Synopses & Reviews
What is classical about Classical civilization? In one of the most audacious works of scholarship ever written, Martin Bernal challenges the whole basis of our thinking about this question. Classical civilization, he argues, has deep roots in Afroasiatic cultures. But these Afroasiatic influences have been systematically ignored, denied or suppressed since the eighteenth century - chiefly for racist reasons.
This volume is the second in a projected four-part series concerned with the competition between two historical models for the origins of Greek civilization. The model current today is the Aryan Model, according to which Greek culture arose as the result of the conquest from the north by Indo-European speakers or "Aryans" of the native "pre-Hellenes." The Ancient Model, which was the model maintained in Classical Greece, held that the native population of Greece had initially been civilized by Egyptian and Phoenician colonists and that more Near Eastern culture had been introduced to Greece by Greeks studying in Egypt and Southwest Asia. In these and later volumes, Martin Bernal proposes a Revised Ancient Model. According to this, the Indo-European aspects of Greek language and culture should be recognized as fundamental and the considerable non-Indo-European elements should be seen largely as Egyptian and Levantine additions to this basis.
Volume II is concerned with the archaeological and documentary evidence for contacts between Egypt and the Levant on the one hand and the Aegean on the other, during the Bronze Age from c. 3400 B.C. to c. 1100 B.C. These approaches are supplemented by information from later Greek myths, legends, religious cults, and language. The author concludes that contact between the two regions was far more extensive and influential than is generally believed. In the introduction to this volume, Bernal also responds to some reviews and criticisms of Volume I of Black Athena.
Martin Bernal is Professor of Government at Cornell University.
Table of Contents
v. 1. The fabrication of ancient Greece, 1785-1985 --v. 2. The archaeological and documentary evidence.