Posts Tagged ‘Ancient Egypt’

Eygptian YouTuber’s Criticism of Netflix’s Portrayal of a Black Cleopatra

April 20, 2023

Early today I put up a post about an Egyptian lawyer suing Netflix because its documentary about Cleopatra cast her as a Black woman. He isn’t alone in his objection. There are reports that the Egyptians put up a petition on condemning the documentary. This garnered 85,000 signatures before it was taken down by the internet petitioning organisation for breaking their community guidelines. This video comes from the Fun Killing King channel on YouTube. It’s by an Egyptian, who lays out the historical reasons why Cleopatra wasn’t Black. She was descended from the Ptolemies, descended from one of Alexander the Great’s generals. They practised incest and lived in Lower Egypt, so they were probably weren’t racially mixed. If they were, the Egyptians with whom they would have intermarried would have been lighter skinned than those further south. Contemporary portraits of her show her with Caucasian features. He states, though, that as a Mediterranean woman she would probably have been darker skinned than the Romans.

He also makes the point that Egypt was very mixed in the racial composition of its citizens. Some were White, but others, particularly in the south, had more sub-Saharan African citizens. This is demonstrated in their art and statuary. He shows the tomb paintings the Egyptian middle class commissioned c. 300 AD, which show many of their subjects as Mediterranean rather Black African. He is annoyed at outsiders appropriating Egyptian history for themselves, and blames Jayda Pinknett Smith, Will Smith’s wife, who is an Afrocentrist and one of the show’s producers and its narrator.

He states at the outset that he is has no objections to Black leads, and later argues that documentaries like Nefflix’s, which appropriate ancient Egypt for Black Americans, overlook real Black history. They ignore the Kushite Black pharaohs, who conquered and ruled Egypt and its empire in the Middle East until they were finally defeated and expelled. They also ignore later, powerful African empires like Mansa Musa’s in Mali. The Fun Killing King compares the Afrocentric portrayal of Cleopatra to the Kushite invasion at one point, which adds further evidence that at least some Egyptians see this as a colonialist enterprise.

Egyptian Lawyer Suing Netflix for Portraying Cleopatra as Black

April 20, 2023

Netflix has caused a bit of controversy this week with its documentary about the legendary queen of Egypt by having her played by a Black actor. This is unhistorical, as the real Cleopatra was Greek, descended from Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Ptolemy had set himself up as pharaoh after Alexander’s death. I’ve also heard the claim today that she also had red hair. There have been a number of posts by bloggers and vloggers across the Net showing that Netflix got it wrong. And now, apparently, an Egyptian lawyer is so angry about it and the threat it presents to Egyptian identity that he’s suing Netflix. He also wants the streaming service banned in Egypt because its content is contrary to Islam, and especially Egyptian Islam.

His argument is that the portrayal of Cleopatra as a woman of colour is Afrocentric, and derives from that ideology’s doctrine that the originally ancient Egyptians were wholly Black and only became lighter through later invasion and immigration. This is a correct description of the Afrocentric view of ancient Egypt, although some leading Afrocentrists, like Cheikh Anta Diop, also thought that the ancient Egyptians were a racial mixture of Black and White. The idea that the ancient Egyptians and thus Cleopatra were Black is fervently held by very many western Blacks. The Black activist Akala gave a talk to the Oxford Union a few years ago arguing for the view. The contrary view, that the ancient Egyptians were light-skinned Caucasians, is dismissed as a colonialist doctrine intended to deny Blacks knowledge of their true history. There’s a weird conspiracy theory added to this. I’ve heard Blacks claim that White, British authorities deliberately chopped the lips and noses off ancient Egyptian statues in order to disguise their negritude.

The lawyer is not just angry at Neflix’s portrayal of Egypt’s most famous queen, but he also fears that this is a truly colonialist attitude that will lead to the displacement of his people from their homeland. He states that Afrocentrism is a doctrine that teaches specifically Black Americans that they are the true Egyptians and demands their return to Egypt. This is certainly true of a number of Black Muslim sects, beginning with the Moorish Science Temple. However, he adds that this return to Egypt is also coupled with a call to expel or displace the present indigenous Egyptian population. I’ve done some reading on Afrocentrism, and haven’t found that as an Afrocentric doctrine. The founders of Black American Islam seem to have claimed to be either Egyptian, or to have been told the true history of ancient Egypt during visits to the country by Egyptian holy men. I haven’t come across any doctrine in the Afrocentric religions calling for the disinheritance and ethnic cleansing of present-day Egyptians. The insistence that the ancient Egyptians were Black has caused friction at some Egyptological conferences and symposia held in Egypt, but I’m not aware of anything more serious.

I’m not a Muslim, so I can’t comment whether Netflix’s content is contrary to Islam or not. Some Islamic countries, such as Iran, have very strict rules regarding what may be shown on the screen. Violence is forbidden along with relationships between men and women. Hence a few years ago there was a spate of Iranian movies about the adventures of children. Other Muslim countries have different attitudes. When Dallas was still a force on global TV, I was surprised by a statement from one of the Gulf Arab states that the show was enjoyed by its people, and they felt that Patrick Duffy’s character exemplified proper Muslim values. That must have been before the character had an adulterous affair. The accusation that Neftlix is contrary to Islam therefore seems to me to be an extra allegation just to get the service banned in Egypt. The real reason is the documentary’s perceived insult and threat to Egyptian ethnic identity.

