Egypt and the Sea in Antiquity


By Harry Bourne



A long history lies behind attributing the sources of Pre-Dynastic Egypt of Before Common Era (= BCE [= as opposed to CE/AD]) to beyond what Egypt called the Wdj-wr (= Great Green = [all?] seas adjacent to Egypt?). A candidate is the Far East. This mainly means what goes under the several labels of Island Southeast Asia (= ISEA), Maritime Southeast Asia, Insular Southeast Asia, Nusantara (=Islands), Austronesia, the better known “Indonesia”, Indo/Malaysia etc. The principal island-groups are the Philippines, Island Malaysia plus Indonesia.

These islands have a lengthy maritime history that mainly relates to speakers of what are called the Austronesian languages. They are a major ancestral strand of the Polynesians of the west Pacific, some of the earliest migrants to Australia, of the present-day Indo/Malays, the Malagasy of Madagascar, etc. James Hornell (Indonesian Culture in East Africa [Man 1928]) ties this to the Tyvans (= Islanders) seen as Pre-Tamils in south India by Tamil tradition. Robert Dick-Read (The Phantom Voyagers 2005) seeks ISEA influences even further west across the Indian Ocean.

Further is that many online writers have it the Tamil origin-myth has it that Hinduism originates in the parts of Mainland and Island Southeast Asia. Elsewhere online, it is stated ISEA is in the middle of the temple-building cultures outside Europe. The earliest structures may reflect the form of local mountains but arguments for Proto-Hinduism spreading to India plus Egypt may reinforce the general argument. In this light would lions in the role of protecting religious sites on the Indonesian sites in Sumatra and Bali and as the Great Sphinx at Giza (Egypt).

Also ISEA as the Ta-Neter/Punt that the ancient Egyptians to be both the homeland of their gods plus ancestors. Here too would belong that the islands of ISEA on the basis of the Egyptian story of “The Shipwrecked Sailor” placing the land of Punt on an island.

On the other hand, contributors to “Tribute to Hinduism” (= TTH online) hark to India for the origin of Pre-Dynastic Egypt. More specifically, this has prompted looking to western parts “Greater” India (= Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh) as the ancient Meluhha. This approximates with what archaeologists describe as the Harappan or Indus Culture.

What for such earlier Greeks as Herodotus (ca. 450 Before Common Era [= BCE]) was the Erythrean Sea is now called the Persian Gulf (= Arabian Gulf on Arab maps). At its head is what has been called Sumeria, south Mesopotamia, south Babylonia, Iraq Arabi, South Iraq, etc, and at its southern was what was called Magan ( now mainly Oman?). Geoffrey Possuel (The Indus Civilisation 2002) showed plentiful Harappan pottery at Ras al-Junayz (Oman). Other scholars have described Harappan seals in Sumeria, Dilmun/Tilmun (= modern Bahrain), Magan/Oman. Possuel (Expedition article online) cites texts noting Harappan villages with granaries in Meluhha, the personal seal of a translator of Meluhhan texts, the Indus Valley source of the carnelian beads of Queen Puabi’s necklace found at Ur (all found in Sumeria).

Even the Semitic neighbours appear to have come under this Harappan influence. Thus contributors to TTH already noted state the Asuras led to the name of the Assyrians, Cholas became Chaldeans, Panis became Puni/Poeni (= Phoenicians), etc. There are also Tamil words in Hebrew, thus Tamil tokei as Heb. tukhi (= parrot or peacock); Tamil ibhi as Heb. habbim (= ivory); Tamil kopi as Heb. koph (= apes); Tamil almug as Heb. almuggim (= sandalwood?), etc.

Indians among ancestral groups from which the emerged the Malagasy of Madagascar may be a surprise for both Madagascar plus east Arica from South Africa/Mozambique in the south  to Egypt in the north (see also the sources cited in Ancient India, West Africa & the Sea). Lions protecting of holy places in India are shown in the Wikipedia entry on Asian lions and was seen above in Egypt. This is but one of the many traits held to be shared by India and Egypt according to TTH. Another would be the Hindu shikara compared with the Stepped Pyramids of Egypt.

Mesopotamia (= more or less Iraq) has long been another favourite for those seeking outside agencies for the rise of Egyptian civilisation. One of them was William Flinders Petrie (The Making of Egypt 1939). The reputation of Petrie is such that he has been called the “Father of Egyptology”. His theories were taken up by David Rohl (The Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History 1995: Legend: The Genesis of History 1998; From Exile to Eden 2002). Petrie (ib.) and Rohl (ib.) are but two of those paying attention to groups at the head of the Persian Gulf going under the many labels of Shemsu Hor (= Sons of Horus), Dynastic Race, Eastern Invaders; Proto-Puni, Fon/Pon/Pun, Square-boat People, etc. They are seen as ancestral to the Phoenicians, so fit with Herodotus seeing the Phoenicians as originating in the Persian Gulf (= the Red Sea of H.). This is mirrored by the Persian Gulf island-names of Arad (now Muharrack) and Tylos (Bahrain Island) as Arvad and Tyros in Phoenicia (= Lebanon) respectively.

More of the same includes the Great Flood myths of the Sumerian Ziusudra  (in the Eridu Genesis); Babylonian Utnapishtim  (Epic of Gilgamesh); Hebrew/Jewish Noah (the Genesis story of the Old Testament). They hold much in common but of great interest is Rohl (ib.) pointing out they all attest use of bitumen for waterproofing ships as further echoed at the other end of the Persian Gulf at Ras al-Hinz, Ras el-Hadd, Es-Sawajh, Ras el-Junayz, etc, (all Oman). More of the same comes with the Miles (Geographical Journal 1896) article Kuryat as the hinterland of Sur itself known as an early spelling of Tyre back in the Lebanon homeland of the Phoenicians.

The colour red occurs in the names of the Erythraean Sea (now the Persian Gulf), the Himyarite people of Yemen, the one-time Red Sea (called the Arabian Sea by Herodotus), the Phoenicians, etc. They mostly relate to Greek words to do with shades of colour ranging between purple and red. There is a considerable literature on this with numerous interpretations based on it. This brings us to “Locating Punt” by Dmitri Meeks (in “Mysterious Lands” edd. David O’Connor & Stephen Quirke 2003) being in western Arabia, either west Yemen or western Saudi Arabia. Carl Peters (Journal of the African Society 1902) felt “Ophir & Punt” were in South Africa. Credo Mutwa (as Richard Ganter in “Zimbabwe’s Heavenly Ruins” 2003) says Zulu tradition talks of outsiders who are held to be the Phoenicians depicted in rock-art in the Drakensberg Mountains (South Africa).

Possibly linked is the Ausan of the Arabian Peninsula (esp. west Yemen) of ca. 800-500 BCE. The “Periplus of the Erythrean Sea” (ca. 1st c. Common Era [= C.E.]) Greek) refers to an Ausan/Awsan held under an ancient mandate by Arabs called Mapharites by Greeks and Maa’fir by Arabs. Thus it seems these Arabs named the Auseinitic Coast (= Azania) of east Africa. Most of this seems to be the coastal stretch KwaZulu/Natal (Sth. Af.) to the Horn of Africa otherwise called Pwenet (another spelling of Punt). Given that Himyarite and Phoenician were seen above to attest red-skinned folks, it has significance that Pre-Somalis of Somalia are called reer Xamar (= Red-skins). Xamar still names part of Mogadishu according to Hiraan (online).

Still just south of the Horn of Africa (Som.) is what Opone (= Hafun). Petrie (ib.) says the name of the Fon/Pon/Pun relates to that of Opone that was still around as a name to be recorded by the unknown author of the Periplus Maris Erythraei (= PME = Voyage on the Erythrean Sea). Not only did Petrie (ib.) feel the names of the Pon/Pun and Phoenicians relate to that of the “island” of Opone but its nearness to the mainland facilitating trade but far enough from it to act as a refuge in times of trouble if needed is an absolutely classic Phoenician pattern.

Opone being south of the Horn means it faces the Erythrean Sea confusingly meaning the western Indian Ocean for the PME-author (ca. 50 C.E.). Rohl (ib.) traced the Pun/Pon through the Gulf of Aden and the Straits of el-Mandeb on to the Red Sea. This comes close to the traditional location for Punt in north Somalia/Djibouti near where lived the red-skinned Pre-Somali reer Xamar noted already.

