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Old November 10th, 2017, 05:21 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Corvidius View Post
We can only tell if the religion of Egypt was influenced by another by knowing what the other was. The case in question is about if Egyptian religion was influenced by Black Africa.
The thread starter does not ask if "Egyptian religion was influenced by Black Africa" though, and some other posters have managed to give an answer to his actual question (which is different from what you seem to be characterizing it as) without touching on the issue of whether or not Egyptian religious practice was influenced by this or that particular Black African group.

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There is no documentation of any Black African religion until a writing system was introduced by Arabs and Europeans. They had an oral tradition, and does not leave anything concrete behind, all we have is what the current generation have passed down to them by the preceding one.
I think that you are assuming what needs to be proved though. Taking illiteracy as a sort of "axiom" to start with and then arguing from there is a common approach to sub-saharan Africa. I understand the reasoning behind that just fine and it's not necessarily crazy or irrational at all, but it is still, fundamentally, just an assumption. Using the same reasoning one could say that there weren't other things in sub-saharan Africa which we know actually existed. It seems like projecting the present into the past to me. Something like "There are no swordsmen in Senegal today, therefore swordsmen never existed in Senegal" or "There are no cavalry in Cameroon today, therefore cavalry never existed in Cameroon."

Once a cultural shift or a case of technological replacement with a more advanced system (in the case of certain sub-Saharan African groups, perhaps a more advanced form of writing imposed after conquest) occurs, and something is no longer needed, it can just die out. That doesn't mean it didn't exist.

So regarding, "they did not have any writing system in that region", I think it is easy to assume that now, after nearly everything has been destroyed or deteriorated, but even despite this there are traces of or references to writing systems existing in the past. The most obvious example being Nsibidi, of which one observer stated "The use of nsibidi is that of ordinary writing" (1909), and whose symbols are attested archaeologically since the 5th century AD, but there are a few other cases of references to writing besides Nsibidi.

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Any religious beliefs and customs that were related to outsiders to write down are simply an ending to the oral tradition as it then becomes a writen tradition, history, but before that point of writing something down it was still just an undocumented oral tradition from which nothing substantial can be extrapolated, not least from 5,000 years ago.
Well, to go back again to my previous reference to the Ashanti, they were finally conquered (completely, this time) in 1900. They did not somehow suddenly stop practicing their religion and believing their preexisting beliefs in the aftermath of that conquest. They were not Christians or Muslims. Their religious beliefs and practices could be documented by outsiders after their conquest and these were indeed documented. Actually, some of the religious beliefs of people in that same area of west Africa are described in some accounts from Europeans from centuries before that conquest.

It does not need to be proven what a particular group was doing 5,000 years ago unless one is arguing that some concept that showed up in Egypt came directly from that group, which does not seem to be what the thread topic is really asking about.
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Old November 10th, 2017, 05:45 AM   #32

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The topic is about similarities, but when in the OP I read "however these resemblance are really thought-provoking" I remind many other occasions when [also on Historum] I discussed theories and assumptions based on similarities.

It happens they are clues of something real, it happens they are mere coincidences.

In this case I see the mention of the religion of the Ashanti people, which I don't know [ignorance is a very good starting point].

Leaving, for the moment, a part the problem to prove that this traditional religion existed, as it is today, 5,000 years ago, I would be glad to compare the religion of Ancient Egypt [which I know in a sufficient way] with the one of the Ashanti people.

Who could we summarize it, underlining the main aspects?
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Old November 10th, 2017, 05:52 AM   #33
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At least right now, the main scientific consensus is that the out of Africa route was out of Dijibouti, not out of Egypt, and that the first North Africans were a backmigration of people from the Levant. Granted that this consensus keep changing- out of Egypt used to be the main Out of Africa theory and it is still the view held by a minority of scientists. (The evidence is probably about 75% for out of Dijibouti and 25% for out of Egypt.)

Out of Dijibouti is not a good theory for Afrocentric claims on Egypt. It would mean that humans were out of sub-Saharan Africa for a pretty long time before they reached Egypt, which would put some doubts into the idea of Egypt having sub-Saharan influence.
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Old November 10th, 2017, 06:01 AM   #34

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ighayere View Post
The thread starter does not ask if "Egyptian religion was influenced by Black Africa" though, and some other posters have managed to give an answer to his actual question (which is different from what you seem to be characterizing it as) without touching on the issue of whether or not Egyptian religious practice was influenced by this or that particular Black African group.

I think that you are assuming what needs to be proved though. Taking illiteracy as a sort of "axiom" to start with and then arguing from there is a common approach to sub-saharan Africa. I understand the reasoning behind that just fine and it's not necessarily crazy or irrational at all, but it is still, fundamentally, just an assumption. Using the same reasoning one could say that there weren't other things in sub-saharan Africa which we know actually existed. It seems like projecting the present into the past to me. Something like "There are no swordsmen in Senegal today, therefore swordsmen never existed in Senegal" or "There are no cavalry in Cameroon today, therefore cavalry never existed in Cameroon."

Once a cultural shift or a case of technological replacement with a more advanced system (in the case of certain sub-Saharan African groups, perhaps a more advanced form of writing imposed after conquest) occurs, and something is no longer needed, it can just die out. That doesn't mean it didn't exist.

So regarding, "they did not have any writing system in that region", I think it is easy to assume that now, after nearly everything has been destroyed or deteriorated, but even despite this there are traces of or references to writing systems existing in the past. The most obvious example being Nsibidi, of which one observer stated "The use of nsibidi is that of ordinary writing" (1909), and whose symbols are attested archaeologically since the 5th century AD, but there are a few other cases of references to writing besides Nsibidi.

Well, to go back again to my previous reference to the Ashanti, they were finally conquered (completely, this time) in 1900. They did not somehow suddenly stop practicing their religion and believing their preexisting beliefs in the aftermath of that conquest. They were not Christians or Muslims. Their religious beliefs and practices could be documented by outsiders after their conquest and these were indeed documented. Actually, some of the religious beliefs of people in that same area of west Africa are described in some accounts from Europeans from centuries before that conquest.

It does not need to be proven what a particular group was doing 5,000 years ago unless one is arguing that some concept that showed up in Egypt came directly from that group, which does not seem to be what the thread topic is really asking about.
The OP writes this
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I have to confess, that this fragment made me confused. I'd always before associated religion of Ancient Egypt rather with contemporary religions of Middle-East (Levant and Mesopotamia), than those of Black Africa.
This clearly indicates that they are using "Africa" in the sense of sub Saharan Africa. This is why I made my post asking how "Africa" should be determined as it is simply too broad a term, far broader than "European"

You are going into quite some contortions to get around the basic fact, the one that has been core to my posts, in that to show any Black African, okay, I'll expand, any external influence on Ancient Egyptian religion, then it must be shown what this religion, or religions were. This has not been done, and with cultures without writing it can never be done to any acceptable degree.

You are suggesting that as I am saying as there was no writing, then there was no religion in sub Saharan Africa?. This is simply not so and I have not written one single word to say there was no religion there. The fact is that without a written record we cannot know what their beliefs were until they had contact with people who could teach them to write, and that has only happened in the last few centuries, Nubia apart, and for the purposes of the OP we need to go back at least 5,000 years. You can write until the cows come home about the Ashanti or anybody else, but you cannot move this back more than 5,000 years, and that is the entire point.

Is there anything at all that shows any external influence on the beginnings of Ancient Egyptian religion, anything beyond what people do anywhere else and is common. Their religion does not spring from a few cow horn cores, all that is evidence of is of cows, and horns, and people dying and being buried with said horns. Any names of gods from these horns?, any beliefs?, anything of any substance?, whether from Nubia, the Dogon, Mesopotamia or the Moon to show external influence.

Last edited by Corvidius; November 10th, 2017 at 06:04 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2017, 06:04 AM   #35

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From an artistic standpoint, much of their art looks heavily influenced or has very similar stylistic tendencies to other African art. I think the Egyptians were a mixed lot of folks, grotesque caricaturizations in their art aside. And if you took an ancient Egyptian waaay down south in America, how do you think they would be viewed. Heck, now? Some mummies look very "indigenous" to me. . Same with their tendency to fetishize. Magic too was probably similar.
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Old November 10th, 2017, 06:51 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corvidius View Post
The OP writes this

This clearly indicates that they are using "Africa" in the sense of sub Saharan Africa. This is why I made my post asking how "Africa" should be determined as it is simply too broad a term, far broader than "European"




You are going into quite some contortions to get around the basic fact, the one that has been core to my posts, in that to show any Black African, okay, I'll expand, any external influence on Ancient Egyptian religion, then it must be shown what this religion, or religions were.
I re-read the opening post. He really does seem to be asking whether or not some ancient religious substratum existed which resulted in supposed similarities in religion between parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Egypt, rather than arguing for some specific influence of specific Black African cultures on Egypt within historical times.

I think that what is implicit in his post is actually the absence of contact (between Egypt and places in sub-Saharan Africa where he thinks certain religious similarities with Egypt may exist) within historical times. He seems to be asking if the similarities that he or others have seen could be explained by some very ancient religious practices being commonly shared between the ancestors of two groups before historical times (rather than being explained by external influence of one group upon the other within historical times).

That is the way I interpreted it. I got something completely different than you did out of the opening post, so at this point, it may just be up to the thread starter to elaborate on what he meant.

Quote:
This has not been done, and with cultures without writing it can never be done to any acceptable degree.
I suspect that the thread starter is not arguing for external influence, and Nicolas Grimal probably is not either.

Quote:
You are suggesting that as I am saying as there was no writing, then there was no religion in sub Saharan Africa?. This is simply not so and I have not written one single word to say there was no religion there.
I did not suggest that you basically said that "no writing systems, so no religion". Maybe I wrote what I wrote in a way that was unclear, but that wasn't what I was saying.

I actually just questioned the claim of "no writing system" in and of itself, which I don't agree with.

Quote:
The fact is that without a written record we cannot know what their beliefs were until they had contact with people who could teach them to write, and that has only happened in the last few centuries, Nubia apart, and for the purposes of the OP we need to go back at least 5,000 years. You can write until the cows come home about the Ashanti or anybody else, but you cannot move this back more than 5,000 years, and that is the entire point.
I think you did miss my real point if you are still talking about a 5,000 year record.

Maybe an analogy to another case will help. There is not a 5,000 year written record of "Indo-European" religions, but certain people have theorized very seriously about apparent parallels in the religious beliefs between different "Indo-European" groups, without assuming that there has to be a (readable/decipherable) written record dating back 5,000 years for each European pagan group or each Central Asian or South Asian group in order to analyze such alleged parallels in their religious beliefs. If one of these theorists claims that there are parallels between ancient Greek and ancient Indian religious beliefs it does not automatically mean that this person is arguing that ancient Greeks influenced ancient Indian religion or that ancient Indians influenced ancient Greek religion.

I think one would only need to insist that there exist two sets of written records, existing pari passu through time, for each regional/cultural group (in this example, Greeks and Indians, but other groups could be considered) describing each group's religious beliefs, if one is seriously considering the possibility of religious influence of one group upon the other when analyzing similarities. If one is not making that consideration, then it isn't really necessary.
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Old November 10th, 2017, 07:07 AM   #37
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This is an issue of some complexity. Since ancient Egypt was part of what could be termed the cultural Near East, its religion was inevitably a part of that wider cultural fabric. However, except for certain aspects, such as sun worship, the religion of ancient Egypt bore relatively little in common with its other Near Eastern counterparts. Take the concept of an afterlife for instance. In Egypt, during the Old Kingdom, access to a celestial afterlife was a right generally associated with the solar cult and was exclusively a royal prerogative. Now, the king could certainly through his divine grace allow certain favored subjects access into his celestial afterlife. However, in practice the kings of this period generally restricted this act of eternal beneficence to members of the royal family, favored court officials, and workmen who participated in royal tomb construction. This is not to say that commoners did not have some concept of an afterlife for themselves. However, the afterlife during the Old Kingdom for the common people was generally restricted to the tomb and its general vicinity. It was necessary to provide the food and drink offerings at the mortuary chapel of the private tomb itself in order for the deceased commoner to continue to exist in the afterlife. In marked contrast, the king through the medium of the pyramid, became a fully divine being known as an akh, and was associated with the creator deity Atum and the god of the afterlife Osiris, just as he was associated with Horus during his life.

Beginning with the Middle Kingdom, there was a gradual process that James Breasted referred to as "the democratization of the afterlife." While the king still held preeminence throughout Egyptian antiquity, noblemen were now also entitled to a celestial afterlife, and were even permitted to have copies of the Coffin Texts in their tombs. The Coffin Texts represented the latest stage of Egyptian mortuary mythology, and were derived from the earlier Pyramid Texts, or which only the king was allowed access. Though during the reign of Pepi II, queens were also buried with Pyramid Texts which I believe was an innovation of this particular ruler.

Finally, during the New Kingdom, all Egyptian were entitled to a fully corporeal afterlife, not just the upper classes.

Contrast this with ancient Mesopotamia, where there was only the most rudimentary conception of an afterlife for both kings and commoners alike. The best one could hope for, was an ethereal existence as a shade in the underworld. Hardly an event to look forward to or to celebrate. Whereas in Egypt the king was held to be fully divine, the living incarnation of the god Horus, in Sumeria other Mesopotamian polities, the king was held to be the representative of the gods. This is the difference between divine and sacral kingship. Mesopotamian kingship, without sounding too anachronistic, had more in common with medieval European kingship that with its contemporary Egyptian counterpart.

Since Egypt was part of the cultural Near East, its religion could not in any way be termed African. And by African I mean sub-Saharan Africa, since North Africa was and is part of the cultural Near East. Any similarities between the religions of ancient Egypt and the African polities of Nubia, Aethiopia, and other sub-Saharan kingdoms was the result of Egyptian influence spreading south through the trade routes which Egypt controlled, and through military conquest.

Thus I would argue that the ancient Egyptian religion could best be described as a localized and indigenous development formed within the confines of the Nile Valley under Egyptian dominion. However, since ancient Egypt was part of the cultural Near East, its religion should also be viewed as part of that larger cultural framework, albeit a unique one.

Last edited by Lord Harry; November 10th, 2017 at 07:14 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2017, 07:30 AM   #38

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Originally Posted by Ighayere View Post
I re-read the opening post. He really does seem to be asking whether or not some ancient religious substratum existed which resulted in supposed similarities in religion between parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Egypt, rather than arguing for some specific influence of specific Black African cultures on Egypt within historical times.

I think that what is implicit in his post is actually the absence of contact (between Egypt and places in sub-Saharan Africa where he thinks certain religious similarities with Egypt may exist) within historical times. He seems to be asking if the similarities that he or others have seen could be explained by some very ancient religious practices being commonly shared between the ancestors of two groups before historical times (rather than being explained by external influence of one group upon the other within historical times).

That is the way I interpreted it. I got something completely different than you did out of the opening post, so at this point, it may just be up to the thread starter to elaborate on what he meant.

I suspect that the thread starter is not arguing for external influence, and Nicolas Grimal probably is not either.

I did not suggest that you basically said that "no writing systems, so no religion". Maybe I wrote what I wrote in a way that was unclear, but that wasn't what I was saying.

I actually just questioned the claim of "no writing system" in and of itself, which I don't agree with.

I think you did miss my real point if you are still talking about a 5,000 year record.

Maybe an analogy to another case will help. There is not a 5,000 year written record of "Indo-European" religions, but certain people have theorized very seriously about apparent parallels in the religious beliefs between different "Indo-European" groups, without assuming that there has to be a (readable/decipherable) written record dating back 5,000 years for each European pagan group or each Central Asian or South Asian group in order to analyze such alleged parallels in their religious beliefs. If one of these theorists claims that there are parallels between ancient Greek and ancient Indian religious beliefs it does not automatically mean that this person is arguing that ancient Greeks influenced ancient Indian religion or that ancient Indians influenced ancient Greek religion.

I think one would only need to insist that there exist two sets of written records, existing pari passu through time, for each regional/cultural group (in this example, Greeks and Indians, but other groups could be considered) describing each group's religious beliefs, if one is seriously considering the possibility of religious influence of one group upon the other when analyzing similarities. If one is not making that consideration, then it isn't really necessary.
I would really really like to see any evidence of a native writing system in sub Saharan Africa, let alone one that predates hieroglyphs and could show a religion that could be seen as an influence on Egypt.

What do we know about Stonehenge?. We can guess how it was built, we can see how it is aligned, we can even see that at least one person who visited Stonehenge while it was in use came from what is now Switzerland as they died and were buried at Stonehenge. We can see they did a lot of feasting, that they had a processional way, that it's main use may have been at the Winter solstice and not the summer as previously thought. But what we do not know and can never know is what their religion was, what their beliefs were, the name of even one god, and that is because they had no writing system, and there was no writing system in Britain until the Romans, and by then nobody knew what Stonehenge was for as it was already so old. Religions change, and an oral system does not hold down millenia.

There are many things that we do not know about the pyramids, why? because they didn't write down those things even when they had the ability. So when we struggle badly with the very well researched Stonehenge, and struggle somewhat with the pyramids, how can we know anything meaningful about any religion if nothing is written about it, if nothing meaningful exists anymore.

I'm banging on about 5,000 years because the contention is that Ancient Egyptian religion was, or could have been, influenced at it's inception. This could only happen more than 5,000 years ago, not later, as we can see a progression in their religion from at least the Narmer palette until it's collapse with the introduction of Christianity.

No matter what evidence, or "evidence" is put forward, if it is said to have influenced Ancient Egypt yet does not predate Ancient Egypt, then it is vapor. We cannot look at what is in sub Saharan Africa now, or even 500 or a thousand years ago, and from that extrapolate that it influenced Ancient Egypt, it is putting the cart before the horse.

Last edited by Corvidius; November 10th, 2017 at 07:38 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2017, 07:39 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
The topic is about similarities, but when in the OP I read "however these resemblance are really thought-provoking" I remind many other occasions when [also on Historum] I discussed theories and assumptions based on similarities.

It happens they are clues of something real, it happens they are mere coincidences.

In this case I see the mention of the religion of the Ashanti people, which I don't know [ignorance is a very good starting point].

Leaving, for the moment, a part the problem to prove that this traditional religion existed, as it is today, 5,000 years ago, I would be glad to compare the religion of Ancient Egypt [which I know in a sufficient way] with the one of the Ashanti people.

Who could we summarize it, underlining the main aspects?
The religious beliefs are a bit complex. I don't think I could summarize them well. Unfortunately the book I referenced earlier by Rattray is not online, otherwise I would provide a link to it.

In lieu of that here is a link to a book on west African religion in general, which although a bit dated and somewhat limited in the number of groups it discusses, does discuss the Ashanti specifically:

https://books.google.com/books?id=UA...shanti&f=false

There is a book by Eva Meyerowitz comparing the religious beliefs of the Akan peoples (of which the Ashanti are a subgroup) to those of Egypt which is online:

https://www.scribd.com/document/2035...Eva-Meyerowitz

She also made some comparisons to other North African groups in her book The Sacred State of the Akan, which isn't online.

Meyerowitz's work was criticized by other scholars, and with good reason in my opinion. She often reaches/stretches her information to find similarities and parallels without evidence or real proof of any kind, and her beliefs about the origin of the Akan cultures don't have any support/evidence. But you might find the book in the scribd link interesting anyway.

These are just two of the criticisms of her work, which I include basically as a caveat to reading her work. The first one also contains some information about Akan religious beliefs:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/1156919...n_tab_contents

https://www.jstor.org/stable/1157500...n_tab_contents

Last edited by Ighayere; November 10th, 2017 at 07:43 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2017, 07:41 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Corvidius View Post
I would really really like to see any evidence of a native writing system in sub Saharan Africa, let alone one that predates hieroglyphs and could show a religion that could be seen as an influence on Egypt.
I haven't argued for the existence of a writing system in sub-Saharan Africa that predates Egyptian hieroglyphs, nor have I even argued for the existence of "a specific religion in sub-Saharan Africa that could be seen as an influence on Egypt". I think that if you are just going to ignore what I actually write I probably should not continue further.

Last edited by Ighayere; November 10th, 2017 at 07:47 AM.
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