It seems to me that the problem is that Netflix wanted to please Black American ideas about ancient Egypt, ignoring how the Egyptians themselves saw their identity. This is a form of colonialism. One of the doctrines of Critical Race Theory is ‘epistemic violence’, which holds that White supremacy denies the colonised, darker peoples a voice and the ability to describe their position. Well, this is clearly what the portrayal of Cleopatra as Black for Afrocentric reasons has done, although I doubt this would be recognised by Critical Race Theorists, for whom the victims of such violent colonialist discourse are always Black. This controversy is itself another refutation of Critical Race Theory.

JP on How Critical Race Theory Ignores Black Achievement

March 30, 2023

I posted another piece last night attacking Critical Race Theory and the theory of White privilege as a racist attempt to redefine racism that didn’t fit reality. This used the example of the murder of seven White vagrants in Florida by the Nation of Yahweh, a new Black religious movement that combined religion with a flourishing business empire. Its leader, Yahweh Ben Yahweh, and his commanders bitterly hated Whites, and to get into the upper, governing ranks of the organisation you had to kill a White person. They did so with the murder of seven White tramps. Yahweh Ben Yahweh had been honoured by former president Bill Clinton for his organisation’s regeneration of run-down Black districts in Miami. In this instance, it was the Black religious leader who had the power and privilege, and his White victims absolutely none.

JP, one of the great commenters on this blog, also posted this comment, pointing out that the theory of White privilege also ignores or plays down Black achievement, both in modern America and in the great civilisations that have arisen in Africa throughout history. He writes:

‘>Critical Race Theory and its activists have attempted to redefine racism as prejudice + power. Blacks cannot be racist, because, according to CRT, they are powerless.

That redifinition is insulting. It does 2 things very well:

1. discredits any power that Blacks have ever achieved.

2. deprives the individual Black of self expression

African Americans have achieved power. Justice Thomas has wielded large power over the law in the US since the 1990s, Oprah dominated American society and was the 1st Black billionaire, Obama was elected (and re-elected) President of the US, on and on the list goes. I’ve heard people trying to claim that such powerful, successful people are just “Black face”. What?! That these people are traitors to real African Americans. Wow. That is how far these people will go to nullify Blacks who don’t fit their redefined racism.

Africans have achieved power and greatness. Great African societies and cultures are forgotten or just ignored. The Songhai Empire, Mali Empire, etc. The ancient Egyptian civilization is exempted from being “African” for … well whatever reason besides literally being on the same continent. Even if African achievements are acknowledged, these examples are waft aside as being ancient history; and that European white privledge and racist slavery overpowered them. Not so fast. West African, aka. “Black”, merchants were already enslaving peoples long before Europeans colonized the West Coast in the 18-19th centuries. The timeline of history doesn’t support the narrative that European white privledge caused or started slavery or racism.

This redifinition is revisionist. It’s made by people who don’t like the facts, or are ignorant of history, and who redefine words to fit a narrative of how they want to manipulate the future.’

He has also posted a video of an angry Black mother objecting to CRT being taught in schools. There are many videos like this of Black parents strenuously objecting to their children being taught it in schools. In one of these, a father stated that he had never encountered racism, and that he wanted his son to believe that he could do or be anything he chose. But CRT worked against this by telling Blacks they would always be marginalised, poorer and discriminated against. The father believed in the American Dream. This has taken a bashing through repeated depressions and the Reaganomics that have meant that the middle class – Black, White, Asian, whatever, has become impoverished. Generally speaking, Blacks are less prosperous than Whites, but this is an average. Black conservatives are worth reading in this respect, as they point out paradoxically the immense progress Black America made after the ending of slavery. Despite real oppression in the form of the Jim Crow Laws and segregation, they built up capital, opened businesses and entered the professions. Black districts like Harlem also had their commercial centres, just like their White counterparts. In the 1950s an American advertising magazine hailed Blacks as the new middle class.

Since then, things seem to have gone backward. Authors like Thomas Sowell recall how the streets of areas like Harlem were safe when they were growing up. I think Sowell says that when he lived there, he never heard a gunshot. They were less run-down, and residents had far more self-respect. This isn’t racial – the same conservatives will point to similar conditions and attitudes among the White underclass in Britain. I don’t accept that this relative decline is due to the welfare state incentivising such anti-social attitudes and behaviour. But it’s clear that something has gone seriously wrong, something that the victim narrative of Black America and Britain isn’t addressing and may actually be making worse.

Wellcome Museum Purges Display on History of Medicine to Include African Shaman – A Piece of Cultural Relativism That Will Also Damage Blacks

February 24, 2023

This comes from a piece our favourite YouTube historian, Simon Webb, put up on History Debunked a few days ago. He was attacking the new policy towards the museum that has come in with its new director, a woman whose degree is in the arts. Before, according to Webb, the museum was excellent, covering the history of western medicine in rigorous detail and including displays of operating theatres. Much of this, however, has been junked because the new director has deemed it ableist, racist and colonialist. The gallery to its founder, Wellcome himself, has also gone because he did not hold the current, mandatory beliefs. In their stead a gallery has erected containing two photographs showing the horrors of colonial experimentation on Black Africans along with one Mrs Eruditu, a self-professed African shaman, who conducts healing ceremonies and will counsel visitors to the gallery traumatised by the pictures. Webb calls her a witchdoctor, and describes her as completely mad, as she believes inanimate objects also possess consciousness. She doesn’t like the British Museum and the Egyptology displays, because the exhibits there have told her that they want to be underground. Nor does she approve of the display of a Native American totem pole in the Musee Nationale in France, as this has told her psychically that it wants to be out in the open air. Webb states, quite correctly, that western medicine has produced amazing advances in combating disease and extending the human life span. This new policy is a direct attack on that.