Puntites are depicted in murals in the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari (Eg.). They mostly appear little different from the Egyptians as depicted, with the exception of Queen Ati. If Perahu (King of Punt) is more a title than a name, this parallels that of Pharoah seen in personalised form in the Old Testament and Herodotus. Another relevant word would appear to be that in Sumerian meaning ship apparently being the same as the Egyptian hieroglyph for marine (= ship-borne troops).

Ship-borne troops are important for the Petrie/Rohl case. There are scenes painted on rocks of ships being dragged overland and seemingly attest a route from Quseir on the Red Sea through the Wadi Hammamat to Qubt/Copt/Kept on the Nile. However, dismantling of papyrus/reed-built vessels to dry out material and/or easy transport overland is worldwide and the Wadi/Mersa Gawassis (= Saaw, Eg.) finds include dismantled wooden ships. Rohl shows the Nile used to flood more to the east than now. This would make any re-launch much easier, as would the canal built by 12th –Dynasty Pharoahs.

The earliest phase would be marked by such as scenes painted at Tomb 100 at Nekhen (= Hierankopolis, Eg.), carved on a knife-handle found at Gebel el-Arak (Eg.), etc. They are important for the Petrie/Rohl views and they hold the Nekhen paintings as showing Mesopotamian/Eastern Invaders led from the black ship and slain Egyptians lying on the battlefield. More of these ships appear on the Arak knife-handle, as does a “Lord of the Beasts” figure dressed in Mesopotamian garb. This same figure is among those depicted in the Tomb 100 scene.

Petrie compared the Gebel el-Arak knife-handle and the Bayeux (France) Tapestry. This was as successful invasions of Egypt and England by Mesopotamians and Norman-French led by William the Conqueror respectively. Rohl saw the success as based on the Mesopotamian pear-shaped maceheads being superior to the round ones of the Egyptians. The similar knobkerrie clubs that with the assegai (= stabbing-spear) proved so effective for the much later Zulus of a long way to the south.

The final stages of the conquest would be shown on the Narmer Palette taking us to Tomb 100, as was found in the “The Deposit” there. Narmer is seen in “the Pharoah striking the enemy” pose that was a convention of Egyptian art for millennia to come. On this same side Narmer wears the Hedjet (= White Crown) symbolising Upper (= south) Egypt and on the other side he wears the Deshret (= Red Crown) symbolic of Lower (= north) Egypt. This presumably means south and north in Egypt were now united under one ruler. Narmer is sometimes equated with the Menes that the king-list compiled by Manetho (3rd c. BCE Egypto/Greek) says was the first Pharoah of Egypt (& = Aha?).

Probably the ultimate sign of the conquest would be the imposition of Asian gods from Mesopotamia on Egypt. A much-seen photo is of the three figures cited already as aboard a Mesopotamian ship. Two were the gods named Enlil and Enki and the third was a sphinx. Here we bear in mind the comment by Manetho that the face of the Great Sphinx was that of an Asiatic conqueror of Egypt.


It will soon become self-evident that only aspects of the subject are touched on in these pages and in this section, we open with “The oldest representation of a Nile boat” by Donatella Usai and Sandro Salvatore (online). They refer to a depiction of a vessel excavated at el-Saha (Sudan) that they date to ca. 7000 BCE It was engraved on a pebble and they regard it as closely relating to other depictions in both Sudanese and Egyptian Nubia. This particularly means the scenes on the rock-walls of the wadis. Other motifs on the other mobiliary art of portable objects are also shared with the Wadi rock-art.

The portable items include incense-burners plus pottery. Of the incense-burners, those numbered L11 and L24 at Qustul (Egyptian Nubia) attest someone wearing the Hedjet also seen at Wadi Abbad and possibly the walls of Tomb 100. The Petrie excavations at Naqada (Egypt) gave rise to a numbered levels and pottery from Level C is called C-ware and a sherd of it from Naqada attests the Deshret seen in Wadi rock-art at Wadi Qash (Egypt). Another C-ware sherd from Abydos (Egypt) has the grouped females of Wadi rock-art at Wadi Awani (Egypt). More C-ware from Mahasna (Egypt) plus Naqada share the harpooned hippos of the Wadi rock-art. Another motif of similar date is the one that archaeologists label as “The Dancing Goddess seen on potsherds and aboard boats depicted in the rock-art.

Most immediate is the attached chronology. P. Roger Moorey (in Centre & Periphery edd. messrs. Rowlands, Larsen & Kristiansen 2005) wrote that the similarity of boats on the Euphrates and Tigris in Mesopotamia and the Nile in Egypt arose from the use of comparable material. However, it is the dates that are really fatal for the Petrie/Rohl thesis.

If it is true that depictions of the so-called square ships are of the same date as the crescentic ones, it will be very apparent that the allegedly superior Mesopotamian ships are made irrelevant by this and can certainly not be given chronological priority over the supposedly inferior Egyptian ones. This is made even more so by the fact that the ca. 5000 BCE for “The earliest representation of” Egyptian boats must lead to the removal of antecedents from the Persian Gulf harked to as having reached Egypt at ca. 3500 BCE.

Rohl ((Early Migrations into the Nile Valley online) has realised that there are problems with his theories and hypothesised that that the Eastern Invaders came by way of north Arabia. Quite apart from the attendant problems of this, there are such as P. Roger Moorey (in online excerpt from Centre & Periphery edd. messrs Rowlands, Larsen & Kristensen 2005) saying journeys across north Arabia at this time were very unlikely.

Something very similar emerges from what we might call the Enki ship of the claimed Mesopotamian design and its possible links with the Great Sphinx. In turn, this leads us back to the simple conclusion that acceptance of any of the proposed date-schemes of recent years again tell very strongly against any non-Egyptian ancestry for the Great Sphinx. Moreover, the claimed Asian face of the Great Sphinx seen to been referenced by Manetho is that of a Pharoah of the Hyksos dynasty of conquerors. This makes it totally irrelevant for consideration relative to Pre-Dynastic Egypt. So once again, chronology tells against the Asian case.

If groups from Asia are to be harked to, far more likely is that they came via somewhere close to the Alexandria (Egypt)/Antakya (Antioch, Turkey)/Athens (Greece) or A/A/A arc of the east Mediterranean (as opposed to the Messina [Sicily]/Marseilles [s/east France]/Malaga [east Spain] or M/M/M arc of the west Mediterranean). However, there is one important feature that arises from the conditions within Egypt itself.

These conditions arise directly from the circumstance of the River Nile flowing north but the prevailing winds blowing south. Paul Johnstone (The Sea-craft of Prehistory 1980), Sean McGrail (Boats of the World 2004) plus many others point up that this means north-going progress was without sails but going south was under sail. This much is proven by hieroglyphs showing the north-going boats without sails but the south-going ones are with sails.

It should be said that whilst the Nile stretches the north-to-south length of Egypt, not all that river is in Egypt. It was seen that boats from the variously named Ta-Seti, Kush, Nubia, Sudanese Nubia, north Sudan, etc, so it must have significance that Kush/Sudan also has banners that the cited authorities regard as important for the emergence of the sail on the Nile. The banners resemble those of such tribes of Sudan as the Bari, Shilluk, Dinka, etc. Catching the breeze, they would aid progress and this being observed evolved into the full sail. Proponents of this point include Robert LeBaron Bowen (The Boats of the Indus Culture in The Mariner’s Mirror 1956), McGrail (ib.) plus many others points to these motifs being depicted on Pre-Dynastic vases from Egypt. Bjorn Landstrom (The Ship 1961; The Ships of the Pharoahs 1971) refers to banners flying flag-style attesting cattle almost looking like they are placed atop the mast. The cattle are said by Landstrom (ib.) to resemble the cattle of Africans of the Sudanese tribes already referred to.

It may well be that sails emerged at differing times in different places but the Nile must be a premier candidate for primary development and certainly was part of the equipment drawn on by Thor Heyerdahl (The Ra Voyages 1971). The first of the Ra ships was re-created using ancient Egyptian originals by the Buduma of Lake Chad. It was this vessel that failed to cross the Atlantic by not reaching the Bahamas. Heyerdahl (ib.) felt the reason for the failure of Ra 1 was that the hogging-truss commonly seen on ships illustrated in Egyptian art.

