Study Guide: Race and ancient Egypt

Important names, terms, and concepts



Black Athena and the debate over race and ethnicity re ancient Egypt

slave spirituals: political and religious significance

The Exodus narrative in African American history, religion, and tradition

Discussion Questions

1. What meaning did the slave spirituals about Moses and Egypt and the Exodus have for African American slaves? What did the interpretation of the Exodus story mean in terms of religion, salvation, and/or being God's people? What political meaning did the spirituals have?




2. The book Black Athena argued that many of the idas and traditions of classical, Western civilization (including Greek civilization) derived from Egyptian and other African ancient civilizations. The book resulted in a storm of controversy. Berlinerblau gives background to the debate and outlines three positions in the controversy over the book Black Athena

  1. the Afrocentrist position
  2. Bernal’s position
  3. the position of the “traditionalists” in Classics

What are these positions? In class, we’ll work through them further together.  Why is this debate so heated?