I think Webb, if he’s right about the Museum’s new policy, and he seems to be, has an excellent point here. He views it, no doubt, as another attack on western culture in the name of anti-racism, anti-imperialism and post-colonialism. He is, unfortunately, also very likely right about this. There have been pieces on YouTube by other right-wingers attacking the current policies of the Museums Association, which are all about this. I’ve got a feeling that Manchester Museum has also fallen to these new policies, and that they are also reviewing their collections as a result. But this policy is also harming Black and particularly Black African advancement in ways which the founders of the ‘Science Must Fall’ movement, which is ultimately at the heart of this, probably don’t understand.

The ‘Science Must Fall’ movement was a South African campaign to decentre western science because it rejected indigenous knowledges about the world rooted in myth and legend. There was a video on YouTube of a student debate in one of the South African universities, in which a Black female student urged her White comrades to decolonise their minds and accept that tribal rainmakers could indeed make it rain. People are welcome to whatever mystical or religious beliefs they choose, providing these don’t break the law. But they are separate. Back in the 90s, the late Stephen Jay Gould, a biologist and palaeontologist, attempted to end the war between science and religious by stating that there were No Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA). Science dealt with fact, and religion with issues of meaning and values. Of course, militant atheists of the Dawkins type disagreed and thought that it was a capitulation to unreason. Gould’s wrong in that religion and science do overlap, but as a general point I think it’s fair. Science and religion, as a general rule, are separate.

I am also sure that the new director is right, and that Blacks were experimented on by surgeons and doctors in the past. It certainly happened in America, where one of the great surgeons of the 19th century experiment on Black women without anaesthetic. I read somewhere that H.G. Wells was partly inspired to write The Island of Dr. Moreau by accounts of a German doctor experimenting on Black Africans. But you have to be very careful in making such judgements. A while ago I provoked an angry reply in a piece I had written for the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. I was talking about the history of medicine in the context of space exploration. One of the books I had consulted for the piece described one particular pioneering doctor of tropical medicine as a quack for his theories and treatment of diseases. Unfortunately for me, one of the other senior members of the Society knew him, and wrote to me stating that he was a dedicated, humane man of science. The problem was that he was facing completely new diseases unknown in the west and which nobody knew how to treat. This is a good point, and I wrote to the aggrieved gentleman apologising for the inadvertent smear and issued a correction to the Journal. I wonder if some of the other pioneering doctors and surgeons, whose work has similarly fallen into disfavour, were like the man I mentioned – a sincere medical man, working in the unknown.

Underlying the attempts to decentre western science are two related attitudes. One is the fact that many displaced, colonised peoples have been harmed by the destruction of their own, indigenous world view. This has left them without meaning, resulting in alcoholism and drug addiction in many indigenous communities like the Amerindians in the Americas and Aboriginal Australians. The other is the belief in the Noble Savage, in which indigenous communities like them are somehow better, and more noble than moral than White, western society. The attempts to decentre western science and include indigenous myth and religion are attempts to restore dignity to these colonised peoples.

But African paganism also has its dark side. The priests of one of the cults in Nigeria were actively involved in the slave trade, to the point where the Nigerian equivalent of the saying that someone has been sold down the river literally translates as they ‘have been stolen by the Oracle’. There is also a widespread belief in witches and witch hunting all across the continent. Many of the accused, as in the pre-modern west are women, and some of the trials are just as deadly. In one Nigerian ritual, the accused woman is given the Calabar Bean, a poisonous vegetable. If she doesn’t vomit it out quickly, she’ll die, and so be judged a witch. There have also been professional witch hunters of the same stripe as the infamous Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, of Civil War England. Way back in the 19th century one of the Zulu kings went on a witch-hunting campaign. Witchsmellers, the indigenous Zulu witch hunters, were engaged and duly pointed the finger at a number of suspects, who were duly executed. A European official talked to the king, and said this all looked very dubious, and wondered if the witchsmellers were right in their accusations. The king laughed, said he wondered too, and had all one hundred of them executed as frauds.

And then there’s muti, which is really sinister. This is the sacrifice of humans, often young children, for their body parts, which are sold to the sorcerer’s clients to bring them good luck. I put up a piece I found on one of the YouTube channels about the amazing efforts of a Black British woman against it in Uganda. But it also appeared in Britain back in the early part of this century. The cops dragged the spine of a murdered boy, Adam, wrapped in various pieces of coloured cloth out of the Thames. The cloth’s colours were those of the muti cult, and it looked like child, probably 12 years old, had been sacrificed. And some African anthropologists have defended such murders. A little while ago one of them presented such a paper at an anthropological conference in Manchester. They claimed that these sacrifices were morally acceptable because Africans had a collective morality that saw that the sacrifice of an individual could benefit the community. Bear in mind that we are talking about the murder of children, whose body parts, including their genitals, are considered most effective if they have been hacked off while the victim was still alive. I believe that the anthropologist presenting the paper was asked to leave.

