Monday, August 06, 2007

The Black Mummy

Science Channel has an hour long program on archaeologists trying to understand the mystery around a child mummy found in the central Sahara that dates more than 5,000 years ago. It does a fairly decent job of postulating how the central Saharan culture, as it waned due to a climatic shift that set the Sahara back to desert, might have influenced the Nile culture in respect to mummification, cult of the cow, and even a carving showing a dog headed human. Normally my red warning flags go up over this kind of archeology due to an early encounter with a book called Black Athena that asserted all that is Western Culture was borrowed/stolen from black African culture.

As I said, this show does try to make sensible linkages between this Saharan culture and the culture of the Nile River. The sophisticated method of mummifying a child and the Egyptian method of mummifying their dead is one of their arguments of a linkage. There is a bit of a problem, the child it seems was an average child of no great social standing while in Egypt to be mummified meant you had to be royal or high up in the Pharaohic bureaucracy like a governor to rate such a burial. Cult of the cow or bull is another tenuous link since the Minoans worshipped the bull and so did such Greek city states as Mycenae along with the Egyptian Apis Bulls. And the Masai are still firmly a tribe who's lifeblood is tied with the fate of their cattle. The final attempt at linkage is the infusion of central Saharan style pottery into Nubia about 6,000 years ago. Yes it seems pretty strong evidence of a link, except when one remembers the Nubians imported from the Egyptians later on the concept of the pyramid as a mausoleum method of burying their dead. So this link is also tenuous.

Now one way for these archaeologists to truly sew up, as a slam dunk, this theory that the Saharan culture influenced the evolving culture of the Nile is to do a survey of all the pre-Menes sites to see if these concepts like mummification existed then, before this documented influx of decorated Saharan pottery into the Nile valley. But this show does not make any such assertion. What are we left with after fifty years of research is only a possible explanation of the observed facts, but we are no closer to an actual resolution.

Anyway I am digging through Dr. Michael Hoffman's book Egypt Before The Pharaohs to see if I find any corroboration or further refutation of this show's premise.

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