The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization
(The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985, Volume 1)
by Professor Martin Bernal (Author)
"Winner of the American Book Award and a Socialist Review Book Award"
An astonishing work, breathtaking bold in conception and passionately written... salutary, exciting, and in its historiographical aspects, convincing.
- G. W. Bowersock, Journal of Interdisciplinary History and Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
"The next far in book.... A formidable work of intellectual history."
- Christian Science Monitor
A work which has much to offer the lay reader, and its multi-disciplinary sweep is refreshing: it is an important contribution to his to historiography and the sociology of knowledge, written with elegance, wit, and self-awareness... a thrilling journey... his account is as gripping a tale of scholarly detection and discovery as one could hope to find.
- Margaret Drabble, The Observer
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 chiefly for racist reasons.
The popular view is that Greek civilization was the result of the conquest of a sophisticated but weak native population by vigorous Indo-European speakers or Aryans from the North. But the Classical Greeks, Bernal argues, knew nothing of this "Aryan Model." They did not see their political institutions, science, philosophy, or religion as original, but rather as derived from the East in general, and Egypt in particular.
Black Athena is projected to be a four-volume work. Volume 1 concentrates on the crucial period between 1785 and 1850, which saw both the Romantic and racist reaction to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and the consolidation of Northern expansion into other continents. In an unprecedented tour de force, Bernal makes meaningful links between a wide range of areas and philosophy, biography, language, historical narrative, and the emergence of "modern scholarship."
Martin Bernal retired from the Department of Near Eastern Studies in 2001. He is a professor emeritus, Joint appointment, Department of Government and Ancient Eastern Mediterranean history at Cornell University; he was formerly a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. The first two volumes of Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (“I: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece, 1785–1985”; and “II: The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence”) have been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, and Swedish and will soon be available in Greek and Japanese.