Indigenous African religion has also been the tool of White supremacist governments to keep Black Africans firmly in their very subordinate place. A few decades ago, a Zulu shaman, Credo Mutwa, had a book published in this country, in which he explained his mystical beliefs and practises. From what I’ve read, it was a mixture of native Zulu lore and western occultism, aimed at the New Age crowd. It was reviewed by the sceptical UFO magazine, Magonia, who were very scathing. Mutwa, they claimed, had been a stooge of the Apartheid South African government during their retribalisation campaign. This stressed the indigenous, separate identities of the various South African tribes, who by then had become a Black proletariat. The intention was to keep the Black population divided so they were too weak to successfully challenge the Apartheid government.

Magonia have also several times stated that these books extolling the joys of indigenous life without western science and technology are all aimed at westerners, who have no intention of living like their ancestors did. I think it’s a fair point. The satirist Alan Coren expressed similar sentiments, set in a European context, in one of his pieces for Punch back in the 1970s. It’s about a very middle class, academic couple, who take over a French village and undo centuries of civilisation in order to return to them to what they see as the inhabitants’ natural, pre-Christian, pre-scientific state. But they themselves have no intention of rejecting scientific modernity. The piece ends with one of them stating he intends to write a paper on it. I think the same mindset is at work here.

As for Eruditu’s beliefs about the British museum and its exhibits, this is just animism, pure and simple, the belief that every rock and object has a soul. But I’ve heard very different things about the unhappy state of some of the exhibits. I’ve got a strong interest in psychical research, and a few weeks ago went to an online meeting about ghosts and hauntings in the British Museum. The Egyptology section has something of a cult as some of the visitors there are worshippers, who leave offerings. One spiritualist visitor, a medium, is supposed to have said that the mummies like being on display, as they feel they have a role to teach, but are frustrated at not being able to communicate with the living. This, of course, is completely the opposite of what Eruditu has said, and you can take or leave either or both depending on your attitude to mysticism. I many people are unhappy about the dead being excavated and put on display in museums, and don’t need a mystic to tell them this. But Egypt is certainly one of the great, founding civilisations of humanity, and Egyptology has massively extended our knowledge of the human past and this civilisation’s undeniable achievements and contribution.

Back to Africa. Way back in the 1980s I read an article by a Black African historian, a Muslim, who had presented his own series on the continent’s history on the Beeb. He lamented the fact that the west’s scientific and technological knowledge, inherited from ancient Greece and Rome, was not being transmitted to Africa. He’s right. After all, India and China have made massive strides in development this century because they have embraced science and technology. Sun Yat-Sen, the Chinese revolutionary who founded the Kuomintang, said at the beginning of his movement that ‘We say hello to Mr Science and Mr Democracy’. Sadly, democracy in China got left behind, but science has been taken up with a vengeance so that the country is now a centre of serious technological innovation in space and robotics. And it was helped in this by the early translators of western scientific texts, who referred to it not as western science, but as ‘the new science’. Something similar may well be needed in Africa.

This attempt to decentre and stigmatise western science and medicine has the potential to seriously harm Black advancement. I do think that there is a genuine potential for science and technology in Africa that is currently untapped and stifled. And Webb complained a few months or perhaps a year ago about a piece in New Scientist, in which a Black, female scientist called for more Blacks in lab coats. This movement, which sees Blacks and other indigenous peoples as non-scientific, runs counter to that. It reminds me of some of the scathing criticisms of non-western cultures by the early orientalists, who felt that these peoples would not be capable of assimilating western culture.

And I dare say the promoters of this movement would accuse me of racism, but I am afraid that there are real dangers of encouraging the dark side of African religion and spirituality through an uncritical acceptance of such shamanism.

If Webb is right, then the new director has not only ruined a once great museum, but she’s part of a larger movement that poses a threat to the whole tradition of the Enlightenment, a movement that genuinely endangers scientific advancement for some of the world’s peoples, who most need it.

My Email to the Local Labour Party about the False View that only White Europeans Were Responsible for Slavery

January 4, 2023

I had an email from my local branch of the Labour party in Bristol this morning informing that they will be out this weekend canvassing people about the issues that matter to them. I wish them the very best of luck. Twelve years of Tory misrule have just about wrecked this great country and are forcing millions of ordinary, hardworking Brits into poverty. Not to mention the continued exploitation and impoverishment of the disabled and unemployment through benefit sanctions, work capability tests and all the rest of the welfare reforms that they have pushed through to enable them to stop paying benefits to people, who genuinely need it, all on the flimsiest of pretexts.

