was the second country to become
officially Christian (Armenia had converted some twenty years earlier). Ezana also reformed
the Ethiopian alphabet by introducing diacritical marks onto the consonantal letters to indicate
the vowel that followed them. This principle was adopted from India and shows the extent of
trade across the Indian Ocean at the time. As a literate, urbanized and Christian state Aksum
survived for many centuries and provided a cultural basis for later Ethiopian religious and
social structures even after the capital moved to more productive climatic zones further south.

As the Sahara became drier, the coast and mountains of north-western Africa were
increasingly cut off from the rest of the continent. Their relationship with the Mediterranean
world was enhanced by the establishment there after 1100 B.C.E. of a number of colonies from
Phoenicia; these became integrated into a trading network that formed the first basis of the
"slave society" that later became typical of the Greek and Roman worlds. Nevertheless, the
Phoenicians of Carthage and the other cities of the northern coast of Africa had significant
links with the native Berber speaking peoples of the mountains and the Berbers and others
who inhabited the Sahara and the savanna to its south.

A significant proportion of the population of Carthage at this time has been described by
physical anthropologists as "negroid" and this includes members of the upper classes (Keita,
1990, pp.36-37). Thus, around 500 B.C.E. there was here, as in Egypt, Upper Nubia and
Ethiopia a distinctive literate and urbanized, sophisticated civilization on the African continent.

Africans, Asians, and Europeans from 500 B.C.E. to 500


Dislike or suspicion of peoples who look different from the physical norm or ideal type of a
population occurs in many societies. However, before 500 B.C.E. there is no evidence that
Asians or Europeans disliked Africans for their skin colour or physiognomy. Quite the contrary,
there seems to have been a general admiration, not merely for the cultural and moral
achievements of Egyptians and Ethiopians but also for their appearance. This favorable
impression did not disappear immediately. Herodotos, the earliest Greek historian, whose
work is extant wrote in the fifth century B.C.E. that the Ethiopians (by which he meant the
Nubians of the Upper Nile) were "said to be the tallest and best-looking people in the
world"(III.20). By this time, however, a prejudice against both darkness of skin and "negroid"
physiognomy was growing around the Mediterranean World. In Egypt, black was the color of
fertility, life and immortality, in contrast to the sterile red of the desert. This contrasted with
Greece where there is no doubt that at least as far back as Homer, blackness was associated
with night and death as well as with the terrors that these inspire. This is not a human
universal. In many cultures white or pallor-the color of corpses- is the symbol of death.
However, in early Greece, black also had positive aspects. It was seen as the color of bravery
and manliness while white was that of effeminacy and lily-livered cowardice. The predominant
association of blackness with evil only began in Greece in the fifth century B.C.E..

A similar shift took place in the Hebrew tradition. It is clear that there were people of African
appearence in Ancient Israel. The name Pinchas comes from the Egyptian Pa NNNhs "The
Nubian" and Smimjôn, Sim(e)on may well come from Smaw "Upper Egyptian". This does not
necessarily mean that the individuals so named were themselves black, but the names do
indicate both that there had been people of this type in Israel and that they differed from the
norm. In the Old Testament, the predominant color of sin is scarlet a tradition preserved today
in the color of the devil. In Israel, too, black had unfortunate associations. It was used to
portray psychological as well as natural gloom but black --and night as a relief from the heat of
the day-- also had positive connotations. Black was the color of the clouds that brought the
precious rain, and the beautiful and erotic lover in the Song of Songs is called in both the
Hebrew and Greek texts "black and beautiful."(Drake, 1990. p.307). White too had both
negative and positive connotations. It was sometimes the color of purity, but also that of
leprosy. In the labeling of people, the ambivalence at the level of abstraction was made more
acute by the uncertainties involved in transposing an abstract color to human complexions.

By the time of the New Testament, at the beginning of our era black had become the color and
complexion of evil and white that of purity and goodness (Drake, 1990, pp.4-5). The shift is
symbolised by the fact that the Latin "Vulgate" translation of the Song of Songs changes the
description of its heroine to "black but beautiful." It was in the last centuries B.C.E., that the
long sickening tradition began of people with dark skins being patronized by others, or
excusing themselves with the argument that their souls are white.

The Biblical story of Noah's punishment of his son Ham by a curse on Ham's son Canaan, had
originally been used to justify the Israelites' extermination and enslavement of the Canaanites.
In biblical interpretations written in the new atmosphere, the curse was transferred to Ham,
the African, and took the form of "ugly" blackness and perpetual slavery (Drake, 1990, pp.15-

What caused this change of attitude? The standard explanation that it was the first encounter
between Mediterranean peoples and black Africans does not hold, because of the evidence of
substantial contact between the two groups during the Bronze Age and the period up to 500
B.C.E.. There are two other explanations for diminution of the positive connotations of
blackness and the exageration of the negative ones at this time. The first is that Greeks began
to dominate darker peoples in Southwest Asia and Egypt during these centuries and began to
find complexion a useful marker and justification of rule; the second explanation is influence
from Persia.

