International Journal of Anthropology

, Volume 10, Issue 2–3, pp 107–123 | Cite as

A brief review of studies and comments on ancient Egyptian biological relationships

  • S. O. Y. Keita


A review of studies covering the biological relationship of the ancient Egyptians was undertaken. An overview of the data from the studies suggests that the major biological affinities of early southern Egyptians lay with tropical Africans. The range of indigenous tropical African phenotypes is great; and this range of variation must be considered in any discussion of the Nile Valley peoples. The early southern Egyptians belonged primarily to an African descent group which gained some Near Eastern affinity through gene flow with the passage of time.

Key words

Egyptian predynastic metric non-metric morphological 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature cited

  1. Anderson J.E., 1968. Late paleolithic skeletal remains from Nubia. In Wendorf F. (ed):The Prehistory of Nubia. Dallas: Fort Bugwin Research Centre and Southern Methodist Univer.Press, pp. 996–1040.Google Scholar
  2. Angel L. and Kelly J., 1986. Description and comparison of the skeleton. In Wendorf F and Schild R (ed):The Wadi Kubbaniya Skeleton. Dallas Southern Methodist Univer. Press.Google Scholar
  3. Angel J.L., 1971.The People of Lerna. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  4. Angel J.L., 1972. Biological relationships of Egyptian and eastern Mediterranean populations during predynastic times.J. Hum. Evol., 1:307–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arkell A.J. and Ucko P., 1965. A review of predynastic development in the Nile Valley.Curr. Anthropol. 6:145–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Afkell A.J., 1975.The Prehistory of the Nile Valley. Handbuch der Orientalisk, 1. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  7. Arnett, 1982.The Predynastic Origins of Hieroglyphs. Washington, D.C.: Univer, Press of America.Google Scholar
  8. Bar Yosef O., 1987. Pleistocene connexions between Africa and Southwest Asia.The Afr. Arch. Rev. 5:29–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Batrawi A.M., 1935.Report on the Human Remains. Service Les Antiquités de l'Egypte, Mission Archéologique de Nubie. Cairo.Google Scholar
  10. Batrawi A.M., 1945. The racial history of Egypt and Nubia, Part I.J. Roy. Anthro. Inst., 75:81–102.Google Scholar
  11. Batrawi A.M., 1946. The racial history of Egypt and Nubia, Part II.J. Roy. Anthro. Inst., 76:131–156.Google Scholar
  12. Bennett K.A., 1969. The typological versus the evolutionary approach in skeletal population studies.Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 30:407–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bernal M., 1987. What colour were the ancient Egyptians? InBlack Athena, pp. 24245. London: Free Association Books.Google Scholar
  14. Berry A.C. and Berry R.J., 1967. Epigenetic variation in the human cranium.Journal of Anatomy, 101: 361–379.Google Scholar
  15. Berry A.C., Berry R.J. and Ucko P.J., 1967. Genetical change in ancient Egypt.Man 2: 551–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Berry A.C. and Berry R.J., 1972. Origins and relationships of the ancient Egyptians.J. Hum. Evol. 1: 199–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bohannon P., 1964.Africa and Africans. Garden City: Natural History Press.Google Scholar
  18. Brace C.L., 1863.The Races of the Old World. New York: Charles Scribner.Google Scholar
  19. Brauer G., 1976. Morphological and multhariate analysis of human skeletons from Iron Age graves northeast of Lake Eyasi (Tanzania).Homo 27:185–765.Google Scholar
  20. Brauer G., 1980. Human skeletal remains from Mumba Rock Shelter, Northern Tanzania.AJPA 52:71–84.Google Scholar
  21. Breasted W., 1908.A History of the Ancient Egyptians. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.Google Scholar
  22. Briggs L.C., 1955.The Stone Age Races of Northwest Africa. Bulletin 18. American School of Prehistoric Research. Cambridge: The Peabody Museum, harvard Univer.Google Scholar
  23. British Museum, 1930.General Introductory Guide to the Egyptian Collections in the British Museum. London: Harrison and Sons, Ltd.Google Scholar
  24. Brown W. and Wilson E.O., 1954. The case against the trinomen.Syst. Zool. 3:174–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Cavalli-Sforza L., 1991. Genes, peoples and languages,Sci. Amer. 265(5):104–110.Google Scholar
