Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, its three volumes first published in 1987, 1991, and 2006 respectively, is a controversial work by Martin Bernal. He discusses ancient Greece in a new light. Bernal's thesis discusses the perception of ancient Greece in relation to Greece's African and Asiatic neighbors, especially the ancient Egyptians and Phoenicians who, he believes, colonized ancient Greece. Bernal proposes that a change in the Western perception of Greece took place from the 18th century onward and that this change fostered a subsequent denial by Western academia of any significant African and Phoenician influence on ancient Greek civilization.
Black Athena has been criticized by academics. They often highlight the fact that there is no archaeological evidence for ancient Egyptian colonies in mainland Greece or the Aegean Islands. Academic reviews of Bernal's work generally reject his heavy reliance on ancient Greek mythology, speculative assertions, and handling of archaeological, linguistic, and historical data.
In this video Doctor Rebecca Futo Kennedy takes us through the development of Black Athena and discusses its main points, the academic push back, controversy, triumphs and failures.
What is Black Athena Hypothesis? What did it get right? What did it get wrong? What impact has it had?
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Doctor Rebecca Futo Kennedy is Associate Professor of Classics, Women's and Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies at Denison University; and the Director of the Denison Museum. Her research focuses on the political, social, and cultural history of Classical Athens, Athenian tragedy, ancient immigration, ancient theories of race and ethnicity, and the reception of those theories in modern race science.
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Why I teach about race and ethnicity in the classical world (article.)
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