In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Egypt: origin of the Greek culture

Posted by seumasach on January 1, 2010

For centuries, scholars have identified the Greek culture as the source of the western civilisation. But what if the Greek culture itself was a legacy – a colony – of the ancient Egyptians?

Philip Coppens

Schools still teach that the Western civilisation is a child of Greece. Until a few decades ago, many schools did not mention the cultural achievements of Egypt or Sumer – and many schools in Europe still pay no attention to the Inca’s, Toltecs, etc. But when it comes to the Greek and Egyptian civilisations, it was made painfully clear that the Egyptian civilisation was “primitive” when compared to the cultural and specifically philosophical achievements of the Greeks.

This situation is now slowly beginning to change, though the chasm between the Greek and Egyptian culture remains. Though geographically both countries are close to each other, and whereas many Greeks would later travel to Egypt, it is assumed that the Egyptians, a civilisation that predates the Greek civilisation by two millennia, never used that time to sail in the opposite direction. Though the ancient Egyptians had seaworthy boats – e.g. the funerary boat in the boatpit on the Gizeh plateau – the status quo is that they never sailed the Mediterranean Seas to Greece.

Richard Poe in “Black Spark, White Fire” argues that the assumption that the ancient Egyptians did not sail across the Mediterranean Sea is a carefully constructed scientific myth. Evidence that the ancient Egyptians did just that is similar to the volume of evidence that the Phoenicians and Minoans sailed that sea. Scientists willingly accept those cultures’ seafaring capability, yet illogically limit the ancient Egyptians’ capability to do the same.
Still, there is powerful evidence to show that the Egyptians did venture beyond the Nile. It is also known that they possessed a large fleet. And Thor Heyerdahl showed that even their “primitive boats” were able to master the currents of the oceans – thus very well equipped to master the much calmer waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

The same veil of ignorance is maintained when it comes to philosophy. Both Plato and Pythagoras, identified as icons of Greek philosophy, stated that they and other great Greek philosophers had studied and learned that knowledge in Egypt. Many had studied many years at Egyptian schools, to return to Greece as the “first philosophers”.

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One Response to “Egypt: origin of the Greek culture”

  1. It’s worth reading the exhaustive study of this subject by Martin Bernal, especially Vol 2 of “Black Athena” (736 pages) subtitled “The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilisation”. Published in 1991 by Rutgers University Press, a review in Newsweek that year was titled ‘Did the West Begin on the Nile’s Bank?’, subtitled ‘A scholar relocates the roots of ancient Greece’. Such great research from the past has still to make an impact, so it’s good to bring the issue into focus again.

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