During the second millennium B.C.E. Indo-European speaking invaders, calling themselves
"Arya," invaded the older civilizations of Elam (in what is now Iran) and the Indus Valley. The
"Aryans" were generally lighter in color than the natives, who seem to have resembled the
south Indians of today. During these struggles, a cult of lightness, associated with the sun and
the sky grew up. The Hindu Vedas or scriptures contain violent images of the destruction of
natives described as "darker" and clear cut in their preference for the invaders own lighter
skins, though black has continued to be valued in some respects in Indian culture(Drake, 1990,
p.309). In Iran, these struggles became integrated into the Zoroastrian religion which, like its
later branch Manichaeanism, sees the universe as in perpetual conflict between the forces of
good and evil or light and darkness.

In the sixth century B.C.E., Persia irrupted into the Mediterranean, conquering the Levant and
Egypt as well as many Greek city states. In Egypt, the emphasis on the value and moral
superiority of lightness was useful both to the conquerors and to Greeks who played an
increasingly important role there even before the conquest by Alexander the Great and the
establishment of the Macedonian or Greek Ptolemaic dynasty there around 300 B.C.E.. This
preference for the invaders and paler Lower Egyptians, introduced a new sense of "race" to
Egypt and resistance to the Persians and later to the Greeks involved a cultural "return" to the
art of the great southern Dynasties in Upper Egypt and an image of Nubia as a refuge( Drake,
1990. pp.259-265).

These new "racial" attitudes spread into Greece. Nevertheless, the prejudice against people of
evident African descent that grew up at this time was qualitatively different from the "caste
racism" found in the modern world as a direct result of European needs to justify the horrors
of race-based slavery. In the modern form, the best black is seen as inferior to the worst white.
This was never the case in classical Greece and imperial Rome. The presence of many Africans
there is indicated by the. large numbers of blacks represented in Greek and Roman art
(Snowden 1970). We know that some were slaves, although most slaves of the period were
Mediterranean or northern European. Some Africans were important free craftsmen. For
instance, the best known and most admired potter in fifth century Athens, had the Egyptian
name Amasis and was portrayed by a rival as a black African(Snowden, 1970, pp.16-17). Blacks
were also admired and feared as warriors. The bulk of Hannibal's Carthaginian army that
crossed the Alps and invaded Italy was African, and some were "negroid". The coin struck to
pay the troops and symbolizing his army had a Negro head on one side and an elephant on the
other(Snowden, 1970. pp.70-71).

This leads us to consider Greek and Roman relations with Africa beyond Egypt. The name
"Africa" probably comes from the Afar people, who lived (and live), at the southern end of the
Red Sea. In Roman times, however, "Africa" was used as a euphemism for the hated Carthage
for the territory we now call Tunisia. These northern Africans continued to play an important
role in Roman history. The early Roman playwright Terencewas a central figure in the
formation of Latin drama from Imperial times to the Middle Ages, was surnamed Afer and was
born in North Africa. The Roman imperial dynasty of the Severans, who ruled the Empire from
193 to 235 C.E., were originally Punic or Phoenician in culture and came from the coast of what
is now Libya. A number of the most important Christian fathers of the church came from
Northwestern Africa, the most important being St Augustine the theological founder of the
Roman Catholic church.
The Roman provinces of North West Africa were conquered not only from the Carthaginians
but from Berber tribes and the urbanized Berber kingdoms of the mountains to the south, who
put up a ferocious resistance to the Roman legions, which were never able to establish
themselves in the desert.

For the Romans and Greeks, there were three types of blacks. There were those who lived
within the empire, who were generally, though not always in the lower classes. Then there
were the admired civilized and philosophical "Ethiopians" who were generally located in the
Nubian state of Meroë. The name "Ethiopia" has maintained this high status into the modern
period. The third type, the fierce nomadic "Ethiopians" of the desert from Egypt to the
Atlantic, resisted Roman attacks and raided cities within the empire. From these and from
black forces in the Roman legions, Africans gained a reputation for soldierly qualities. In
Christian times, the patron saint of soldiers became St Maurice, a soldier from Upper Egypt of
the 3rd century CE, who was always portrayed as a "negro"(Drake, 1990, pp.214-220).

Ptolemy the mathematician and astronomer of the second century CE, was also an Upper
Egyptian, and known to Arab writers as a black, (Bernal, 1992, p.606). Christian writers did not
refer to his appearance. Thus, despite the widespread fear and suspicion of blacks among
western Europeans of the Middle Ages the dominant figures or authorities in their theology,
warfare, and science-St Augustine, St Maurice and the learned Ptolemy were Africans and the
last two were sometimes or more often seen as Blacks.

The name "Maurice" was itself linked to blackness, as it appears to come from the Roman
province of Mauritania, the present Morocco and Western Sahara, from which the later Latin
Maurus and the English Moor both seem to have come.