Donald Muffett (in Blacks in Science ed. Ivan Van Sertima 2001) felt there was another reason for the failure was that Heyerdahl (ib.) had used the Buduma to construct the vessel. The Buduma certainly had a very long history building reed-craft but did so for the shallow waters of Lake Chad not the open sea. Nor is this the only example of a reed-ship failing on the Atlantic, as one of the Abora ships of Dominique Gorlitz also failed attempting a west/east crossing. This is despite the apparent successes of Gorlitz (Reed Boat on the Mediterranean online; Pre-Egyptian Reed Boat Abora Crosses the Mediterranean online) near the A/A/A/-arc.

Having already said the Nile is not entirely confined to Egypt, another aspect of this is that this river allows access to and from the interior of Africa. It seems south/north is the most relevant for the rise of Dynastic Egypt. We also read of constantly invading to the south. The texts tell of Kush/Nubia (= Sudan) being hacked up, slaying or capture of Kushites, capture of 1000s of cattle, etc. In the reign of Senusret III, statues were set up Uronarti Egypt) plus Semna (Egypt) bearing vulvas indicating that the Egyptians thought their Kushite enemies were woman-like and/or cowardly. Yet at the same time, Semna also figures as where there was an inscription banning the inhabitants of “wretched” Kush from entering Egypt. The massive forts enforcing this may referring suggest a not so cowardly Kush, the more so given that Kushites were a mainstay of Egyptian armies for millennia to come.


It seems Nile craft developed slowly and it is more than a little likely that they were not unlike those alluded to by Eratosthenes (ca. 350-300 BCE) in a now-lost account partly coming down to us via Pliny (ca. 50 BCE) according to McGrail (ib.). The vessels on the Nile compared by Eratosthenes, Pliny, McGrail, etc, were with Egyptian ships on the Erythraean Sea/western Indian Ocean for sails, rigging, reed-build, etc. They were seen as capable of reaching India in seven days (acc. to Eratosthenes) but whether they could have gone past India remains moot.

It should be realised this is what is called for on the hypothesis that the place called Punt in Egyptian records is really Indonesia. It has already been shown that there is more than a little reason to question this. Such places of antiquity as Eden, Atlantis, Ophir, etc, have all been placed almost anywhere in the world. They all join each other in not really being capable of having their locations specifically pinpointed. The Greek concept of Okeanos (= The Ocean = The World-stream) has had a large part to play in this.

Punt may appear a more surprising candidate in this category but it too has been the subject of being placed nearly everywhere other than its traditional location a little north of the Horn of Africa facing the Red Sea. An attribution to “Indonesia” seems to belong with the rest of what Martin Walsh (Who Were the First Sailors on the Indian Ocean?) has called Orientalism. In turn, this is part of looking for non-African sources for the higher tenets of civilisation in east Africa from South Africa/Mozambique in the south to Egypt in the north.

Punt as somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula finds rather more champions with southern Arabia (esp. Yemen) and/or western (esp. western Saudi Arabia) looming large here. Diodorus Siculus (ca. 50 BCE Sicilian Greek) wrote of sailors on the western Arabia getting the scent of sweet-smelling timber (= frankincense?). Herodotus also wrote of gold, frankincense plus myrrh coming from Arabia. The Gospel of St. Mark also tells of gold, frankincense and myrrh brought to the infant Jesus by the Magi traditionally seen as coming from “Arabia”. These same commodities were seen as coming from Punt to Egypt.

Dmitri Meeks (in Mysterious Lands edited David O’ Connor & Stephen Quirke 2003) is a leading light among the recent voices wanting Punt to be in Arabia. A major argument in the past has been is the presence of such typically African animals as the giraffe plus rhinoceros in the murals at Deir el-Bahari. These animals are said to have been in the private zoo of Queen Hatshepsut and depicted at Deir el-Bahari (Egypt). The Deir el-Bahari scenes illustrate the meeting of Puntites and Egyptians in Punt, as the place from whence these animals were exported to Egypt. This would require expert handlers that on the remarks of Meeks would remove Africans from consideration of being capable of transporting such large animals that Meeks (ib.) says is both very ancient and very widespread.

We may be sure be sure that this lies behind the attempted capture of large hirsute animals in west Africa, as described by Hanno in the Periplus (= Voyage) of Hanno (ca. 600 BCE.). Movement of elephants was rather more frequent and more large-scale than might be thought. Taming of Indian elephants seemingly began ca. 5000/4000 BCE. Large movements of elephants is exampled by those sent by Chandragupta of the Mauryan Empire (= most of north. India) to Selecus (who ruled a Post-Alexandrian empire stretching from Anatolia to India). Certainly Indian elephants this far west and in large numbers at that is shown by the 500 presented by Chandragupta to Selecus (as already seen). This seems underlined on a much smaller scale by Asian elephants sent to King Shalmeneser IV of Assyria in one direction and to the emperor of China in another.

It is certain that the Indian dates cannot be matched by any part of Africa and it is often said that the African elephant is untameable. In any case, messrs. Scullard (ib.) and Casson (Transactions of the American Philological Association 1994) cite Greeks saying all training of elephants was done in an Indian language. This would be supported by the Greek word for the trainers being Indov/Indo (= Indians). Moreover, we know that Indian elephants were taken by Hannibal from Africa for his Italian campaigns. This in turn is strengthened by another elephant that going by the name of Suris (= Syria) shows an Asian elephant but coming by way of Syria. Suris is also said to have been a particular favourite of Hannibal.

An Assyrian king named Shalmeneser II was presented with a rhinoceros by an Egyptian Pharoah that Meeks (ib.) would identify with Takelot IV. An Asian rhinoceros was sent to approximately the same part of the world to Sultan Selim of Turkey. Meeks (ib.) tells us that the rhinoceros presented by Perehu/Pereha as king of Punt to Queen Hatshepset/Hatshepsut (the so-called Female Pharoah) has to have been an Asian rhinoceros. This was because as depicted, it only has one horn, whereas the African rhinoceros has two.

As to the giraffe presented by Punt for the private zoo of Queen Hatshepset, Meeks (ib.) has it that though this is an African creature there is no reason to assume that this indicates Punt was in Africa. We also know that from the lists of rulers compiled by messrs. Laufer (The Giraffe in Art & History 1928), Meeks (ib.), Hoberman (A Giraffe for Tamerlane online), Khaliq (Swahili Sailors in Early China), etc, a number of rulers were presented with giraffes. They include Ching-Tsu (of China); Chong-le  (of China); Tamerlane (of Central Asia); Saifuddin (of Bengal); al-Malik (of Syria); Constantine II (of Byzantium); Michael VIII (Byzantium); Charles X (of France); William IV (of England). Further are such Italian Dukes as Lorenzo of Florence, Ferrante of Naples, Hercule of Ferrara, Alfonso of Calabria, etc.

An attempted capture of hairy beasts in west Africa by Carthaginians is reported by Hanno. It went very wrong and seems to have been in the absence of the Africans that evidently had provided so much aid to Hanno en route. As to Africans, elephants and African elephants being untameable, Scullard (ib.) plus Gibson (ib.) point out that this mainly means the giant Forest breed but need not apply to other African sub-breeds. Nor should we overlook that the term of Indov need not indicate there were never any Africans involved in this, any more than the fact that we still use the Indian term of mahout be taken as proof of elephant trainers are only ever Indian.

Peter Shinnie (Meroe 1967) thought mural art at Meroe (Sudan) showed Africans as trainers of elephants. Moreover, it does appear that this is not confined to Africa. There is a well-known series of coins from south Italy marking the wars of Hannibal there. Among the motifs they carry are scenes very clearly proving Africans with all the standard physical traits attesting African Blacks in Greco/Roman art. These coins demonstrate these Africans in the role of mahouts (trainers of elephants). More evidence of this known outside Africa seems illustrated by Dan Gibson (Nabataeans and Elephants online). He called particular attention to the ears of an elephant carved on a pillar in the Great Temple at Petra (Jordan). He demonstrated they are those of an African not an Asian elephant. Even further afield would be that said by Ivan Van Sertima (They Came Before Columbus 1976) to have been sent by east Africans from east Africa to China.

Nor is the matter of rhinos as not clear-cut as Meeks (ib.) evidently thinks it is. The Asian rhinoceros generally has a single horn but those from Sumatra have a second horn that is as minimal as to be regarded as non-existent. This is equally so for young African rhinos, so there is still no certainty that the rhinoceros apparently presented to Hatshepset is not from Africa, as opposed to Asia.