  26. Chamla M-C., 1968.Les populations anciennes du Sahara et des regions limitrophes. Memoirs de Recherches Anthropologiques Prehistoriques et Ethnographiques. No IX. Paris: Arts et Metiers Graphiques.Google Scholar
  27. Childe V.G., 1953.New Light on the Most Ancient East. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  28. Coon C., 1939.The Races of Europe. New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  29. Coon C., Gran S.M. and Birdsell J., 1950. Races: A study of the problems of race formation in man. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  30. Crichton J.M., 1966. A multiple discriminant analysis of the Egyptian and African negro crania.Papers Peabody Mus. Arch. Ethnol., 57:45–67.Google Scholar
  31. Derry D., 1956. The dynastic race in Egypt.Jour. of Egypt, Arch, 21:80–85.Google Scholar
  32. Diop C.A., 1974. The Egyptian race as seen and treated by anthropologists. InThe African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality? Bridgeport: Lawrence Hill.Google Scholar
  33. Dixon R., 1923.The Racial History of Man. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.Google Scholar
  34. Drake S., 1987.Black Folk Here and There. An Essay in History and Anthropology. Volume I. Los Angeles: Univer. of California.Google Scholar
  35. Falkenburger F., 1947. La composition raciale de L'Ancienne Egypt.L'Anthropologie 51:239–250.Google Scholar
  36. Fawcett C.D. and Lee A., 1902. A second study of the variation and correlation of the human skull, with special reference to the Nagada crania.Biometrika 1:408–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Finkel D., 1978. Spatial and temporal dimensions of middle esatern skeletal populations.J. Hum.Evol. 7:217–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Frankfort H., 1949. The ancient Egyptians and the Hamites.Man 2(130):95–96.Google Scholar
  39. Gabel C., 1966. Prehistoric populations in Africa. InBoston Univer. Papers on Africa. Volume II. African History. Edited by Butler, Jeffrey. Boston: Boston Univer. Press.Google Scholar
  40. Gates R., 1948.Human Ancestry. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  41. Gilman A., 1982.On Blackness Without Blacks: Essays on the Image of the Black in Germany. Boston: Boston Univer.Google Scholar
  42. Giuffrida-Ruggeri V., 1915. Were the predynastic Egyptians Libyans or Ethiopians?Man 15:51–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Giuffrida-Ruggeri V., 1916. A few notes on the neolithic Egyptians and the Ethiopians.Man 16:87–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Giuffrida-Ruggeri V., 1922. The actual state of the question of the most ancient populations.Harvard Afr. Studies 3:3–7.Google Scholar
  45. Gould S., 1987. Petrus Camper's angle …Natural History Magazine. July:12–18.Google Scholar
  46. Greene D.L., 1972. Dental anthropology of early Egypt and Nubia.J. of Hum. Evol. 1:315–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Greene D.L., 198. A critique of methods used to reconstruct racial and population affinity in the Nile Valley.Bull. et Mem. de la Soc. d'Anthr. de Paris XIII(8):357–365.Google Scholar
  48. Haddon A.C., 1912, 1984.The Wanderings of Peoples. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press; Washington, D.C. Cliveden Press.Google Scholar
  49. Haddon A.C., 1925.The Races of Man. New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
  50. Harris J. and Weeks K., 1973.X-Raying the Pharaohs. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.Google Scholar
  51. Hassan F.A., 1988. The predynastic of Egypt.J. World Prehist. 2:135–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Hayes W.C., 1965.Most ancient Egypt. Chicago: Univer. of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  53. de Heinzelin J., 1962. Ishango.Scientific American 206(6):105–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Henneberg M., Piontek J. and Strzaldo J., 1980. Biometrical analysis of the early Neolithic human mandible from Nabta Playa (Western Desert of Egypt). In Wendorf F. and Schild R. (eds).Preshistory of the Eastern Sahara. New York: Academic Press, pp. 389–392.Google Scholar
  55. Hillson S.W., 1978.Human biological variation in the Nile Valley, in relation to enironmental factors. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Univer. of London.Google Scholar
  56. Holmes D.L., 1989. The predynastic lithic industries of Upper Egypt. Cambridge monographs inAfrican Archaeology 33. BAR International Series 469. Parts I and II.Google Scholar
  57. Hooton E.A., 1932.Up from the Ape. Cambridge: Harvard.Google Scholar