Another word with a somewhat similar history is "nigger." The Canaanite verb ngr means "to
gush forth, flow or vanish." In Hebrew, one finds the words niggarim and niggarôt as "torrents"
or "streams". Throughout,the Arabian and Saharan deserts there are ancient place names of
the type Gerrha, Nagara and Negra. These derive from the Phoenician dialect of Canaanite and
mean "oasis" or "river that flows into the desert." It is from the last that the name of the river
Niger seems to have derived. Classical writings refer to a people called Nigretai, Nigretes or
Negritai, who were Western Ethiopians or lived to the west of the Ethiopians. Together with
their neighbours the Pharusai they were described as having ridden across the desert on
horses and chariots to raid and destroy 300 Phoenician cities on the coast. The Roman writer
Pliny( 23-79 C.E) believed they came from the Niger but it would seem more plausible to
suggest that they came from the Saharan oases(v.43). There is no doubt that they appeared as
"black" to the peoples of the coast.

It is not a coincidence that the best known Latin word for "black" is niger. There is no common
Indo-European root for "black" and although niger has descendents in all the Romance
languages, negro, nero, noir etc. there are no cognates to it in other Indo-European languages
and its origin is unknown to orthodox lexicographers. In early Latin there were many words for
the color, the commonest of these being ater used for the dull black of shade or night and
niger. The meaning of niger was originally restricted to the brilliant black, with a violet tinge
found in southern products such as ebony and opals. Although not attested for people in the
early period, this color fits exactly with the beautiful complexions of the Haratîn in the oases of
the Sahara, and the Latin word niger would seem likely to derive from them as the Nigretai,
Nigretes or Negritai. Later niger displaced ater and the other terms to become the standard
Latin term for "black." The fact that the Portuguese used their word for "black" negro, to
describe the people they raided and enslaved on the African coast seems to be simply a
coincidence and the negative connotations of "negro" and its derivative "nigger", in the era of
race-based slavery more than justify the distaste with which they are held today. Nevertheless
the terms have an honourable prehistory showing once again the intricacy and intimacy of
relations between Africa and Europe in antiquity.


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"Animadversions on the Origins of Western Science' Isis 83.4. (1992):596-607.

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[Note: All Basque words are in Italics and Bold-faced Green]



----Please CLICK on desired underlined categories [to search for Subject Matter, depress Ctrl/F


"Sahara" Defined

Basque Development

Numbers & Letters

Vowel Interlocking
VCV Syllables

Agglutinated Language

Words with "UR"

Basque Organized

Language Modification

Universal Language



An ancient "Saharan Language", which was preceded many thousands of years by the
Igbo Language of West Africa, is believed to have been used by linguists to invent "Indo-
European" and Semitic languages, including Ainu, Dutch, Egyptian, Engish, Eskimo, German,
Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Sanskrit, Slavic group, Spanish, Yiddish, etc. (Nyland 2001). T This was
done with the use of different formulaic manipulations of the Saharan vocabulary, creating
largely invented (non-genetic) language "families". Nyland has now proposed several
hypotheses and a theory on the origin of these languages (see Theory). However, recent
studies by Catherine Acholonu of Nigeria have revealed a precursor to "Saharan" that was
developed in very ancient times by the Igbo people of West Africa. In Genesis 11:1 this
language is said to be spoken in the whole world, and therefore should be called the Universal
Language, which had been the language of the first civilization on earth, located in Africa and
the Near East. Indeed it may have been developed by the Igbo of West Africa (see (see
Catherine Acholonu). Forms of the languare are still spoken by the Dravidians of India, the
Basques of Euskadi and the Ainu of Japan. In Genesis 11:7 we are told: "Come, let us confuse
their language that they may no longer understand one another's speech". The clergy of both
Judaism and Christianity considered this a biblical command and have spent an enormous, and
long sustained effort to enforce this belief. The formula used by them in most of the artificially
constructed vocabularies is called the "vowel-interlocking" or "VCV formula". Because the
Basque language is the closest to the ancient Saharan language and has the best English
dictionary, this will be called Basque from now on. In most cases, the first 2nd, 3rd or 4th
letters of each Basque word were agglutinated into a new word (agglutinate = to unite or
combine into a group) . After this was done, some or many of the vowels and h's were
removed according to a plan to give the new words special characteristics. In Hebrew most, if
not all, of the vowels were removed for writing, but not for speaking. For example, Talmud,
was spelled 'lmd' but pronounced 'tal-mud', from Basque tala - mudapen, watch out -
alteration: "Watch out for alteration", which is basic to an oral law.

It is the task of the linguistic archaeologist to look at languages before the invention of
writing, to search the very roots of such languages; the subject could also be called pre-
historical linguistics but that name would still be part of the fortress called linguistics. To make
this process at least plausible, other disciplines such as religion, mythology, archaeology and
historical linguistics must be included, while earlier research and hypotheses in this field
should be carefully re-examined.

Many languages, including such early languages as Hebrew and Sanskrit, were created by
formulaic manipulation of Basque vocabulary. However, the name Basque, or more accurately
Bask because there is no Q in the language, did not exist at the time this language invention
was done. There must have been an earlier form of this language available to the linguists
doing this manipulation. But where did it come from and what was it like?