But one issue in Bristol that particularly concerns me is the way the slave trade is represented in exhibitions, the media and in education. Bristol was one of the major cities in the UK slave trade, along with London, Liverpool and I think Glasgow in Scotland. Although the slave trade was banned in 1807 and slavery itself abolished in 1837, it still casts a very long shadow over the city, just as it does the country generally. This was shown three years in the BLM riot that brought down the statue of Edward Colston and in a motion passed by the city council calling for reparations to be paid to the Black population. What concerns me about this is that it seems to me that a distorted image of slavery has arisen, in which White Europeans and Americans are seen as uniquely responsible and culpable for it. I am worried about the apparent lack of awareness that it existed right across the world and long before Europeans started enslaving Black Africans for labour in the plantations of the New World. It also appears that the BBC is determined to push this distorted image, as detailed by the group History Reclaimed and their document identifying the bias in twenty BBC programmes, several of which were about slavery. These included the edition of The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan when he went to Sierra Leone and Enslaved, presented by Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson. I therefore sent a reply stating my concern about this issue and the way it was handled by the local council. This runs

‘Dear Neil,

Thank you for your email letting me know that the party will be out this Saturday canvassing people in Bedminster about the issues that matter to them. I am afraid that long term illness prevents me from attending. However, apart from the continued cuts to public services forced on the mayor by central government cuts, there is one local issue that is of deep concern to me. This is the presentation and public knowledge of the history of slavery. Slavery has existed since antiquity and across the globe. Some of the earliest records come from the ancient near eastern town of Mari, which detail the sale of slaves and other properties. You can find lists of slaves on noble estates from ancient Egypt. Slavery also existed in the Muslim world, India and China. It also existed in Black Africa long before the emergence of the transatlantic slave trade. In some African societies, the proportion of the population that was enslaved varied between 30 to 70 per cent. By and large the slaves acquired by White European and American merchants were purchased from Black African slavers. Duke Ephraim, the king of Dahomey, had an income of £300,000 a year from slaving. There are records of British merchants to Africa being offered slaves Black chiefs. After abolition some of the slaving tribes attacked British trading posts in order to make us resume purchasing their human wares. Britain also paid compensation to former African slaving nations after abolition. In the 1850s we also fought a war with Dahomey in order to stop them enslaving the other local peoples.

But I am afraid I find little awareness of these issues in Bristol and among people generally. I am worried that this is creating a false view of the trade in the public, in which slavery, and particularly Black enslavement, is wholly the fault of Whites. This includes a lack of awareness that White Europeans, including British people and Bristolians, were also enslaved during the Turkish conquest of the Balkans and the Barbary pirates from Algiers and Morocco from the 16th century on till the French conquest of Algeria in the 1820s. I feel very strongly that this is creating an ideological motivated demonisation of Whites, especially if coupled with Critical Race Theory, which holds that all Whites are racist and will remain so.

I also feel this situation has been exacerbated locally by the motion passed a year or so ago calling for the payment of reparations for slavery, introduced by Green councillor Cleo Lake and seconded by Deputy Mayor and head of Equalities Asher Craig. This called for funding to be given to Black organisations rather than individuals, so that they can create sustainable, prosperous Black communities. This is obviously a noble aim, but the stipulation that the money should cover all Afrikans, as councillor Lake styles all Blacks, in the context of reparations means that Britain has accepted a moral responsibility for compensating people,. who were never enslaved by us, and which includes the vary African nations that committed the raiding and brutality that supplied the slaves. It also has nothing to say against the celebration in some African countries of these slavers, like Efroye Tinobue in Nigeria. It also erases from history the White victims of slavery.

I sent emails last year to Mdm. Craig and Councillor Lake pointing out these defects. I regret that I never received a reply. But this issue still has a particular urgency in Bristol. In previous correspondence, Asher Craig informed me that the local government was planning a new, ‘One Bristol’ curriculum for schools, which would foreground Black people. I have absolutely no qualms about Black Bristolians receiving the educational help they need, nor being included in our city’s history. But I am afraid that this curriculum will place the blame for slavery solely on White Bristolians and that this will lead to further racial division and prejudices.

I would very much like the local council to ensure that whenever slavery is taught or exhibitions on it mounted, its antiquity and the fact that other peoples, such as Black Africans, Arabs, Indians and so on were also involved, and that Whites were also the victims of the trade. This need not be an extensive treatment, but it should be there.

I hope you will take on board these concerns and recommendations, and wish you and the other party members all the best campaigning on Saturday.

Yours faithfully,

David Sivier’

I’ll let you know if I get a reply.

Graham Hancock – A Crank, Possibly, But Definitely No Racist

December 9, 2022

My discipline, archaeology, has been massively going after Graham Hancock this week. Hancock’s ah, um,, ‘maverick thinker’, I suppose you’d say, who’s been presenting a series on Netflix arguing that thousands of years ago there was a highly advanced civilisation that perished in a cataclysm, but passed on its secrets to other ancient civilisations around the world. This has understandably annoyed archaeologists and a number have put up videos, some of them lengthy and quite detailed, disproving him. Hancock’s been promoting this idea for some time now. Going back two decades and more, he had a series on Channel 4 with the title ‘Water World’ or something like it, also arguing that there was a global advanced civilisation, whose monuments have been covered up by a flood, as recorded in the Bible and other ancient religions. Now I’m sure that Hancock is wrong, and the criticisms of his dodgy history and archaeology are right. But I take exception to one of the other accusations levelled at him, which is that he is racist.