Clues to where rhinos in Africa came from are provided by Ptolemy ca. 1900-1800 B.P. Egypto/Greek) cited by Felix Chami (The Unity of Ancient African History 2006). He tells us an African rhinos were to be found in somewhere called Agysimba. On the basis of such as Symbaoae (= one of the old spellings of Zimbabwe), Zimba/Simba (of Tanzania & Kenya), Vazimba (early east African migrants to Madagascar), etc, somewhere in east Africa is again told for.

As to the giraffe seen as part of the mural art at Deir el-Bahari, notions of a typically African animal being exported from one part of east Africa to Arabia as Punt then re-exported to another part of east Africa is surely a needless coals-to-Newcastle exercise. On the arguments of such as messrs. Rightmire, Gramly, Lacroix, Lenderer, Chami (as Chami ib.), the Bantu co-existed with the San/Khwe across southern Africa very much earlier than usually supposed and this includes the sea-going Bantu called the Swahili. This gives a very long time against which to place the acquisition of expertise in handling large animals.

This in turn becomes relevant when we read Khalifa Khaliq (ib.) reporting the Swahili sending giraffes to Mumbai (= Bombay, India). Here they were seen by the famous Chinese admiral Zheng-he (= Cheng –ho).  He requested that one be sent on to his Imperial master in China. Khaliq well described the sensation that it caused in China. This seems underlined by that it seems from this source came the Cushito/Somali word of girin (= giraffe). It became The Chinese kilin plus Japanese and Korean kirin. The frequency of east Africa plus Egypt involved in the handling and transport of these large mammals makes it more than a little likely that the Punt from which they were exported was in east Africa.

An animal not touched on by Meeks (ib.) is the dromedary (= single-humped camel). It seems it was domesticated in Arabia at about the same time that the donkey was domesticated in east Africa. Probably the most famous journey through Arabia is that made by (the Queen of) Sheba and was by dromedary. With due allowance for stretching of dates, it seems the Arabia of “Sheba” of the Old Testament is broadly comparable with the Egypt of the murals of Deir el-Bahari in terms of date. If so, the dromedary is surely to be expected in those murals but it is nowhere to be seen in them but the donkey is the beast of burden to be seen in el-Bahari reliefs, so once again it is east Africa that is told for.

The pictorial accuracy for which the Egyptian artists were famous allows us to clearly identify the fishes in the Deir el-Bahari reliefs. They are of Red Sea species. The plants held to have reached Egypt at this date include cassia, cinnamon, myrrh, frankincense, etc. Of them, cassia plus cinnamon were said to originate somewhere vaguely in the Far East from China to Ceylon/Sri Lanka. Some online mentions of these two plants state that Semitic traders concocted a story that they were vaguely attributed to “Africa” in order to disguise the actual places of origin and maintain their monopoly of the trade. Messrs. Serpico and White (in online excerpt of Ancient Egyptian Materials & Technology edd. messrs. Nicholson & Shaw 2000) wrote there may have been more to the African sources than might appear. This is because they hold it is probably the east African camphor-tree that was being exported to Egypt.

It will be immediately obvious whatever was brought from Punt to Egypt, it was important to Egypt. From what is illustrated on the walls of the tomb-temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari, it will be seen the plants there include myrrh plus frankincense. It is also known that they were shipped from Punt together and this brings us back to Margaret Serpico (in Nicholson/White ib.). With it being probable that only the best was good enough for the temples that were the abodes of the gods, she says the finest of all frankincense is Boswellia frereana and that it grows in Somalia. From what is presented here, it seems probable that Punt/Ta-Neter was roughly east Africa from east Ethiopia/Eritrea down to Somalia.

From such as “Ancient Cities & Kingdoms of the East African Coasts: The Black Swahili” by Jacob Kinyaro (online), it emerges speakers of Cushitic languages combined with elements of those speaking tongues of the Niger/Congo (= N/C) family. This combination of Cushitics (much wider than Kushite/Cushites) plus N/C-speakers/Proto-Bantu was to give rise to what we have seen as the (mainly) sea-going Bantu called Swahili. Most linguists regard Swahili as an African language with an Arabic overlay plus a very much smaller one. This was shown to follow what might be called the Rightmire/Gramly/Lacroix/Lenderer/Chami/Campbell-Dunn school, such a fusion indicates a lengthy co-existence with the San/Khwe (as above).

It is known the southern end of the Swahili are somewhat more fully Bantuised than are their rather more northerly kin. This brings us to another perceived connection that joins the Cushitic to Old-Egyptian as part of the wider grouping called Afrasian. Another relationship seems to be that of the Swahili Shungwaya and the Egyptian Ta-neter. Both mean Home/Land of the Gods with Shungwaya definitely being in Somalia and Ta-Neter/Punt probably was. The fact that Cushitic joins with Old-Egyptian as part of the much wider Afrasian linguistic grouping links both ends of the Red Sea.

As do the Red Sea products shown to have reached Pre-Dynastic Egypt. If it is correct that Punt was on the African side of the region close to where the Gulf of Aden, plus the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb meet the Red Sea, we can also observe gold from Punt is known to 4th-Dynasty Egypt. It is also known that a son of Khufu/Cheops (also of the 4th Dynasty & reigning ca. 4590-4565 B.P.) owned a slave from Punt.

It seems the earliest reported expedition to Punt was during the 5th Dynasty. That certain plants plus and animals were exported from Punt to Egypt. Recent excavations at Wadi/Mersa Gawasis (= Saaw, Egypt) must have interest in that they attest 12th-Dynasty Pharoahs having sent ships to Punt. Hieroglyphs attest the name of Senusret I but there is scepticism about achievements claimed for him under the name of Sesostris. Yet the name of Sesostris that Herodotus seems to know Senusret by has been adopted as that for all the 12th-Dynasty Pharoahs named Senusret by many academics. Also at Gawasis there are certain proofs that his Dynasty was very interested in the Punt-trade. However, it is the expedition organised by Hatshepset that remains the most famous of them all.

These expeditions give the lie to the views that all Egyptian water-borne needs were dealt with on the River Nile. However, to what has been said about Red Sea trade regarding Pre-Dynastic/Early Dynastic Egypt is added what is written by McGrail (ib.). He has usefully summarised certain aspects. He wrote of Egypt taking tin from Anatolia? (= most of modern Turkey), copper from Cyprus, long planks mainly for shipbuilding from Lebanon, etc. A Pre-Dynastic presence in Syro/Palestine seems shown by excavations there. Potsherds bearing the name of Narmer but made of Palestinian clay came to be known in Egypt.

McGrail is also one of those telling us the story of the unfortunate Enenkhet. He was sent by Pepi I (Of the 6th Dynast & reigning ca. 2330-2280 B.P.) to construct a ship for the Punt-trade. It is known the Egyptians differentiated between ships for trading to KFTW (= Keftiu = Crete) and KBN/KPN (= Kubna/Kubla = Gubla/Gebla/Gebel = Byblos, Lebanon). But both Enenkhet and the later Henu were amongst those sent to Red Sea coasts to build KBN/KPN for the Punt-trade. This indicates that Egypt distinguished between ships trading to Keftiu/Crete and Byblos but not between ships for trading to Punt and Byblos. This presumably shows some Egyptian ships were of the open-sea but that those plying between Byblos and Punt were rather more coast-huggers that presumably mean again that those going to Punt went from one part of east Africa and another.

An interesting sidelight on this is one that indicates some of the problems with maritime history of nearly every kind. The age-old building of reed-craft in Egypt still occurred in the days of Eratosthenes for both on river plus sea. Use of short lengths of timber in bricks-in-a-wall fashion by Egyptian shipbuilders exampled by the ship excavated at Dahshur (Egypt) was still going on 2000 years later according to a description of Egyptian ships by Herodotus. The Ra plus Abora ships on the Atlantic plus the Mediterranean have had their failures emphasised but their successes almost appear to have gone by default. Yet those successes as reed-ships plus that of Min inspired by the Gawasis finds attest the seaworthiness of these ancient Egyptian types.