The research done by Dr. N. Lahovary and published in his book "Dravidian Origins and
the West" shows conclusively that Basque and the old Dravidian languages of India are closely
related. Nyland’s research into the Ainu language of Japan shows the same. The Ainu are
thought to have been isolated in the Far East for as long as 8,000 years, yet they retain an
early, non-agglutinated, form of Saharan, thus the original language must have been very old.
These startling finds seem to indicates that the precursor of the Basque language was spoken
very early in Europe, Africa and Asia, just like Genesis 11:1 tells us: "Now the whole world
spoke one language". Nyland suggested that the forerunner of the Basque, Dravidian and Ainu
languages was the Saharan language and that the language spoken in the beautifully painted
cathedral caves in southern France and northern Spain was an early form of the same.
However, this early form of the language cannot have been the one used by the early religious
scholars doing the inventing of new languages such as Sanskrit. They used a later,
manipulated, form that was constructed with agglutination. It employed the vowel-
consonant-vowel interlocking principle.

That many words in the Saharan/Basque vocabulary are artificially assembled is obvious
from words like alkar, meaning mutual. It comes from three Basque roots: al-ka-ar:
al. - .ka - ar.

ala - aka - are

alai - akatsbako - arreman

happy - perfect - relationship

"A perfectly happy relationship".

This is a very good definition of the meaning: 'mutual'. Applying the same system of
analysis to other words, it becomes clear that thousands of Basque words have been similarly
assembled using the VCV vowel-interlocking system, but not all. Underneath this artificial
vocabulary lies a non-invented, non-agglutinated Basque language, but how can this be
explained? Is it possible that this substratum Basque language is still spoken somewhere?


The Basque word zahar means old, and the name Sahara could therefore be interpreted
as "the old country", but the Basque ‘z’ and the ‘s’, which is pronounced as ‘sh’, are quite
different letters so zahar may not be the origin of the name Sahara. However, there appears to
be another meaning embedded in "Sahara". It is analyzed as:


esa - aha - ara

esan - ahalguzti - aratz

to say/speak - Almighty - pure/refined

"The speech of the Almighty is refined"

Could this interpretation of the name mean that the original language had been refined
or developed by early linguists? The logical and highly organized structure of the Basque
language surely seems to support this possibility. The name used by the Basques for their own
language is "Euskera", analyzed as:

eu - us. - .ke - era

eu - usa - ake - era

euki - usaiako - akela - erabildura

to retain/preserve - usual/traditional - goddess - usage/speech

"We preserve the traditional speech of the Goddess".

In order to bury the true meaning of the word, the Roman Catholic church changed the
quite obvious ‘.ke’ for ‘ake’ to '.ka' so that now we have both Euskera and Euskara in the
dictionary. De Basaldua (1925) called his native language "Eskera" and explained the meaning
as esk (hand) and the ending era as form, wave, grace, beautiful, good, and he pulled these
words together to mean "way to move the hand; wave with grace" which, he said, was also
called 'ademan' in Spanish, meaning gesture (see p. 55). This meaning is difficult to accept
because it appears to have little bearing on the language. Instead, we are apparently dealing
here with words belonging to the first civilization on earth. This civilization had evolved so
greatly that the substratum language was no longer adequate to describe their achievements
in astronomy, mathematics, acoustics, navigation, religion etc. Therefore, a system had to be
found to expand the language. The VCV vowel-interlocking structure was the result of their
search for a practical expressive language.

There seems little doubt that the Basque language is a direct descendant of this original
Saharan language and that this language has not changed very much for several millennia,
probably because of the extremely careful oral transmission traditions used in their
educational system, passing the language on from generation to generation without changes.


Many people have theorized about how language began, some suggesting that the first
words used were imitations of spontaneous articulation of sounds in nature, such as animal
cries, expressions of pain, happiness, fear etc. Others searched for the origin by studying the
first utterings of small children. English possesses a large number of onomatopoeic words such
as crack, bang, splash, splatter, bash, thrash, thump etc. It is certain that such onomatopoeia
play a role in language formation but it is doubtful that such words are the origin or main
source of the language. Basque contains more onomatopoeia than any other language but
Paleolithic words such as aitz (rock, stone), ur (water), euri (rain), lur (earth, soil, floor), elur
(snow) and izotz (ice) have no onomatopoeic origin.

The well-known linguist Noam Chomsky reasoned that the structural facets of language,
the ground rules of speech, had to be inborn. If that is the case, speech must be very old.
Building on this thinking,, the Saharan language must have gone through at least three main
stages such as:

Stage 1) the basic, natural language evolved during the Paleolithic and early Neolithic,
prior to ca 8,000 B.C. It appears that the words in this language mostly named tangible items.

Stage 2) the perfection of clear vowel differentiation and the introduction of

onomatopoeia, starting about 8,000 B.C. This non-agglutinated phase of the language was
taken east to become the basis of the Ainu and Dravidian languages. It is still spoken today by
some 170 million people. This vocabulary included many intangible items.