  58. Howells W.W., 1973. Cranial variation in man.Papers of the Peabody Museum 67:1–269.Google Scholar
  59. Irish J. and Turner C., 1990. West African dental affinity of late Pleistocene Nubians.Homo 41(1): 42–53.Google Scholar
  60. Junker H., 1921. The first appearance of the Negroes in history.J. Egypt. Arch. 7:121–132.Google Scholar
  61. Karageorghis V., 1988.Blacks in Ancient Cypriot Art. Houston: Menil.Google Scholar
  62. Keita S.O.Y., 1988. An analysis of crania from Tell Duweir using multiple discriminant functions.Am. J. Phys. Anthro. 75:375–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Keita S.O.Y., 1990. Studies of ancient crania from northern Africa.Am. J. Phys. Anthro., 85:35–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Keita S.O.Y., 1992. Further studies of ancient northern African crania …Am. J. Phys. Anthro. In Press.Google Scholar
  65. Krogman W.M., 1937. Cranial types from Alishar Huyuk. In van der Osten H.H. (ed).The Alishar Huyukl Seasons of 1930–32, Part III. Oriental Inst. Publ. 30:213–293.Google Scholar
  66. MacGaffey W., 1966. Conept of race in the historiography of northeast Africa.J. Afr. Hist. 7:1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. MacIver D.R., 1901.The Earliest Inhabitants of Abydos. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  68. Morant G., 1925. A study of Egyptian craniology from prehistoric to Roman times.Biometrika 17:1–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Morant G., 1935. A study of predynastic Egyptian skulls of Badari.Biometrika 27:293–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Morant G., 1937. The predynastic Egyptian skulls from Badari and their racial affinities. In Brunton G. (ed),Mostagadda and the Tasian Culture, pp. 63–66. London: Quaritch.Google Scholar
  71. Montet P., 1965.Eternal Egypt. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.Google Scholar
  72. Morton S.G., 1844.Crania A Egyptiaca. Trans. of the Arner. Phil. Soc. Vol. IX. Philadelphia: John Pennington.Google Scholar
  73. Mulcherjee R., Rao C. and Trevor J.C., 1955.The Ancient Inhabitants of Jebel Moya (Sudan). Cambridge: Cambridge Univer. Press.Google Scholar
  74. Musgrave J.H. and Evans S.P., 1980. By Strangers Honored: A statistical study of ancient crania from Crete, Mainland Greece, Isreal and Egypt.J. Mediterranean Anthropology and Archaeology 1:50–107.Google Scholar
  75. Nielson O.V., 1970.Human remains: Metrical and non-metrical anatomical variations. Copenhagen: Scandinavian Joint Experidition to Sudanese Nubia. Vol. 9.Google Scholar
  76. Nott J. and Gliddon G., 1854. Egypt and Egyptians (Chapter VII). InTypes of Mankind. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Company.Google Scholar
  77. Nutter M.C., 1958.An Osteological Study of the Hominoidea. Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation, Cambridge Univer.Google Scholar
  78. O'Connor D., 1971. Ancient Egypt and Black Africa — early contacts.Expedition 14:2–9.Google Scholar
  79. Paoli G., 1972. Further biochemical and immunological investigations on early Egyptian remains.J. of Hum. Evol. 1:457–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Pearson K., Jacob S., Lee A., Myers C.S. and Von Torok A., 1902–3. Craniological notes.Biometrika 2:339–347, 504–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Peschel O., 1888.The Races of Man. New York: Appleton and Company.Google Scholar
  82. Petit-Mair N. and Dutour O., 1987. Holocene populations of the Western and Southern Sahara: Mechtoids and paleoclimates. In Wendorf F. and Close A. (eds),Prehistory of Arid North Africa, Dallas: Southern Methodist.Google Scholar
  83. Petrie W.M.F., 1906. Migrations.Jour. Roy. Anth. Institute 36:189–223.Google Scholar
  84. Petrie W.M.F., 1939.The Making of Egypt. London: Sheldon Press.Google Scholar
  85. Robertson J.H., 1978. On the presence of the Negro in the Nile Valley.Curr. Anthro. 19(1):177–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Robertson J.H. and Bradley R., 1979. On skeletal analysis and the race concept.Curr. Anthro. 20(4): 414–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Robins and Shute, 1983. The physical proportions and living stature of New Kingdom pharoahs.J. Hum. Evol. 12:455–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Robins and Shute, 1986. Predynastic Egyptian stature and physical proportions.J. Hum. Evol. 1(4):313–324.Google Scholar
  89. Ruffer A., 1920. Study of Abnormalities and pathology of ancient Egyptian teeth.AJPA OS. 3:335–382.Google Scholar