As 700/650 BCE was approached, Egypt was considerably weaker relative to her neighbours inside the A/A/A-arc but it seems they may have turned south for a repeat of what had happened in prior times. However, as Egypt turned to mainly Greeks as mercenaries for their sea-battles in the Med. Sea, so foreigners were harked to for those looks to the south. In the case of the Red Sea voyages, the foreigners employed were Phoenicians. It may even be that it was intended that this was intended to revive the trade with Punt once again, especially given that about this same date we find what appear to the final Egyptian references to Punt in such as the Defenneh (Egypt) inscription.


It was shown that it seems Egyptians outside Egypt led begun as early the Late Pre-Dynastic to judge from certain of finds of that date in southern Syro/Palestine. On the theories of Martin Bernal in the Black Athena series of books (1987, 1991, 2006), by the time of “Sesostris” statues were being set up to attest Egyptian influence as far away as European Scythia (= mainly south Russia & Ukraine) plus Anatolia (= most of Asian Turkey) as per Herodotus (cited by Bernal in Vol. II).

Another was that the one that Darius wanted to set up at a temple of Hephastaeus alongside that of Sesostris in Egypt. This is frequently dismissed as a fantasy concocted to give Egypt as glorious a past as that of Persia/Iran under Darius the Great and Greece under Alexander the Great. Nor are Sesostris and Hephastaeus known in Egyptian king-lists and god-lists respectively. The placename of Scythia is equally unknown to the Egyptians This is put alongside Herodotian errors detailing Persian misdeeds, particularly given what was inscribed on a statue of Udjahorresset. This inscription is held to offset what is written by Herodotus about the alleged misdeeds.

All attempts to connect the attempt the Anatolian statues to Sesostris clashes with Herodotus saying that they attach to someone called Memnon King of Kush). A further criticism of Herodotus is that he would not have understood Egyptian or Hittite, so the alleged Egyptian inscriptions could equally have been in Hittite. The more so given that at least one of may be that of a Hittite kinglet. Further is that once again Memnon is not an Egyptian name.

Nor should his eastern links be overlooked. To the east is the Hindu Kush (= Mountains of Hind) in “India”); Kushestan (= Khuzestan, once Elam/ now part of Persia/Iran); his mother was Eos (= Dawn) with implied eastern links with the dawn of the rising sun; she was also called Susian from Susa (1st capital of Elam & then a Persian one) called the city of Memnon by Herodotus; he came from the east according to Homer. Egyptian influence as far away as the Black Sea and the Balkans needs belief in the statues held by Greeks to belong here. Nor is there universal agreement that Herodotus has it right that “Sesostris” left African troops in Colchis (= mainly Georgia).

Is it really too subtle to suggest Herodotian use of Scythia simply marks the name of the area as it was known to him but was known to the Egyptians by another? As to the statue that Darius is said to have wanted to place at an Egyptian temple, the temple is that of Ptah long equated with the Greek Hephaestus and Sesostris occupies the same position in the Manethan king-list as that of Senusret II in other such lists of Pharoahs. As to the actual statue, notes in the famous Rieu (of various dates) translation for Penguin of Herodotus mentions a statue found at Susa bearing an inscription reading “This is the statue that Darius had made in Egypt to prove the Persian man held Egypt”. So any negative argument based on this statue being a fantasy fails on that statue proving to be a reality.

There is little sign of Persian overawe. As to the reputation of Egypt becoming attached to statues in Anatolia already seen to be confusingly being attributed to Sesostris, Memnon and Hittite kings, the parentage of Memnon is seen as a very relevant part of this. It may well be that the bright dawn represented by Eos and the bright bronze armour of Memnon suggested some kind of kinship to the Greeks that in turn indicated “the east” because the sun rose in the east. Here too lay Kush plus the Susa held to give rise to the Cissian/Susian epithet of Eos.

African tradition is far earlier than anything Greek and what was first written by the Semitic writers of Assyria plus Israel wrote is still older than all the earliest Greek written traditions. Cissia/Sissia/Sese also gives royal links right across Africa. Out of such as the Sese/Ssese Islands (in Lake Victoria) evidently royal leaders of much of what became Uganda plus adjacent countries and was still the site of the Royal canoe-fleets according to John Speke (The Discovery of the River Nile 1864 & 2006). Cisse/Sisse is the clan-name of the ruling dynasty of the Old-Ghana Empire of west Africa according to Mustapha Gadalla (Exiled Egyptians: The Heart of Africa 1999) and is also a part of African family-names. The similar word in Sese takes on the meaning of “Vanquisher” in Egyptian and was attached to Ramesses III and Gadalla (ib.) says cisse means noble in Egypt and to the south of which was where the Assyrian and Israelite writers consistently placed Kush.

Memnon was seen as the legendary king of the combined Kush/Nubia plus Egypt. His reputation was such that as we have seen it became applied to statues of other kings by Greek writers. In Egypt, this involved those of Amenhotep III and outside Egypt, seems to have involved those seen to have been confusingly attributed to Sesostris, Senusret II, Memnon, Amenemhet II, etc. The confusion is lessened somewhat when Bernal explains the name of Amenemhet II became Memnon to the Greeks. Any legend of his coming overland with troops to help Troy against the Greeks would see him coming from the south then east, with the eastern part of this passing into Greeks to be seen as part of what was described by Homer (ca. 3000- ca. 2900 B.P.? Greek).

This is not solely based on what Homer says, anymore than a similar Africo/Egyptian manifestation in Colchis rest solely on what Herodotus says, especially about blacks there and their curly hair. This is despite what is written by some very eminent authorities. Herodotus does not appear to say directly that Egyptians were African but other Greeks do so. Herodotus does refer to Sesostrid troops from Africa who chose to stay in Colchis. As part of this was the rite of circumcision seen by Herodotus as having come via Ethiopia, Egypt, Syro/Palestine to Colchis/Georgia. The Africans in Colchis may result from any number of the ship-loads of slaves that that have been carted around the Mediterranean over millennia.

However, if so it is curious this early slave-trade that consisted of several races should leave slaves that were only black and that they should concentrate in the very place where Herodotus said Africans stayed. Making this odder still is that with the traditions contained in such as “Remapping the Mediterranean:  The Argo Adventure, Apollonius & Callimachus” (online), “Welcome to Ulqun/Ulcinj” (online), etc, noting Colchians settled on several islands plus coasts right up to the head of the Adriatic, that once again there are strands of a story of a shipwreck plus yet more Africans involving with Colchian settlers, as at what became Ulcinj.

The distribution of the upright two-beam type of loom with their associated pear-shaped weights has been traced across Africa, into Egypt, Levant, Anatolia, Colchis/Georgia, etc. This produced high-quality linen for which Egypt, Sardis in Anatolia plus Colchis were famous. The more so given that David Braund’s “The Georgians” (1994) is cited by Richard Poe as saying the upright loom does not come from Aegeo/Greek sources to Colchis. Taking this into the A/A/A-arc would be the burials wrapped in fine linen reported by Donald MacKenzie (The Myths of Crete & Pre-Hellenic Europe 1917) plus others during excavations at Knossos/Cnossus (Crete) and linked to those of Egypt by the excavators.

It is known that Egyptian hegemony of parts of the A/A/A coasts of especially that part now more or less Israel plus Palestine started in Pre-Dynastic times.  Evidence of this is thought to include hieroglyphs spelling out the name of Narmer on sherds of local clay found in Egypt who is often seen as the Menes held to be the first true Pharoah of Egypt in the king-list produced by Manetho. Gregory Gilbert (Ancient Egyptian Sea Power & the Rise of Maritime Forces 2009) noted this early Egyptian interest on the Levantine (= Syro/Palestinian). He further says that control of the Levantine coast was essential for doing the same for the hinterland of what today are Palestine, Israel, Lebanon plus Syria.

This would presumably be reinforced by suggested recognition of Egyptian hegemony over Cyprus and adjacent A/A/A coasts. This presumably connects with the commercial triangle of Byblos (Lebanon), Ugarit (= Ras Shamra, Syria) plus Cyprus that was so important to Pharoanic Egypt. Some writers hold that what was called Alashaia/Alashya in antiquity is not what was also anciently called Kupros (= Island of Copper = Cyprus).