This accusation is partly based on his false ascription of the achievements of indigenous cultures around the world to this putative prehistoric civilisation. It denies those people the credit for their achievements. But the accusation is also that it’s similar to the ideas of some bonkers White supremacist groups, who are using Hancock’s ideas to promote themselves. One archaeologist posted a video saying that Hancock should have disavowed the use of his ideas by these fascists. It also criticised him for being friends with Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson. There are fair criticisms to be made of both of these men. Peterson’s an arch-conservative and anti-feminist, but hardly a Nazi. Rogan was pushing anti-vax nonsense and is an advocate for some mind-expanding drugs. A few years ago people were accusing him of being a ‘gateway to the Alt-Right’. Possibly, but he also talks to people from the left, who are otherwise denied a platform by the lamestream media. Journalists like Abbie Martin, who talked about Israeli propaganda against the Palestinians and how she found, when she visited the beleaguered Arab nation, that the reality was nothing like the picture painted by the Israeli state. He’s also talked to biologists and journalists exposing the lies of the trans ideology. This is not Alt-Right, no matter what groups like Mermaids, Stonewall, Antifa and the rest say. The people criticising the gender ideology tend to be radical feminists, many from the socialist left. Part of their opposition against it is that it reduces masculinity and femininity to traditional, stereotypical sex roles. One of the feminist vloggers interviewed one of the leading activists against the trans ideology, who was furious that people like her were being presented as right-wing. Another feminist activist criticised Matt Walsh for misrepresenting feminists as uniformly in favour of trans ideology, and then criticising them for it. Rogan gives a voice to people outside the mainstream. Sometimes it’s rubbish, and sometimes it’s immensely valuable. He has also interviewed a number of Black celebs, so again, not a Nazi.

The White supremacist ideas being referred to seem to me to be the Traditionalist ideology of Giulio Evola. Evola was an Italian Fascist and occultist, who was a major ideological influence on the scumbuckets behind the Bologna railway bombing in the 1970s. A fascist group bombed the station, killing and maiming over a hundred people. Evola believed that there was a strongly hierarchical, ‘Aryan’ civilisation in Hyperborea in the arctic, which was responsible for all the subsequent cultural achievements of the civilisations around the world. This is twaddle. But Hancock’s ideas are also similar to those of others, which don’t come from people in the fascist fringe. A couple of years ago I picked up an old book, Colony Earth, which had been published in the 1970s. This claimed that Earth may have been an extraterrestrial colony, whose advanced civilisation was destroyed in a nuclear war. The pyramids may have been fall-out shelters, as were the megalithic tumuli in Britain. It’s an interesting read, but certainly wrong. I think Charles Berlitz, who started the Bermuda Triangle myth, also believed in this, supporting it in one of his books with artefacts from Aztec tombs that look like aircraft. Berlitz is someone else, who I’m fairly certain has absolutely no connection to fascism whatsoever.

And I don’t believe Hancock is either.

When he was travelling the world on his Channel 4 series he was accompanied by his wife, who is Sri Lankan. Now, White supremacists do not, as a rule, marry dark-skinned people from outside Europe. If they do, they’re angrily denounced as ‘race traitors’. In one edition of this earlier series, Hancock reported on the mysterious ruins of ancient city found off the coast of the Bay of Bengal. He was shown talking respectfully to an Indian gent, who told him how such findings tie in with Hindu ideas of the antiquity of civilisation and ancient Indian legends of flooded cities. Again, this isn’t quite behaviour you’d expect from a genuine White supremacist. He also travelled to South and Central America, where he proposed the old theory that the Mayans, Aztecs and other ancient Amerindian civilisations must have learned how to build their pyramids from someone else. I think this was once again ancient Egypt. But who brought that knowledge to the New World? Black Africans. He pointed to an Olmec bas relief of a warrior’s head, and declared its features to be ‘proudly African’. If this is racism, then its Afrocentrism rather than White supremacy. As for the ancient race behind these monuments, Hancock doesn’t say what colour they are. In this, he breaks with some of his predecessors, who say they must have been White because the legends of numerous Amerindian peoples state that vital parts of their culture were brought to them by White gods. Hancock is therefore less racialised in what he says than his predecessors.

I disagree profoundly with Hancock’s ideas, but he has a right to say them like everyone else. And if it piques people interest in these ancient cultures so that they want to find out what they were really like, that’s all to the good. But I do think it’s profoundly wrong to accuse him of racism. That just further cheapens the word and weakens it as a weapon against the real thing.

An Ancient Egyptian Maths Textbook

November 20, 2022

I found this list of the contents of an ancient Egyptian maths manuscript, papyrus 10057, on the chapter on the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus dating from c.1650 BC, in Henrietta Midonick’s The Treasury of Mathematics: 1 (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1965). The book’s a collection of ancient maths texts from around the world, with relevant commentaries and explanations. I found it interesting because it shows the kind of maths problems ancient Egyptian scribes were interested in and had to deal with, and which were being taught in the schools. The papyrus is divided into three books

Book 1

Division of various numbers of loaves equally between 10 men.

A group of completion calculations involving multiplication of fractions.

Another group of completion calculations involving simple addition of fractions.

Arithmetical solution by trial of equations of the first degree.

Similar equations involving the bushel.

Division of loaves between men in unequal proportions

Book 2

Part 1: Volumes and cubic content in corn.

Cylindrical containers

Rectangular parallelopipedal containers.