  90. Schepartz L.A., 1987. Who were the later Pleistocene Eastern Africans?Afr. Arch. Rev. 6:57–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Seligman C., 1930. 1966.The Races of Africa. London: Oxford Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  92. Smith G.E., 1909. Anatomical Report Egyptian Surv.Dept. Arch. Surv. Nubia. Bull. 4:19–21.Google Scholar
  93. Smith G.E. and Derry D., 1910. Anatomical report.Arch. Surv. Nubia Bull 6:9–30.Google Scholar
  94. Smith G.E., 1916. The influence of racial admixture in Egypt.The Eugenics Review 7:163–183.Google Scholar
  95. Stewart T.D., 1985. Preliminary report on an early human burial in the Wadi Kubbaniya Egypt. In Tobias P. (ed),Hominid Evolution: Past, Present and Future, pp. 335–340. New York: Alan R. Liss.Google Scholar
  96. Stoessiger B.N., 1927. A study of the Badarian crania recently excavated by the British School of Archaeology in Egypt.Biometrika 19:110–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Strouhal E., 1968. Use contribution a la question du caractere de la population prehistorique de la haute-Eypte.Anthropologie 6:19–22.Google Scholar
  98. Strouhal E., 1971. Evidenee of the early penetration of negroes into prehistoric Egypt.Jour. Afr. Hist. 12:1–9.Google Scholar
  99. Strouhal E., 1981. Current state of anthropological studies of ancient Egypt and Nubia.Bull. et Mem. de la Soc. d'Anth. de Paris XIII (8):231–249.Google Scholar
  100. Strouhal E., 1984. Craniometrie analysis of the late paleolithic population of the Wadi Halfa region (Lower Nubia). In:Orin and Early Development of Food-Producing Cultures in Northeastern Africa. Poznan: Polish Academy of Seience.Google Scholar
  101. Strouhal E. and Jungwirth J., 1979. Paleogenetics of the late Roman-early Byzantine cemeteries at Sayala, Egyptian Nubia.J. Hum. Evol., 8:699–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Thoma A., 1984. Morphology and affinities of the Nazlet Khater man.J. of Hum. Evol. 13:287–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Thomson A., 1905. Composite photographs of early Egyptian skulls.Man 38.Google Scholar
  104. Thomson A. and Randall-MacIver D., 1905.Ancient Races of the Thebaid. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  105. Trinkhaus E., 1981. Neanderthal limb proportions and cold adaptation. In Stringer, C. (ed),Aspects of Hum. Evol. London: Taylor and Franicis.Google Scholar
  106. Turner C. and Markowitz M., 1990. Dental discontinuity between late Pleistocene and recent Nubians.Homo 41(1):32–41.Google Scholar
  107. Vercoutter J., 1976. The iconography of the Black in ancient Egypt. In Vercoutter J., Ledant J., Snowden J. and Desanges J. (eds)The Image of the Black in Western Art. Lousanne. Menil, pp. 33–88.Google Scholar
  108. Vercoutter J., 1978. The peopling of ancient Eg, vpt and Discussion. In:The Peopling of Ancient Egypt and the Deciphering of Meroitic Script. Paris: UNESCO, pp. 15–36.Google Scholar
  109. de Villiers H., 1968.The Skull of the South African Negro. Johannesburg: Univer. of Witwatersand.Google Scholar
  110. Waren E., 1879. An investigation of the variability of the human skeleton: with specialreference to the Nagada race …Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. B. 189:135–227.Google Scholar
  111. Wiercinski A., 1962. Report on human crania recovered at Maadi cemetery.Anthropologie (Brno) 1:38–48.Google Scholar
  112. Wiercinski A., 1963. Report on human crania recovered at Maadi cemetery.Anthropologie (Brno) 2:41–48.Google Scholar
  113. Wiercinski A., 1965. The analysis of racial structure of early dynastic populations in Egypt.Materialy i Prace Antropol. 71:3–48.Google Scholar
  114. Wiercinski A., 1972. The problem of anthroposcopic variations in ancient Egyptians.J. Hum. Evol., 1:143–165.Google Scholar
  115. Wiercinski A., 1980. Individual typology and the intraspecific taxonomy of man.Mater i Przegland Antrop. 46: 279–296.Google Scholar
  116. Williams B., 1986. The A-Group Royal cemetery at Qustul: Cemetery L. The Univer. of Chicago Oriental Institute Nubiarn.Expedition Vol. III. Chicago: The Oriental Institute of Chicago.Google Scholar
  117. Wilson E.O. and Brown W.L., 1953. The subspecies concept and its taxonomic application.Systematic Zool. 2:97–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. O. Y. Keita
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Sociology-Anthropology Anatomy and Plastic SurgeryHoward UniversityWashington, D.C.USA

Personalised recommendations