In this richly illustrated account of black–white contacts from the Pharaohs to the Caesars, Frank Snowden demonstrates that the ancients did not discriminate against blacks because of their color.
For three thousand years Mediterranean whites intermittently came in contact with African blacks in commerce and war, and left a record of these encounters in art and in written documents. The blacks—most commonly known as Kushites, Ethiopians, or Nubians—were redoubtable warriors and commanded the respect of their white adversaries. The overall view of blacks was highly favorable. In science, philosophy, and religion color was not the basis of theories concerning inferior peoples. And early Christianity saw in the black man a dramatic symbol of its catholic mission.
This book sheds light on the reasons for the absence in antiquity of virulent color prejudice and for the difference in attitudes of whites toward blacks in ancient and modern societies.
This elegantly written book…collects evidence for artistic representations of African individuals in the ancient world from Egyptian to Roman times… His illustrations are well chosen and [show] how the ancient world saw the people of its southern frontiers.
Snowden provides a sophisticated assessment of the ancients’ lack of racism… The chief contribution of Snowden’s work lies in the case he makes for the view that racism is not universal… Whatever the time at which the racism that continues to plague modern societies arose, it most certainly does not trace back to antiquity.
This cogent, well-written study is richly illustrated with 47 pages of plates of uniformly high quality.
- 176 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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