Stage 3) the invention of morphemic agglutination (morpheme = a distinctive

arrangement of sounds that contains no smaller meaningful parts; agglutinate = to unite or
combine into a group) which resulted in the development of a greatly diversified vocabulary in
which each one of the new words started with vowel-consonant-vowel (VCV), a process that
was probably completed by 4,000 B.C. Making a description or comment pertaining to the
thought to be expressed created the new words, and the morphemes were then assembled to
create words needed in science and technology. The earliest invented languages of the Near
East, such as Hittite, Luvian, Palaic, and Sumerian etc. were later constructed out of this
invented vocabulary, starting possibly shortly before 2,000 B.C.

It may not be possible to reconstruct Stage 1, but the existence of the Dravidian
languages with their well-established relationship to Basque, may make it possible to
reconstruct many of the words and much of the grammar of Stage 2. Nyland’s (2001) work in
linguistic archaeology up to now has mostly been based on Stage 3, because the built-in
sentence in many of the agglutinated words, created with the VCV formula, can still be
restored with his system of decoding. Research into the vocabulary and sentence structure of
Stage 2, of necessity, will require a thorough knowledge of the Dravidian languages, such as Dr.
N. Lahovary possessed.


Detailed study of the enormous stone monuments in Egypt have brought home the
realization that sciences such as mathematics, astronomy and acoustics were highly developed
and applied, long before the time of the Greeks and Arabs. We also know that magic played a
big role in the thinking of these people, which tended to promote dedication to the task at
hand and resulted in superior achievements. The Ogam research by Anthony Jackson,
anthropologist at Edinburgh University, shows that prime numbers, which are numbers that
cannot be divided by any whole number, were ascribed superior magical properties.

Another source of magical fascination was the mirror-like patterns in numbers e.g. 121,
87178, 1399931, most composed of odd-numbered digits. A special case is 'Pi' parsed here to
make certain groups stand out more. Note in about 17 characters the combination 238-46-2-
46-832 forms a typical sort of mirror-like characteristic:

3993-751-0-58-2-09-749-44-592-3-07-81-640-628-620-8998-6280 etc.

Searching in there, you see numbers like 793 and 795, 751 and 749, 582 and 592 and the
sequence at the end where 640 links to 620 with an overlapping link of 628 and 6280 with
8998 in between. It is not surprising that 'Pi' was a major source of magical fascination for the
mathematicians of the pre-patriarchal civilization.

Another very important number in modern science and especially to the ancient
Egyptians was the natural log E = 2.718281828459.... note the mirrored numbers 828-1-828. It
is created by the series: 1 + 1/1! + 1/2! + 1/3! + 1/4! where the exclamation mark means
"factorial". (4! means 4 x 3 x 2 x 1).

Apparently, the early scholars developed a "symbolic mathematical language" that was
embedded in their monumental structures. The measurements of the great pyramid at Gizeh
show many such mirror-like numbers according to Jim Branson in Idaho, who studies the
acoustical characteristics of the spaces in the pyramid. This mathematical language magic was
also used in the formation of Stage 3, the improved and enriched Saharan language we know
today as Basque. The mirror-like VCV pattern became the basic structure of the new
morphemes. These were used to construct the new vocabulary that has vowel interlocking as
the main rule. Where vowel interlocking is interrupted, a break in the word is required which
usually means that a new word begins.

Vowel interlocking may have been another form of magic with letters and, thanks to it,
the hidden sentences in many Saharan/Basque words can be recovered. This system proved to
be so successful that the scholars who made up the new Semitic and Indo-European languages,
adopted the practice of abbreviating the word to be used to the first three letters, of which the
last vowel of the first VCV had to be the same as the first vowel of the to be agglutinated VCV:

VCV1 - V1CV2 - V2CV3 - V3CV4 - V4CV

The Sanskrit language was made up almost entirely out of that half of the Saharan
language which starts with VCV, while the scholars creating the Romance languages and
English used the same system as a priority but quite often felt obliged to use a CV word for the
first morpheme. For the Semitic and Germanic languages the entire Saharan/Basque
vocabulary was used and a new letter, the ‘w’, a letter without meaning or Saharan origin, was