Expression in correct form of 1/10, 1/20 up to 1/100 of a bushel, disguised as a sum in cubic content.

Part 2. Areas

Area of square and circle compared.




Truncated Triangle


Division of given area of land into equal sized fields

Part 3: Batter, or the angle of a slope.

Book 3: Miscellaneous Problems in Arithmetic

Multiplication of fractions

Proportionate values of precious metals.

Division of loaves in unequal proportions.

Division of barley into shares in arithmetical progression.

Division of loaves in unequal proportions.

Daily portion of a yearly ration of fat.

Reckoning of livestock.

Division of 100 bushels of corn in unequal proportions.

So-called pefsu-reckonings. Conversion of grain into bread and beer, and the barter of these last.

Geometrical progression.

Conversion of fractions of the bushel (1/2,1/4, 1/8 etc) in henu.

Food estimate for a poultry yard.

Estimate of food of an ox-stall.


Unintelligible group of signs.

Fragment of accounts.

Calendrical entries.

There’s considerable interest in ancient Egypt among Blacks, because it’s been seen since at least the early 19th century as a great Black civilisation. Despite attempts to improve the educational performance of Black children, they still lag behind other ethnic groups like Whites and Asians in schools. I wondered if a way round this would be to try to stimulate their, and other races’ imaginations, with maths problems based on those of the ancient Egyptians. You wouldn’t want to teach them ancient Egyptian mathematical methods, as they’re very different and more convoluted than modern methods and some of them are frankly wrong. But I think you could set kids problems based on the kind of problems budding scribes were taught. You could possibly combine it with Black History month and have the kids dressed up as ancient Egyptians and learn a bit about the civilisation as well.

Reproduction of a page from the maths manuscript.

A Slavery Document from Nuzi of the Ancient Near East

September 23, 2022

I’ve got the impression that many of the people talking about the various issues connected with the British enslavement of Africans and its continuing legacy don’t actually realise that slavery existed long before the rise of Black transatlantic slavery in the European conquest and colonisation of the Americas. But the supporters of slavery were very much aware of it and used it as part of their polemic against the abolitionists. Slavery had existed in the ancient world, not just in ancient Rome, but also in Egypt, Persia and the other ancient civilisations. It also formed part of the social systems of present-day non-Western societies like the Ottoman Empire. This formed part of their argument that slavery was somehow natural, and that it was unfair for Britain to ban it when other nations and peoples all over the world still kept people in bondage.

As an example of just how ancient slavery was, there’s this document from ancient Nuzi, one of the city states of ancient Iraq. Twenty thousand clay tablets illustrating everyday life in the city c. 1500 BC were excavated by the University of Pennsylvania, the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Harvard Semitic Museum and the Iraq Museum from 1925-1931. This was when Nuzi was under the control of the Hurrians. The tablets themselves were written in Akkadian, the language of the Assyrian empire.

Tablet JEN 845 documents the sale of a female slave by Ziliya, Sukriya, Tehip-sarri, and Silahi, the sons of Silwa-Tesup to Hut-arraphe son of Tisam-musini in return for movable goods that they’ve received.

See Ernest R. Lachman and Maynard P. Maidman, Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi adn the Hurrians, vol *: Join Expedition with the Iraqi Museum of Nuzi VII, Miscellaneous Texts (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns 1989) 40, 268. This needs to be taken into account in any discussion of western slavery to counter the tendency to present it as something that only Whites did to Blacks. It also needs to be included in order to gain a proper appreciation of the difficulties the abolitionists had combating a system that was both global and ancient.

Black Computer Programmer Wants More Black Men in Maths, Computing and Medicine

September 7, 2022

This is a short from Isaac Smith’s YouTube channel. It’s simply him watching a Black computer programmer, Kwanza Kanju, go through the stats showing that Black boys would stand more chance of a job if they switched their ambitions from basketball to a career in the STEM subjects. He begins by saying that there are a million Blacks wanting to play in the NBA. He goes through the decreasing number that qualify for the sport at each succeeding level, until he shows that there are only seven places available in the NBA that these million aspiring kids are chasing.

On the other hand, there were 100,000 jobs going last year in maths, computing and medicine. He states that if you practise hard and study enough, you become what you want to be. If you spend your time playing basketball from 3 to 6 pm, you’ll be a very good basketball player. If you spend the same amount of time in libraries, you’ll be a brilliant scholar. And he knows that Black people will make excellent mathematicians and medical specialists, as the first doctor wasn’t Hippocrates but Imhotep.

He’s right, and basically saying what Black conservative writer Jason Riley says. Black people can excel academically if they spend the same time and effort on these subjects as they do on sport and music, where they already excel.

I wanted to put this up as a piece of positive, optimistic advice that a Black STEM expert was giving to aspiring Blacks after all the negative stories this week about Black looting gangs, the violence at the Notting Hill Carnival and so on.