The protective/hegemonic role of Egypt argued for by some writers would be strengthened by Egyptian objects of Royal finds on Cyprus. They do occur and include such as a scarab of a Senusret I (at Enkomi); another of Amenhotep III at (at Hala Tekla Sultan); a faience sceptre-head of Horemheb (at Hala Tekla Sultan); an amphora of Seti I (at Phylakopi). These are all Cypriot finds but unfortunately Murray McClelland ((in The Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt 1999) says the Tekla Sultan finds were surface finds only and that they plus the Seti I amphora may be imports of later date.

On the other hand, Campbell-Dunn (The African Origins of Classical Civilisation 2008) says African building techniques lay behind the tholos-type structures. They occur in the Halafian (Syria) and Khirokitia (Cyprus) Cultures. This is line with what is said by messrs. Mourant et al (The distribution of human blood-group & other polymorphisms 1976), Arnaiz-Villena et al (HLA genes in Macedonia & the Sub-Saharan origin of the Greeks 2001), etc. The work of Antonio Arnaiz-Villena et al (ib.) has proved to be controversial but that in the part of mainland Greece called the Peloponnese (= sth. Greece), that work receives some confirmation from the Mourant (ib.) study.

Arthur Mourant et al (ib.) wrote 5 %/6 % CDe indicated an African presence in Cyprus that on what has been said by other writers was presumably inhabited by part of the Pre-Greek Pelasgoi (= People of the Sea?) that included the Carians of Caria plus the Cyclades. It may be no coincidence that the Wikipedia article on The Quaestura Exercritus included Caria, Cyprus and Crete in 7th c. Byzantine Empire. The Senusret I/Sesostris I scarab would concur with Bernal (ib.) mapping the presence of Senusret I on Cyprus. The other finds on Cyprus appear to confirm Egyptian Royal ties with the island that are repeated for centuries to come.

It seems that the Pelasgoi in the Cyclades were mainly Carians. Thucydides (ca. 450- 400 BCE Greek) is thought to be the natural and worthy heir to Herodotus. He tells us that King Minos (ruler of Crete) organised a fleet to drive Carian pirates from the small Aegean archipelago of the Cyclades. The Carians/Garians are held to relate to the people of the same name of what is now southwest Anatolia/Asian Turkey and the Garians/Garamantes of mainly Tunisia/Libya in the Magreb (= north Africa west  of Egypt = most of the Sahara).

Linked to this may be what is written by Spyridon Marinatos, Wendy Logue plus James Brunson. Marinatos (in Bronze Age Migrations in the Aegean edd. messrs. Crosland & Birchall 1974 & elsewhere) and Brunson (in African Presence in Early Europe ed. Ivan Van Sertima 1985 & 2001) both mention the “River” scenes. The connection they make is dismissed out of hand by several other authors. Yet scenes in Egyptian tomb-art evidently relating to the River Nile readily explain why these scenes are termed Nile, River, River Nile Nilotic, etc. These paintings are compared by Brunson (ib.) with a description written by Diodorus Siculus (ca. 50 BCE Sicilian Greek) of a harbour plus hinterland at Lake Triton (Libya). Brunson says this matches scenes at Akrotiri in the Cycladic island of Thera (= Santorini) plus sites in Crete.

Diodorus Siculus also tells us about Daedalus going to study in Egypt and coming back with the methods of representing the proportions of the human body lying behind the earliest Greek statuary. Egyptian grid-patterns are shown in “The Proportions of the Painted Figure” by Manfred Bietak (in The Aegean World = TAW ed. Christos Doumas 1992 & online) to lie behind the Aegean paintings on the walls of Akrotiri (Thera/Santorini). Presumably the Egyptian norms of males painted as red or brown and females as white or yellow plus women shown with one bare breast came to the Aegean at the same time.

It is those in the maritime scenes at Akrotiri that have taken the most attention. The Cyclades were seen to feature in the early Greek accounts about piracy in the Aegean Sea. We also observe that not only do the Carians/Garians figure here and that the Garians/Garamantes are known in the Magreb according to Clyde Winters (Atlantis in Mexico 2005) and Marinatos (ib.) also looks to Magrebi inhabitants as the Macae/Makai neighbours of the Garamantes. The North Miniature Frieze at Akrotiri has attracted considerable notice. The scene shows the everyday business going on but as we come towards the beach, the aftermath of a battle seems depicted. We see soldiers marching away plus dead bodies lying in the sea offshore around vessels. The hair of the slain differs from that normal for the Minoans known throughout the Aegean and seen by Thucydides as having colonised certainly as far away the Cyclades and takes us to the African styles harked to by Marinatos (ib.).

This was in an article entitled “An African on Thera” (Crosland/Birchall ib.) and Brunson (ib.) made further comparisons with hairstyles of crews of several of the vessels depicted in this Theran wall-art that again appear to depart from Theran/Minoan norms. This would appear to be strengthened by yet another such connection. A hairstyle seen across Africa is that involving the forelock, shown by Joseph Olumide Lucas (The Religion of the Yorubas 1949 & 1997) in Nigeria and by Herodotus in Libya and Egypt. This is again shown by Marinatos (ib.) to appear in Creto/Theran art of Minoan type, notably the Boxing Princes of Akrotiri.

Africans as friend and foe was seen in Egypt when Kushite Africans fought for both and against Egypt. This is seemingly the case in the Aegean, as shown by the paintings of Akrotiri on Thera/Santorini plus the Cretan style plus period named after Minos. That identification was made by Sir Arthur Evans. He excavated for some years at what he called the Palace of Minos at Knossos (Crete) and published the results in several volumes between 1921 and 1936.

Egyptian kings bore the title of Pharoah, birth-names, throne-names, epithets, etc. The basic listing of Pharoahs was compiled by Manetho. It emerges from this Manethan king-list that the first was Menes (= Narmer? = Aha?). A frequent comparison is made of Menes and “Minos” and that in Crete, Minos was more a title than a name. There are good historical examples for this. Thus the name Julius Caesar became the title of the Emperor of Rome (as Caesar), Russia (Tsar), Germany (Kaiser), etc. Further is Carolus Magnus (= Charlemagne = Charles the Great) as Latvian karalis, Lithuanian karalius, Polish krol, Czech kral, etc

Evans (ib.) wrote that Egypt was the major determinant in the rise of what he was seen to term the Minoan. In “Egypt & the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age”, John Pendlebury (in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 1930) follows this when writing about “the shared community of blood” between Egypt and Crete. Having seen that an Egyptian name could become a Cretan title, there is also the interesting matter of Egyptian royal motifs and possible Cretan echoes.

An early symbol of Egyptian royalty is the niched facades of “palaces” stylised as the “serekh”. These facades have long been the subject of having been part of what was introduced by Mesopotamians into Egypt but Stan Hendrikx (Gottinger Miszellen 2001) has convincingly argued for a purely Egyptian origin. Certainly to as far back as Evans (ib.), an Egyptian origin for the Cretan serekh has been sought. Another symbol of Egyptian royalty is the bee.

Hilda Ransom (The Bee 1986) shows the bee plus serekh together as Egyptian motifs in Minoan Crete. A famous piece of Cretan jewellery is a gold pendant from Malia (Crete). It is sometimes seen as two wasps facing each other but the fact that they hold a blob of honey between them plus the fact that the placename of Malia seems to be from the Greek word of meli (= honey) strongly indicates this is a bee-pendant. The close association of palace plus bee seen in Egypt again come together at Malia. Here the find-site is one of the palaces of Minoan Crete and has the just-seen bee connections.

Wim Van Binsbergen (Alternative models of interactions towards the oldest Cretan script online) takes this further. He wrote that Egypt is the home of the home of the greatest number of what became the proto-forms of that oldest Cretan script. This script is that termed as Linear A by philologists.

The Pyramid of Amenemhet III has long been thought to be the prototype of the structure that became the Labyrinth held to underlie what Evans (ib.) called the Palace of Minos and famous in Greek myth. Daedalus was seen as the Greek student that Greek tradition says brought the basic techniques of depicting the human body from Egypt to the Aegean plus Greece. He was seen as having brought the concept of the labyrinth from Egypt to Crete by that same Greek tradition and as the architect of the Palace of Minos itself. The Egyptian origin of the Minoan stone-vessel industry of Crete has long been accepted. Underlying this would be the stone bowl bearing the name of Userkaf (of the 5th Dynasty & Pharoah ca. 3500-2490 BCE) from Kythera in the Ionian Islands mainly a little to the west of the Greek mainland.