The reorganization of the Saharan language, done millennia ago, was so far-reaching that
even today half of the Basque vocabulary is made up of the Saharan scholars’ invented words.
The basis for the VCV structure was the 16 consonants, each flanked by two vowels. Starting
with B the first VCV would be ABA which was subdivided into five syllable groups, ABA, EBA,
IBA, OBA, UBA , each of which was composed of five syllables: ABA, ABE, ABI, ABO, ABU / EBA ,
EBE, EBI, EBO, EBU / IBA, etc., 25 in all. Each of the 15 consonant therefore was associated with
25 VCV syllables for a grand 400 syllables. In addition there was the double RR (pronounced as
a rolling R), with 25 VCCV morphemes, ARRA, ARRE, ARRI etc. making a total of 425 different
roots. Most of these morphemes were assigned groups of related words, others had only a
single meaning (e.g. EBO for: ‘to develop’ or UTO for ‘utopia’) and a large number was left free
for future expansion of the language (e.g. EBU, IMO). A great deal of thought must have gone
into the composition of these word groups because even today it is not difficult to select from
them the correct word which was used in the make up of the hidden sentence. As is usual with
invented words, some of these over time may have been dropped or forgotten through non-
use, which would have freed some of the VCV’s for other words or non-use. For instance, one
of these may well be the verb ulatu, which still is used in some Polynesian languages as hulatu,
meaning 'to welcome'. Hula girls dancing a welcome meet visitors to Hawaii at the airport. It
appears that the system was never completed because there are still about 106 out of 425
VCV’s without vocabulary designations. See the VCV Dictionary.

The basic idea for bringing about this mass language conversion project came from the
marvelously organized Saharan/Basque language itself (Stage 3). Here follow some of the
words and names used by the Basques themselves, which show the VCV manipulation process
of the original language


Webster's dictionary defines "agglutination" as: " to unite or combine into a group ". This
is a rather inadequate definition because not only whole morphemes, but also parts of
morphemes, as small as one or two letters, and whole words were being agglutinated and
fused. In this text, Nyland used dots to replace the letters that were removed. In the case of
double vowels an 'h' is often omitted. The 'rr' morphemes are classed with the VCV's.

Combining complete words:

jokaleku (playing field)

joka - leku

hitting, striking - place, location

"place of hitting (the ball)"

gurdibide (cart path)

gurdi - bide

cart - path

Combining only VCVs:

ainguratu (to anchor)

ai - in. - .gu - ura - atu

ai - ine - egu - ura - atu

ai - inertia - eguzkisarrera - urandi - atxurbegi

I hope - inertzia, tied down - sunset - ocean - hole in the anchor stone

"I hope to be tied down to the hole in the anchor stone when sun sets on the ocean".

errukizko (merciful)

er. - .ru - uki - iz. - .ko

ere - eru - uki - iza - ako

erresumina - erruki - ukitu - izan - akorduan euki

charity - compassionate - to touch - to be - to remember

"He was remembered for his touching compassionate charity".

ezpatalari (swordsman)

ez. - .pa - ata - ala - ari

eze - epa - ata - ala - ari

ezereztu - epaitu - atalbanatu - alabeharrez - arimagalduko

to extirpate - to slash - to cut into pieces - fatally - merciless

"He extirpates by slashing and cutting into pieces, fatally and mercilessly".

izigarrikeria (atrocity)

izi - iga - ar. - .ri - ike - eri - i.a

izi - iga - ara - ari - ike - eri - iha

izi - igarrezin - arakintza - arrigarrizko - ikertu - erio - ihaurri

fright/horror - unpredictable - massacre - awful - to investigate - deaths - many

"They investigated the many deaths and the unpredictable horror of the awful massacre".

laranja (orange)

.la - ara - an. - .ja

ala - ara - ano - oja

alaitu - aratz - ano - oian

to fill with joy - pure - juice - forest, trees

"Pure juice from the trees fills us with joy".

mendebaleko (of the west)

.me - en. - .de - eba - ale - eko

ume - ena - ade - eba - ale - eko

umel - ena - adelatu - ebakin - ale - ekoiztu

overripe - (superlative) most - to prepare - to produce - grain - to produce

"They prepare to produce a most prolific grain harvest".


ibi - ito - ori - ia

ibili - itoaldi - orrits - iaio

to be - to laugh a lot - celebration - cheerful

"There was a lot of laughter at the cheerful celebration"

(Two vowels together often means that an 'h' was omitted.)

merezi (merit)

ome - ere - ezi

omendu - eredu - ezinobe

to honor - example - excellent

"Honor the excellent example".

Combining a VCCV with VCV's.

ospegabeko (unknown) (was: otspegabeko)

ots. - .pe - ega - abe - eko

otse - epe - ega - abe - eko

otseintza - epel - egarri - ebegikortasun - ekoiztu

subjection - timid - strong desire - hospitality - to acquire

"With timid subjection (he/she) had a strong desire to acquire hospitality".

ustekabezia (unforeseen)

uste - eka - abe - ezi - i.a

ustekeria - ekarri - aberekeria - ezinukatuzko - ihabali

prejudice - to bring/cause - brutality - ezinukatuzko - ihabali

"Prejudice can cause undeniably frightening brutality".

Combining a full word and VCVs:

larkeria (excess)

lar ' .ke - eri - i.a

lar ' oke - eri - iha

lar - okerrez - erion - ihaurri

too much - mistakenly - to spill - to scatter

"Too much was mistakenly spilled and scattered".

zabaltasun (openness, honesty)

zabal - al. - .ta - asu - un.

zabal - ale - eta - asu - une

zabal - alegeria - eta - asuri - une

sincere - rejoicing - abundance - new born lamb - place

"There was sincere rejoicing at the place with the abundance of newborn lambs".

zorigabeko (dismal)

zori - iga - abe - eko

zori - igarri - abereretsu - ekonomo

fate - to predict - brutal - administrator

"The fate of the brutal administrator was predicted".

