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Full description for Black Athena Writes Back

  • In 1987 a book appeared that generated one of the most passionate debates of recent decades. Producing a shock wave of reaction from scholars studying the civilisation of the ancient Greeks, Martin Bernal's Black Athena argued that the development of Greek civilisation was influenced predominantly by Afro-Asiatic civilisations. Moreover, Bernal asserted that this conception had been deliberately obscured by the rampant racism of nineteenth-century Europeans who could not abide the notion that Greek society - for centuries recognised as the originating culture of Europe - had its origins in Africa. The subsequent rancour among classicists to Bernal's theory and accusations was picked up in the popular media, and his suggestion that Greek culture had its origin in Africa was widely derided. In a report on 60 Minutes, for example, it was suggested that Bernal's hypothesis was essentially an attempt to provide blacks with self-esteem so that they would feel included in the march of progress. Black Athena Writes Back is Bernal's long-planned third instalment, in which he responds to his critics by providing both additional documentation and disarming explanations of why traditional scholarship on the subject remains inaccurate and why specific arguments lobbed against his theories over the past decades are themselves faulty. Black Athena Writes Back requires neither a prior familiarity with the Black Athena hypothesis nor with the arguments advanced against it. Beyond those who have been engaged in the debate since it began, educated readers interested in ancient civilisation and world history will be fascinated by its arguments.