An Egyptian object found as far west as the Ionian Islands may come as a surprise but that Egyptians had knowledge of such islands may be indicated texts. The earliest of such texts may be “The Lament of Ipuwer”. It has disputed dates but the oldest claim puts it to the late Old Kingdom (ca. 2650-2400 BCE). Another important text is that of Mit Rahina about Senusret I taken by Bernal (ib.) as the equivalent of what Herodotus says about Sesostris who is called Sesoosis by Diodorus and Sechonsis by Manetho.

Even if Bernal is wrong about marrying Mit Rahina and Herodotus on this count to attest actual conquest, hegemony becomes very possible on the basis of other texts showing what may be similar contexts over a period of time during which Egyptian power faded and was revived. Yet another relevant such inscription is on one of the five inscribed on statues in the tomb-complex of Amenhotep III at Kom el-Hetan (Egypt). The places they represent are mapped by Eric Cline (Orientalia 1987) plus others. This especially means that called List En which maps the Egyptian interest in the Aegean of the time.

Between them, Herodotus, Manetho, Diodorus Siculus, etc, attest statues of a particular type spread between Scythia and the Caucasus. The reputation of the cloth made by the Egyptians was such that Herodotus held that these statues were clothed in Africo/Egyptian garb fitting with what was said about the reputation of Egyptian military prowess. Nor should what was said about the recognition of the quality of Egyptian linen to as far away as Colchis/Georgia and Crete be forgotten. The garments of the Aegyptiads (= Egyptians) led by Danaus and Aegyptus also received attention from Greek writers when contrasting their white tunics and the black colour of their legs.

The black legs reported by such as Aeschylus (ca. 525-455 BCE Greek) Apollonius Rhodius (ca. 245 BCE Egypto/Greek), etc, might almost be glossed pictorially by the legs of the figures on the fragments of the mural that Evans (ib.) called “The Captain of the Guard”. Brunson (ib.) compared the stance of these three figures with that of some of those in the crews also painted in the Akrotiri murals. The fragment just referred to came from Knossos and it is unfortunate that only one of the heads has survived but with it undoubtedly standing for all three, it has significance that that once again we are back with analogies for the hair of such African peoples as the Dinka, Shilluk, Bari, etc.

Wendy Logue (ib.) interpreted these Creto/Theran scenes as indicating that Africans were part of the religio/cultural set-up in the Minoan dominated Aegean. It was also shown that such as The Lament of Ipuwer probably represents Egyptian influence to as far west as the Ionian Islands. In the Aegean, Mit Rahina plus Herodotus were seen to combine to probably say the same for the early 12th Dynasty; the Kom el-Hetan inscription in the reign of Amenhotep III; the last may have continued into the reign of Amenhotep IV on the suggestion of some writers that he is none other than the individual that the Greeks called Danaus.

Amenhotep IV was the subject of several of the clay tablets collectively known as the Amarna Letters. One of these “Letters” was from a king of Byblos called Rib-addi. He was explaining why so little copper was being sent from Cyprus via Byblos. He refers to enemy actions as the reason.

Having seen the Gilbert (ib.) comment that to control the hinterland of Syro/Palestine, mastery of the coast was essential, more of the same came from Douglas Lobley (Ships Through the Ages 1979). Lobley (ib.) wrote that the amphibious nature of the campaigns undertaken by Thutmosis/Tuthmosis III brilliantly anticipated those of World War II by millennia. Vassos Karageorghis (Footprints in Cyprus ed. John Hunt 1979) underlines this by telling us why the above-noted copper was being sent. It was being sent as payment for the protection provided by the Egyptian navy.

When we recognise that the Amenhotep IV who was being written to is better known as Akhenaton, it will be quickly realised that Rib-Addi was wasting his time. This is because Akhenaton was rather more into matters of the next world than in the problems of this one. This in turn makes the equation of Akhenaton as Danaus leading an Egyptian fleet to the Aegean then the Greek mainland somewhat unlikely. The more so given that Amenhotep IV/Akhenaton has also been seen as Moses.

It is known that the –mosis of such as Thutmosis plus Ahmose parallel Moses with another spelling coming with the [A]masis of the Greek form of Ahmose. With Ahmose/Amasis and his conquest of Cyprus ca. 570 BCE came one of ancient Egypt’s last great hurrahs.


A single-source attribution of sails would make that point of origin in a pre-mechanised era very influential. Sails of the type from that time were seen on the Atlantic in 1969 (on Ra I) and again in 1970 Ra II. Doubts about the sails of ancient dwellers on Atlantic coasts have been around for millennia. Probably the finest known of Celtic shipbuilders were the Veneti of the coast of what was Gaul/is now France but Julius Caesar was unsure whether their sails were of leather because Celts knew nothing of fabrics or because of the conditions on Atlantic coasts.

Archaeology proves that across the Celtic-speaking spread of Europe from Russia in the east to Ireland in the west, cloth-making is proven. Not only did sails of Atlantic Celts evolve out of Atlantic conditions but those of Atlantic-west Africa of Pre-Colonial days resemble those of the Africa-wide forms shown on the Atlantic by the Ra-type vessels constructed for Thor Heyerdahl (The Ra Voyages 1971). Not only do the sail-forms but also the material of the sails differ from those of the Portuguese who are one half of the Iberian explorers.

The other half of those explorers were the Spaniards and the books by Jack Forbes (1993 & 2007) make very clear that the Amerinds of both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts possessed Pre-Spanish sails. So did the inhabitants of the Pacific islands and the far side of the Pacific from east Siberia and the Chinese coast down to what we have seen are the islands making up ISEA across the Indian Ocean from ISEA via India to east Africa, yet more sails that are decidedly Pre-European in date exist. Eratosthenes shows Egyptian sails on the Indian Ocean respectively and may be matched for shape on the coasts of east Africa facing that same ocean.

Egyptian ships of the Nile had the being built of papyrus reeds plus rigging of those on the Indian Ocean according to Eratosthenes. James Hornell (Water Transport 1946), Shelley Wachsmann (Seagoing Ships & Seamanship in Bronze Age Levant ib.), etc, wrote that along east African coasts from Egypt to Kenya ships were built of end-on planks joined by pegged mortise-&-tenon joints. Reed-ships, steering-oars, quarter rudders, sheer & tripod masts, sails twice as wide as high, being of rectangular shape, booms at the foot of the sails, mid-placed and mat-covered cabins, etc, are more claimed traits of Egyptian origin on the Indian Ocean.

Egyptian-shape sails have probable analogies in Atlantic-west Africa according to Michael Bradley (Dawn Voyage: The Black Discovery of America 1991). Thor Heyerdahl (The Ra Voyages 1971)) shows this somewhat further afield on the Atlantic when taking re-created vessels of ancient Egyptian type on the Atlantic. Mahaf (= whose sight is behind him)/Herehaf (= whose face is behind him) is the back-facing god ferrying the dead into the Otherworld. Jojada Verrips (Ghanaian Canoe Decorations online) plus Shelley Wachsmann (ib.) link back-facing with sea-going boats in Atlantic-facing west Africa and the Aegean respectively.

There are relatively few signs of sails at Akrotiri before a volcanic eruption obliterated the Minoan-age settlement there (ca. 1630/1620 BCE?). However, Frank Yurco (in Black Athena Revisited edd. messrs. Lefkowitz & Rogers 1996) shows Egyptian-type shipbuilding, side-mounted steering-oars, sails plus rigging, etc, occur at Akrotiri. Cabins of Egyptian ships are also thought to give rise to those of Akrotiri murals. Basch is cited by Wachsmann (ib.) as saying that Minoans in Egypt saw boats paddled on the Nile and took the technique back to the Aegean. There it became incorporated into the Cycladic wall-art seen at Akrotiri.

Following Wachsmann on other Egyptian traits in the Aegean runs into a consistent line that involves the Persians as much as it does the Greeks. It will be recalled that permission to erect a statue at what was seen as the temple of Ptah at Thebes (Egypt) by the Persians was refused by the temple-priests and that this stands with the Udjahorresset statue to absolve the Persians of anything that Egyptians would view as crimes. Udjahorresset as a toady of conquerors of his country will be recognised the world over. Nor were the Persians any less prone to looting conquered lands than their coevals and this includes Egypt. They also brutalised the burned mummy of a past Pharoah and tried to destroy the sacred oracle of Siwa (Egypt).