Combining CV and VCV morphemes:


bi- iz.-.ka-ai

bi - ize - eka - ai

bidegaitz - izentxar - ekaizpera - aipu

dangerous crossing - bad name - stormy - reputation

"It is a dangerous crossing and has a bad name because of its stormy reputation."


zue - ubel - erro - oartu

all of you - purple, royal - origin, descent - to perceive

"All of you are perceived to be of royal descent".


pi - ire - ene - es

pikaldi - irestzaile - enetan - eskerga

clearing the forest - destructive - always - enormously

"Clearing the forest (with fire) is always enormously destructive".

kaiku (wooden bowl for boiling milk)

ka - iku

kaldatu - ikusbera

to heat up - watchful

"Be watchful while heating".

Using a combination of CV, VCV and VCCVs such as in: Gipuzkoa

.gi-ipu-uz. ' ko-o.a

egi-ipu-uzka ' ko-oha,

egin - ipurterre - uzkali ' kontrako - oharkabe

to be - impatient - to overthrow - enemy - spontaneously

"We are impatient to overthrow the enemy spontaneously".

(A break in the word is necessary because the vowel interlocking was broken.)



eba - aska

ebatzi - askatasun

to decide - freedom
"We decided to be free".

aritz (oak tree)

ari - itza

arrigarri - itzalesko

marvelous - majestic.

"Marvelous and majestic".

gorputz (body)

go - or. - .pu - utz.

go - ori - ipu - utzi

gogor - orriztatu - ipurtmami - utzi

ruthless - to cover with leaves - rump, corpse - to abandon

"Ruthlessly they covered the corpse with leaves and abandoned it".

Recently encoded words lack the interlocking structure. For example, maribidetako,
which has to be a new word because prostitution probably only came into being when the
male dominated religion arrived. The ancient VCV word construction system had apparently
been forgotten or abandoned.

maribidetako (prostitute)

.ma - ari ' bide ' tako

emagalkeria - arriskudun ' -bide ' takoidun oinetakoak

prostitution - dangerous - occupation - high heeled shoes

"Prostitution is a dangerous occupation in high-heeled shoes.


The re-organization of the language was consistently done in groups of related words. In
the Basque language almost all words connected with water contain the root 'ur' (water).
Descriptive terms were then attached to designate the kind of water. A small sampling is given
and compared here with the English equivalents, many of which appear strangely unconnected
and artificial among them.

Uraldi flood alditxar = misfortune

Urandi ocean ndi = enormous

uraz garbitu to wash azal = skin, garbitu = to wash

urazpil washbasin azpil = large dish

urbide canal -bide = route

ureztaketa irrigation eztasun = scarcity, -keta = quantity

urgarri water soluble -garri = suffix which denotaes cause

urgeldi stagnant water geldi = quiet, stagnant

urgora high tide gora = high

urjauzi waterfall jauzi = to leap, jump

urlamia waternymph lamia = gnome, troll

urlurrin steam lurrin egin = to vapori

urmargo water color margo = color

urodi irrigation canal odi = pipe

urtatu to soak -eztatu = to cover with

urtzulo waterhole txulo = little hole

Urzozo water ouzel zozo = blackbird

Euri rain= exclamation to draw attention

The only way to explain the reason for the English words to be so very different and
unconnected among themselves is to show the way in which they were constructed with the
use of the vowel-interlocking VCV formula, which can then be used to restore the hidden
meaning in most of the words (see English Etymological Vocabulary).

Although the grammar of Basque is complicated, difficult to learn for an English speaker
and obviously evolved over a long time, the vocabulary is so well organized, even regimented,
that it cannot have evolved naturally over time into this condition and obviously has been
scholarly arranged in a fairly short time. As all the early-invented languages such as Sumerian,
Hebrew, Sanskrit etc. use this VCV system, the agglutination of the Saharan language must
have been done first, since 3,000 bce. Almost exactly half of the Basque vocabulary starts with
vowel-consonant-vowel or VCV, two vowels flanking one consonant. Some of these vowels
may be omitted in the word invention process, but the consonant is always retained. One
exception is the consonant 'h' which may or may not be shown in the dictionary or used in the
invention process e.g. both andi and handi (large, enormous) are found in the dictionary, or
elberri and helberri (newly arrived); the 'h' is often removed from words, even dialects.

The Benedictine clergy, who created all the west-European languages, were at first
instructed in the word invention science by the people who worked on the Latin language in
Rome and had been developing it into the liturgical language of the Roman Catholic church.
These highly educated and dedicated clergy then fanned out over western Europe, established
mission stations with scriptoria, created libraries and started the language invention process.
For over 1000 years they employed non-Benedictine grammarians who spoke the
Saharan/Basque language, probably originating from Liguria in the Alps and from Euskadi in
the Pyrenees region. In the clergy' writings it is often indicated that there are children in the
monasteries; most of these belonged to the families of the grammarians. In addition, young
boys were sent by their parents to the monastery residential school, to be trained as deacons,
clergy and linguists just like Alcuin had been, a practice still followed in several Benedictine
monasteries to this day.


