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Black Athena: Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Volume I: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece, 1785-1985
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Black Athena: Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, Volume I: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece, 1785-1985

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  237 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Could Greek philosophy be rooted in Egyptian thought? Is it possible that the Pythagorean theory was conceived on the shores of the Nile and the Euphrates rather than in ancient Greece? Could it be that Western civilization was born on the so-called Dark Continent? For almost two centuries, Western scholars have given little credence to the possibility of such scenarios.

Paperback, 608 pages
Published November 1st 1987 by Rutgers University Press (first published February 1st 1987)
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Ian Chapman
An exceptional work, although to a slanted agenda. Bernal builds heavily on the work of Astour, whose ''Hellenosemitica'' catalogued links between the Semitic lands and Archaic Greece, and attempted to show the Greek city-state social structure as derived from a Middle Eastern model. It has also been alleged that he draws on obscure Black American publications from an earlier era. Bernal's research is outstanding, but his conclusions are sometimes absurd. For example, he wishes to establish an E ...more
I first heard about this book during my freshman year of college. I was intrigued by the idea of the African roots of European culture, and picked up the book to learn more. Unfortunately, I found Bernal's scholarship to be questionable -- he was making assumptions and claims based on very slender or circumstantial evidence, whether archaeological or philological. It is too bad, because Bernal's poor scholarship obscures the undoubtedly large amount of interaction and influence between Africa, A ...more
So unusual, it suggests the populations of Ancient Greece and Rome are systemically the result of migrations from Africa meeting the Fertile Crescent, and his rationale comes from linguistic analysis. It sounds far-fetched but it makes more sense than what the Greeks consider as their origin.
Jun 20, 2010 Korri added it
Shelves: antiquity, race
Bernal has interesting conclusions that unfortunately have at best a tenuous basis in archaeology and speak more to contemporary notions of 'race' than those of ancient Greece. While Bernal's Afrocentrism comes from a noble place--putting African and black experience, so long marginalized, at the center of studies--it is entirely erroneous to think that ancient Greeks understood 'black', 'Egyptian', 'Ethiopian' and 'African' as interchangeable terms about ethnicity. While there was crossover bet ...more
The viewpoint that Classical civilisation has its roots in the older civilisations of the Ancient Near East has been growing and solidifying for twenty to thirty years now. Nevertheless Bernal's work is a landmark in this school of thought, drawing together evidence of all types and synthesising it together to form a coherent revision of the history of the Classical world. Unfortunately Bernal's writing is very dense (understandable perhaps given that he is dealing with evidence that spans nearl ...more
If you want to read a book that caused controversy, this is it. Attributing the roots of Greece to Africa sounds far fetched but then he gives a lot of evidence and one sure does wonder. He does spend a great deal on how the "white" Europe saw Greece as the highlight of civilization and in doing so, changed the skin colour of the Greeks. This explains the racism of Nazi Germany, but I'm not quite convinced since I never saw the Greeks as "White" folks. After all Europa did journey to Africa so t ...more
Hmmmmmmm! I don't think I've ever enjoyed researching an essay more. This book "launched a vituperous proxy war over postmodernism in history" according to Kirsten "3 a.m. verbosity" Morry.
Jose Vidal
Este libro es más interesante por las preguntas y posibilidades que plantea que por sus conclusiones. Estas, desgraciadamente, se basan demasiado a menudo en suposiciones y comparaciones no demostradas (y en muchos casos indemostrables)
Sin embargo su crítica a la visión etnocéntrica de la antigüedad y la sección dedicada a la evolución de la idea de las influencias proximo orientales y africanas en la cultura Greco-latina es muy interesante.
Creo que es una lectura que todo interesado en el peri
James Hall
The deceased scholar provided a impressive, thought not conclusive, argument for Africa producing the world's first civilization on which all successive civilizations own their existence. He paid a dear price, careerwise, for not letting the fact get in the way of truth. While there was other afrocentrists (Cheikh Anta Diop and G.G.M. James)who contribute mightily to the the cause, Bernal was a respected white scholar. Which made his publication a bombshell unleased on America's ivory towers.
Dina Ahmed
حزينة لاني لم اجد علي الموقع نسخة لها بالعربية
كتاب ثري كهذا يعترف بفضل حضارة ( مصر وكنعان وفنيقيا) علي الحضارة الاغريقية ذات التفاخر والتباهي مترامي الاطراف علي مر العصور حتي اليوم
يؤصل جزور الحضارة الاغريقية ويردها لنسبها الاكبر وهو حضارات الشرق الادني القديم
أولي بنا ثم لأولي بنا نحن كعرب ان نقرأه جميعا وندرسه لاولادنا ونحفظه عن ظهر قلب
Exellent. A brillant work
introductory volume to multi-volume study, improperly maligned by critics as the full statement of author's case.

lays out the basic principles of the argument: that there is ancient evidence for the ancient belief that greek civilization owes something to african and asian sources, and that these sources were crudely elided by romanticist vandals in order to prop up their white power macro-narrative.
K Taylor

A fascinating account that uses science, archeology, and mythology to promote Afrocentrism. The reading is easy despite the sheer size of each volume. However, there is considerable weight on mythology and "common sense" to make each argument. The archeology and science are solid; but the interpretations are difficult to accept.
My understanding is that this one has been pretty thoroughly walloped by the Classics establishment, and rightly so, but I'd still like to read it and see what all the fuss is about.

[EDIT, subsequent to actually reading vol. 1: As a classicist, I'm sure Mr Bernal is a very talented Sinologist.]
Pretty fun! (But I'm no classicist.)

I feel the argument is poorly organized. Coulda been a lot more systematic, I feel.
Dec 09, 2008 Ebookwormy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ebookwormy by: Edward Said, "Culture & Imperialism"
Assuming this is an abridged version of the 3 hardcover volumes.
David Ravicher
A required must read for anyone in Western Civilization
Ricardo  Devore
A must read for any classicist.
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Black Athena: Black Athena, vol. 2 Black Athena Writes Back: Martin Bernal Responds to His Critics Black Athena: Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization; Volume III: The Linguistic Evidence Cadmean Letters: The Transmission of the Alphabet to the Aegean and Further West Before 1400 B.C. Geography of a Life

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