Scientific American Rejects Real Science for Queer Theory Ideology

September 4, 2022

Going through YouTube this past week I found a couple of videos tearing into Scientific American for publishing a piece of pseudo-science to support the trans ideology. Scientific American has been going for over a century now, and has been one of the major magazines popularising science and explaining scientific discoveries and speculation to the mass of ordinary folks. I used to read it, on and off, along with New Scientist until I went off both c. 2007. That was when Dawkins wretched book, The God Delusion was published, and the New Atheists appeared to try and convince the public that religion was incompatible and fundamentally opposed to science. Real historians of science rejected it long ago, although they recognise that there have been periods of tension. The view that science and religion are opposed comes from the works of three men, one an academic at Harvard in the late 19th century. Against them are all the scientific discoveries made by people of faith down the centuries. For Christianity, I suggest James Hannam’s excellent book on medieval science, God’s Philosophers. As for mathematics, I’ve got a collection of early mathematical texts which I picked up from a secondhand bookshop. These texts go from the ancient Egyptians through Babylonia, ancient Greece, Rome, Judaism, China, Japan and India, as well as some of the great Muslim mathematicians. Many of them begin with a dedication by their authors to their God or gods. Unfortunately, the editors at New Scientist and Scientific American don’t share this view, and the editorial line became very atheist. So I simply stopped reading them. Unfortunately Scientific American’s scepticism hasn’t prevented it from publishing what I believe can only be described as pseudo-science in the name of promoting trans rights.

Brett Weinstein and his wife, Heather, biologists who oppose the postmodern pseudery now being promoted throughout academia and society, put up a video in which they tear to pieces an article published by the magazine which declared that western civilisation only believed in a single sex, the male, until about 1880. I think Matt Walsh has also made a video about it. It’s clearly nonsense, as the Weinstein’s show simply by stating the number of times men and women both appear in the Bible as evidence that people that long ago knew full well about the gender binary. The Weinsteins also point out that something can exist in nature long before it’s recognised by science. For example, the coatimundi was long considered to be two different species. There were the coatis, who were solitary animals, and the mundis, who were social and surrounded by their infants. Then biologists came to realise that the two species were actually just the two sexes of the same creature. The solitary animals were the males, while the social creatures with infants were the females. Brett Weinstein also points out that at one time people thought that the two sexes of the elephant seal were different species, simply because they looked so different from each other.

I think I know where the nonsense that western science didn’t recognise the gender binary until the late 19th century comes from. Postmodernism rejects empiricism and scientific examination and research in favour of discourse, examining what others have said about a particular issue. In the case of Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Postcolonial Theory and so on, this is done through the ideological lens of Marcel Foucault, in which ideology and discourse are functions of power relationships. For Queer Theorists, or at least those supporting trans rights, the scientific view that there are two biological sexes is a western, patriarchal construct intended to exclude trans people and so support White, heterosexual male dominance.

It seems to me, and I confess that I haven’t read the article, that the author has done this by basing their view on Aristotle. Aristotle, or at least the ancient Greeks, believed that the female body was merely an imperfect form of the male. This has rightly and understandably annoyed feminists ever since. But Aristotle and the other philosophers never denied that their were two sexes, male and female. And I am absolutely sure that the Renaissance anatomist, Andrea Fallopi, who discovered the fallopian tubes and the clitoris, and who named the vagina, knew what a woman was and that women and men were physiologically different.

I think the purpose behind the article has been to provide a scientific justification for transpeople being true members of the sex with which they identify or have transitioned. If the sexes are not distinct, then someone who believes themselves to be a member of the opposite sex, contrary to their biology, can still be seen scientifically as a member of the opposite sex.

Now I don’t deny that there are people, who believe that they are in the wrong body, and wish to conform as far as possible to the opposite sex. I also believe that such people deserve appropriate medical care and should have the same respect and freedom from abuse and discrimination as everyone else. But the sexes are still distinct biologically, and the denial that this is so is ideology, not science.

As for the Postmodernists denying the historical existence of something simply because it wasn’t recognised historically, a prime example of such thinking is in the Sokal and Bricmont book, Intellectual Impostures. This is a case in 1974 or -5 when French Egyptologists and doctors unwrapped the mummy of an Egyptian pharaoh. Examining his remains, they concluded that the man had died from tuberculosis. The Postmodernists, however, disagreed, because no such disease was known to the ancient Egyptians. Of course the fact that a disease wasn’t recognise, doesn’t not mean it didn’t exist. It only means that the people of the time didn’t know what it was.

I find it worrying that this article claiming that biological sex differences are only a recent invention has been published. There have been too many occasions in the past when ideology has been allowed to corrupt science. Examples include the racial, ‘Aryan’ science of the Nazis, and Lysenkoism in the USSR, based on the ideas of Stalin’s favourite scientist, Lysenko. Other examples of bad science include lobotomy operations to treat mental illness and monkey glands to rejuvenate men. This last involved implanting slices of monkey testicles into those of human men in order to make them become younger and more virile. In fact it resulted in the men taking this treatment developing syphilis, as the disease is endemic in the type of monkey from whom they took the bits of implanted gonad.

I am afraid that articles like this, and the pseudoscience they promote, will cause great harm, albeit with the best of intentions. There are at the moment a number of detransitioners suing the doctors who treated them and who recommended transition. They believe that they were deceived by them. I’ve no doubt that for some people suffering from the condition, surgical intervention may well be appropriate and necessary. But this must be proper physical and psychological tests.

The publication of such ideologically based pseudoscience threaten the proper treatment of those who suffer from the very condition such articles aim to help. And so they must be strenuously rejected.

Here’s the Weinsteins’ YouTube video: