Africa: Where Did the Name Come From?

tjadams

Ad Honoris
Mar 2009
25,362
Texas
#1
I had a student ask me last week where the name "Africa" came from.
He said he saw a painting about a man named Scipio Africanus and he
started thinking about the name Africa. He asked me and I told him
"I don't know, but I bet I can get a good answer."
I have to go back to work Monday and I'd like an answer for him.

Q. "Where did the name Africa come from?"...........thanks.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#2
From what I read, the Romans called the Carthingians "Afri", and so naturally the land the that the Carthigians lived in became Africa terra, land of the Afri. Originally the term Africa terra was applied only to north Africa, but eventually it became applied to the whole continent.

Now where the name Afri (Afer singular) came from is debatable. Some say there was a Berber tribe named the Afri, others that the Phoencian word for dust Afer,. The Greek word aphrike, = without cold, has also been proposed, as has the Roman word apric = sunny. Take your pick.

Or just tell your student that the Romans referred to the Carthingians as the Afri,, and that the land they lived in, North Africa, became Africa terra, land of the Afri, and leave it at that.
 

Zeno

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
13,691
♪♬ ♫♪♩
#4
There's also the hypothesis that it has a much older Egyptian root. The name of pharao Khafre (ruled from 2558-2532 BC), known from the second largest pyramid can also be read as Afre-Kh.
Also this one:

Massey, in 1881, derived an etymology from the Egyptian af-rui-ka, "to turn toward the opening of the Ka." The Ka is the energetic double of every person and "opening of the Ka" refers to a womb or birthplace. Africa would be, for the Egyptians, "the birthplace."
Africa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I'm starting to favour the Eyptian origin, as the "dust" origin doesn't make much sense imo. The land around Carthage wasn't dusty and dry... It was fertile and green and the Africa province would become the grainbasket of Rome from its conquest in the 3rd Punic war until the Vadals took over the region in the 5th century.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,214
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#5
The Egyptian origin is also my choice.

But it needs a clarification: in ancient times Egypt [Kmt, this is how Egyptian called their own land] was considered part of Asia. It was later that Sinai begun to represent a borderline between two continents. So that, having to give a name to the Western continent, they started from an Egyptian name.

A note: on the net you will meet the explanation that Africa comes from "afru-ika" [something meaning "motherland"]. Personally I would like to see the hieroglyphs before of expressing a definitive opinion, but at first sight I don't accept that hypothesis.
 

beorna

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
17,473
-
#6
I don't know, perhaps it is related with the Afar people and the afar region, which wouldn't contradict to an egypt "origin" of the term Afrika.

BTW, I saw these picture on wiki, which remind me to our discussion whether Egyptians are tropical, black Africans. Here the picture of an Afar man, not really negride, isn't it?
 
Mar 2013
59
middle kingdom
#9
I don't know, perhaps it is related with the Afar people and the afar region, which wouldn't contradict to an egypt "origin" of the term Afrika.

BTW, I saw these picture on wiki, which remind me to our discussion whether Egyptians are tropical, black Africans. Here the picture of an Afar man, not really negride, isn't it?
Afar's are an Afro-Asiatic people like Egyptians. They are an Cushtitic people like Somalis.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,214
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#10
About timing, it's important to remind that the name "Africa" was given to the entire continent only in the Middle Age.

Still in Roman age the Northern Africa was Libya and Aegyptus [which still in Hellenic age was considered part of Asia, remember Plato with his Libya plus Asia ...].

A point in favor of the theory of the connection with the area of Carthage is that Romans called the sector of sea between Sicily and Tunisia "Mare Africum" [with a reference to the Afri, plural of Afer].