The monk-linguists used a large number of tricks to make the languages they created
sound very different. First the periphrastic word order of Basque was completely reversed,
which created a fundamental difference and became the main characteristic of the Indo-
European "family" of languages. Samples borrowed from Aulestia (p. a30):

negation+auxiliary verb+complements+ main verb

1 2 3 4 5

Ez naiz zurekin etorriko

I am will not come with you

2 5 1 4 3 3


1 2 3 4 5

Zu bezain ona naiz ni

I am as good as you

5 4 2 3 2 1


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Ikusi duzun mutila Jon da

John is the boy that you have seen

7 8 6 5 4 3 2 1


1 2 3 4 5 6

Zu baino jakintsuagoa naiz ni

I am more intelligent than you.

6 5 4 3 2 1

The intellect that invented this reversal of the ancient periphrastic word order created
the basic structure of the "Indo-European languages".

For English, the pronunciation of the alphabet was changed from the usual Latin to the
"English" sound, which instantly caused the words to be pronounced very differently.
Relatively few vowels were removed from the Latin agglutinations, but many more from the
English ones, giving it a very different 'feel'. Most languages received newly invented
"characteristic" letters, ô, ü, ø, ö, ñ, è, etc. and/or unusual combinations of letters such as 'eau'
in French pronounced 'o', or the Dutch 'ui' pronounced something like 'oi' but can only be said
properly by a Dutchman. No doubt intended as a joke, Dutch also ended up with the
embarrassing deep throat scrape, written as 'g' or 'ch' such as in Scheveningen, schaap, gaan,
gooien, a sound that the clergy probably borrowed from Hebrew and tossed it into Dutch.

Thank goodness the Benedictines resisted these peculiar urges when they created
English, which therefore became the simplest of all to learn and speak, and eventually became
England's most successful export, in spite of its often ridiculous pronunciation. To some
languages the clergy assigned a gender (male, female or neuter) for each word e.g. in French
and German, which led to dumb cases such as the 'soldier on guard duty' who is female: "die
Schildwache" in German and "la sentinelle" in French. Holland is one of the few countries that
rid itself in this century of this incredible gender nuisance; retaining today only the neutral
form 'het' e.g. "the horse" is not "de paard" but "het paard". Grammatical rules for each
language were invented, some more appropriate and more easy to use than others. Only
German ended up with endless and ungainly lists of "Ausnamen", exceptions to the ungainly
grammatical rules. However, none of these languages was saddled with grammatical rules as
complicated as the Basque grammar possesses, although Latin came close.

In English, the original verbs were separated e.g. the 'tu' at the end of zerbitu (to serve)
became 'tu zerbi' (b = v): to servi and 'to serve' in English, 'te dienen' in Dutch and 'zu dienen'
in German. In English the original 'i' was maintained in the word 'service', broken down into
zerbi-ike, serbi-ikerlari, serve-the visitor. English is full of such Benedictine tricks. Other
examples which show that the 'tu' at the end of the Basque verbs became the 'to' before the
English verb: begitu (to look), apurtu (to break, destroy), kisitu (to whitewash), neurriratu (to
regulate) etc.


From Nyland’s (2001) work with the following languages, it appears that all highly
developed languages, without exception, were invented by linguists; some languages turned
out more elegant and useful than others. If this is indeed the case, then we should be entitled
to start facing out some of the unnecessary and dying ones, such as Celtic, Friesian, Wallonian,
Flemish, Catalan etc. Danish and Norwegian are almost the same so why not combine them, as
the Basques did with their seven languages, which are now together called Euskera Batua or
Unified Basque. Ukrainian and Russian, Galician and Portuguese, Finnish and Estonian, Polish
and Kashubian, Czech and Slovak, Macedonian and Bulgarian etc. all can be combined with a
bit of good will. Why treasure something as artificial and unauthentic as the many unnecessary
and people-dividing Benedictine language creations that we are now stuck with?

Nyland (2001) noted that the European nations were making tremendous strides to unify
under one government, one monetary system, one army, no boundaries, and now it is time to
simplify the church-caused language bewilderment and start working toward a Unified
European language, which we could call Euro Batua, which could be English or Spanish, but not
German. The third millennium A.D. could be celebrated by starting to work toward the
Universal language, it is long overdue. It is a pity that this Universal language cannot again be
the Saharan of our ancestors. It is just too complicated and too difficult to learn.
Nevertheless, Nyland hoped that the oldest highly developed language in the entire world
should not be allowed to die. Let Latin and Greek and Sanskrit only be remembered in books,
we can well do without them, but the Basque language must survive and be spoken by a
vibrant population, if necessary through the creation of a United Nations Heritage Region
called Euskadi. Nyland thought that it would be a worthy project for the U.N.