Black Athena Writes Back

Black Athena Writes Back : Martin Bernal Responds to His Critics

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In Black Athena Writes Back Martin Bernal responds to the passionate debates set off by the 1987 publication of his book Black Athena. Producing a shock wave of reaction from scholars, Black Athena argued that the development of Greek civilization was heavily influenced by Afroasiatic civilizations. Moreover, Bernal asserted that this knowledge had been deliberately obscured by the rampant racism of nineteenth-century Europeans who could not abide the notion that Greek society-for centuries recognized as the originating culture of Europe-had its origins in Africa and Southwest Asia. The subsequent rancor among classicists over 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. In Black Athena Writes Back Bernal provides additional documentation to back up his thesis, as well as offering persuasive explanations of why traditional scholarship on the subject remains inaccurate and why specific arguments lobbed against his theories are themselves faulty. Black Athena Writes Back requires no prior familiarity with either the Black Athena hypothesis or with the arguments advanced against it. It will be essential reading for those who have been following this long-running debate, as well as for those just discovering this fascinating subject.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 576 pages
  • 162.56 x 238.76 x 43.18mm | 861.82g
  • Duke University Press
  • North Carolina, United States
  • English
  • 15 figures
  • 0822327171
  • 9780822327172
  • 808,111

Review quote

"Black Athena must be the most discussed book on the ancient history of the eastern Mediterranean world since the Bible... [It] enjoys such continued attention because it raises important scholarly questions, and because it makes a difficult subject available to a large audience."-Mario Liverani, in Black Athena Revisited "A fascinating and important debate. As a lay reader I find both the scholarly arguments and the human differences very gripping. Bernal tells the story of the process of academic diffusion very vividly and gives us the kind of background we don't usually discover."-Margaret Drabble "[F]ew books published about the ancient world since World War II have provoked as much interest both inside and outside the discipline of classics as has Black Athena."-Guy MacLean Rogers, in Black Athena Revisitedshow more

Back cover copy

"[F]ew books published about the ancient world since World War II have provoked as much interest both inside and outside the discipline of classics as has "Black Athena.""--Guy MacLean Rogers, in "Black Athena Revisite"dshow more

About Martin Bernal

Martin Bernal is Professor of Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. The first two volumes of Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization ("I: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece, 1785-1985"; and "II: The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence") have been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, and Swedish and will soon be available in Greek and Japanese. David Chioni Moore is Assistant Professor of International Studies and English at Macalester College.show more

Table of contents

Contents - Egyptology - Can we be fair? A reply to John Baines; Greece is not Nubia - A reply to David O'Connor; Classics - Who is qualified to write the history of Greece? A reply to Lawrence A. Tritle; How did the Egyptian way of death reach Greece? A reply to Emily Vermeule; Just smoke and mirrors? A reply to Edith Hall; Linguistics - Ausnahmslosigkeit uber alles - A reply to Jasanoff and Nussbaum; Historiography - Accuracy and/or coherence? A response to Palter, Norton and Blok; Passion and politics - A response to Guy Rogers; The British Utilitarians, Imperialism and the fall of the Ancient Model; Science - Was there a Greek scientific miracle? A response to Robert Palter; Animadversions on the origins of Western science; Recent Broadening Scholarship - Greek art without Egypt - Hamlet with out the Prince - A review of Sarah Morris's Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art; One or several revolutions? A review of Walter Burkert's The Orientalising Revolutions; There's a mountain in the way - A review of Martin West's The East Face of Helicon; Phoenician politics and Egyptian justice in Ancient Greece; A popularizing effort; All not quiet of the Wellesley front - A review of Mary Lefkowitz's Not Out of Africashow more