"Reversing Sail” by Michael A. Gomez (Reading Notes - Ch. 1-2)
"Reversing Sail” by Michael A. Gomez (Reading Notes - Ch. 1-2) HIST 005
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Erika Ladd on Wednesday September 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 005 at Howard University taught by Neil Vaz in Spring 2015. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see Intro to Black Diaspora 1 in History at Howard University.
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Date Created: 09/14/16
Antiquity • American history scholars have always understood that the discussion of the African American experience must begin with a consideration of people and cultures and developments in Africa itself, before the rise of American slavery and transatlantic slave trade, to debilitate the notion that black folk, prior to their experiences in the Americas, had no history. • They found evidence of the potential and ability of black people in the achievements of antiquity. They found this in examples such as Egypt, Nubia, and Ethiopia as exemplars of black accomplishment and creativity. • These places have significantly influenced the unfolding of African American art, music, religion, politics, and societies. These places are important for two reasons: 1. It contextualizes the discussion of subsequent developments largely inaugurated with massive trades in African captives. Antiquity reminds us that Africans weren’t always under the heel but were in fact at the forefront of human civilization. 2. Antiquity reminds us that the African Diaspora did not begin with the slave trades. • Egypt was a world power that imposed its will on others, rather than the reverse. Egypt • Ancient Egypt exchanged goods and ideas with Sum as early as 3500 BCE, and by 1700 BCE it was connected with urban- based civilizations in the Indus valley, the Iranian plateau, and China. • Also, since it was in Africa, it was a global crossroad for various populations and cultures, its participation in this intercontinental zone a major feature of the African Diaspora’s opening chapter. • Race, as a concept didn’t exist back then. Our understanding of ancient Egypt is complicated by our own conversations about race, and by attempts to relate modern ideas to ancient times. • Ancient Egyptians were highly ethnocentric. Egypt and the South • During the Old and Middle Kingdoms, Egypt sought to militarily control Nubia and parts of Syria and Palestine. Under the New Kingdom, Egypt repeatedly invaded Palestine and Syria in its competition with Assyria and Babylon for control of the region. Africa was therefore a major foreign power in what would become the Middle East for thousands of years, years that were formative, in lands destined to become sacred for millions of people. • Egypt also relocated select Nubians to its capital at Thebes, where they got a formal, rare Egyptian education. Nubians learned the ways of Egypt, but their presence also led to the spread of Nubian culture in Egypt. Nubian Ascendency • None of Nubia’s former names refer to skin color. The three major Nubian kingdoms came later and are named after their capitals: Kerma, Napata, and Meroe. • The history of Napata features Egyptian and Nubian convergence. Under Napata’s leadership, the Nubians not only freed themselves of Egyptian domination but also turned and conquered Egypt. Their acceptance by the Egyptians was a clear reflection of the long familiarity of the Egyptian with the Nubian. • Assyria invaded Egypt in 674 BCE but was defeated. Three years later they were successful, driving the Nubians south where they eventually reestablished their capital at Meroe. Africans in the Graeco-Roman World • Most Africans, especially during the Roman period, entered the Mediterranean from both Egypt and Nubia. They also came from ares south of the Nile, North Africa, the southern fringes of the Sahara Desert, and West Africa proper. • Europeans didn’t equate blackness with inferiority. Blackness varied back then. Greeks and Romans admired Africans because of actual encountered and literature. Egyptians and Nubians had established literate, urban-based, technologically advanced civilizations long before there was a Rome, so there was every reason for African achievement to be praised and even emulated. • Africans also entered southern Europe. It was often for war, both for and against the Greeks and Romans. Nubians were a part of the Egyptian occupation of Cyprus under Amasia. • Africans enslaved in the Graeco-Roman world were only a small fraction of the total number of slaves in these territories. Enslaved Africans also only represented a portion of the overall African population living in southern Europe. In addition to fighting and entertaining the Romans, Africans also served in their armies. • Egyptian and Nubian religion was deeply influential throughout the Mediterranean world for many centuries if not millennia, especially the worship of Isis, adopted and worshipped in many places under several names. • The racial attitudes of the ancient Graeco-Roman world differed significantly from the contemporary West. Africans were seen and treated as equals. Their reception in southern Europe and the Near East underscores the power and prestige of the African realms and leaders as a factor that distinguishes this phase of the African Diaspora from what takes place much later.