There is no more real evidence that Greeks were so overwhelmed by encountering the Egyptian past any more than were the Persians when in Egypt. It is clear that many Greeks were mightily impressed by the monuments of ancient Egypt but things Egyptian were also the subject of considerable Greek ridicule. Thus the Pyramids are named by their resemblance to the Greek puramos (= honeyed wheat-cake); the Great Sphinx reduced to a schoolboy riddle in Greece; the giant Egyptian columns or obelisks named from Greek obelos (= roasting/cooking-spits). This stands with crocodile from crocodeilos (= lizard), ostrich as struthoi (= sparrow), elephant from elephas (= deer), etc.

James Allen (Swahili Origins 1993) makes not dissimilar points about the vessels of east Africa that the Greeks called ploiarion. For many writers from the days of Richard Burton (Zanzibar & Two Months in East Africa 1858) there is a line of argument for direct ancestry from the ploiaria Rhapta of the PME to the mtepe of east Africa. Allen (ib.) shows the small size of the ploiarion/mtepe class implied by the Greek term of ploiaria belongs with the general Greek disparagement of things non-Greek. Just how large east African mitepe (= plural of mtepe) could be is shown when Burton (ib.) reports they could carry between 80/100 men or11 tons of cargo.

Notwithstanding the Greek contempt, we have seen Egyptians built ships of the same type that kept them in touch with both east Africa (esp. facing the Red Sea) plus the A/A/A-arc of the east Mediterranean (esp. the Aegean Sea). This was what historians called the KPN/KBN type and knowing it was named for a specific trade; we then come to the type named KFTW by those same naval academics.

A considerable number of those maritime historians consider anti-clockwise routes around the A/A/A-arc means Egypt was linked with the Byblos/Ugarit/Cyprus triangle and beyond it, Crete. One of them is Connie Lambros-Philipson (Seafaring in the Bronze Age Mediterranean: The Parameters in Maritime Travel online). One section of her article is entitled “The Improbable Journey: Crete to Egypt”.

The initials KFTW are the non-vowel form more commonly expressed as Keftiu with Western-type vowels inserted. In turn Keftiu/KFTW is taken to refer to the large island at the mouth of the Aegean called Crete. Given that the interpretation of the political situation of the time inside what has been called here the A/A/A-arc is a severely modified version of the extensive arguments of Bernal (ib), both the Byblos/Ugarit/Cyprus triangle plus the Aegean/Cretan end of things would be friendly towards Egypt but would surely have involved constant coming into harbour and/or constant transhipment that would considerably raise the cost of carrying cargoes.

Both Lambrou-Phillipson (ib.) plus Binsbergen (ib.) summarise other views on this matter but come down on opposite sides. A particular point of the former’s article is that celestial navigation came with the Greeks but not unexpectedly, there are a number of theories on this matter. That of Michael Ovenden (The Philosophical Journal 1966) plus others is explained in “The origins of the constellations”. He is of the opinion that this star-based navigation was underway by ca. 2500 BCE. If so, this would mean that objections to a direct route from Egypt to Crete based on a theorised lack of celestial/star-based navigation are removed from consideration. Gorlitz (ib.) adds another dimension when arguing the presence of what he calls swords (= guaras) on ships copied from the Wadi rock-art in Egypt means they could cope with countervailing winds much more effectively than previously supposed.

Nor would this be the only instance of star-based maritime navigation, as made plain by Gerald Tibbetts (Arab Navigation in the Indian Ocean before the Coming of the Portuguese 1971). He also cites Arab use of birds as navigational aids at sea. The Dictionary of Deities & Demons in the Bible (edd. by messrs van der Toom, Becking & van der Horst 1999 [online excerpts]) show the ba-bird of elsewhere as a pigeon. Ravens plus pigeons are used as navigational aids in the Middle East according to tales about Ziusudra (in the Greek version called Xisuthros), Atrahasis, Utnapishtim but above all, Noah.

Two birds above a shown above a boat by Paul Johnstone (Sea-craft of Prehistory1980) may be a depiction of this is on baked-clay object from the Harappan era of “Greater India”. Buddhist plus Hindu texts of India are shown by James Hornell (Antiquity 1946) to attest “The Role of Birds in Early Navigation”. Prakash Charan Prasad (Foreign Trade & Commerce of Ancient India 1995 [online version]) says this is called disakara (= seabirds used for direction) in India.

Among the islands of the Indian Ocean, Pliny shows birds used to find direction but says this is because of a lack of scientific knowledge. The high level of civilisation in other places plus in ancient Sri Lanka means Pliny is wrong on this count. James Frazer (The Folklore in the Old Testament 1913) and Robert Dick-Read (The Phantom Voyagers 2004) attest more of the same in the islands of “Indonesia”/ISEA. Dick-Read (ib.) felt the “foreigners” using doves noted in China in “The Wang Papers” by Wang Tang (12th c. Chinese) were Austronesians from Indonesia.

The Austronesians were also a major source of the ancestry of the Polynesians of the Pacific. From Ben Finney (Voyage of Rediscovery 1994), it emerges that Polynesians followed such birds as the bob-tailed godwit plus long-tailed cuckoo to New Zealand; bristle-thighed curlew, ruddy turnstone, golden plover, etc, to Hawaii; fairy terns to Easter Islands. These islands are the remotest points of land in the world but Easter Island is thought to be the remotest of all yet they may not have been the only people who knew it in antiquity.

According to Thor Heyerdahl (American Indians in the Pacific 1952; Early Man & the Ocean1977), Amerinds (= American Indians = Native Americans) from Peru knew the near neighbour of Rapa Nui (= Easter Island) called Sala-y-Gomez as Coatu itself marked by large flocks of seabirds. Amerinds of the Atlantic coasts of the Americas evidently knew the largest island off east Mexico as Cozumel (= Island of Birds). Rather further out on the Atlantic are the Azores. On the authority of none other than Christopher Columbus, a canoe with crew aboard with faces neither African nor European was found in these islands themselves marked by large flocks of birds, as also known to the Portuguese discoverers of the Azores.

The largest of the Atlantic islands is Iceland. Christopher Hawkes (Pytheas: Europe & the Greek Explorers = Annual Myres Lecture 1977) thought Pytheas (ca. 2300 B.P.? Greek) followed Hooper swans there. Dicuil (8th c. Irish) wrote of Pre-Viking Irishmen in the Faroe Islands then Iceland further going along the same path. George Marcus (The Conquest of the North Atlantic 1980) cites a story about how the Viking named Floki (9th c. Viking) got his Rabe (= Raven) nickname. This was from his Noah-style sending out of three ravens. The first two returned, the third did not and its flight was followed and Iceland was rediscovered.

Just how closely Irish Sea and points north of the settlement of the Celts marry with the path of seasonally migratory birds has long been known. A Celto/Irish myth tells of Bran whose name means raven and who sought a fabulous island that stripped of the fantastic, probably marks more use of ravens to espy land. Of more Atlantic Celts in Iberia (= Spain & Portugal), Geoffrey of Monmouth (12th c. British) wrote that the Druid-like Pellitus “knew of the ways of the birds & stars”.

Robert Graves (The Greek Myths[several editions]) plus Ellie Crystal (Pleiades online) shows the origin of the term of Pleiades comes from a confusion of peleaides (= pigeons) and plein (= sailing-stars?). The Pleiades as islands were specifically put off the coast of west Africa in antiquity. Van Sertima (1976) and Hornell 1946) shows this was also known to the scholars of the great west African empires and to Gomez Zurara (15th c. Port.) in the west Magreb. John Dyson (Gold, God & Glory 1991) cites Columbus saying large numbers drew you to the Cape Verde Islands. West Africa also seems to have known the principle of the ba-bird.

Large seabirds were also drew attention to the coast of east Africa according to Cosmas Indicopleustes (= C. the Traveller to India [7th c. Egyptian Greek]). This matches what Jean Barbot (17th/18th c. French) says of west Africa. Still with east Africa, a version of the Noah-type sending out of ravens is shown by Hornell (1946) on the island of Zanzibar. The principle of birds followed into port by boats seems to combine into such as the swan-shaped neck of the east African seacraft seen to have been called mitepe.

The concept of a vessel with a bird or fish at its ends is also seen in the Aegean but it was also shown that at one stage there seems to have no standard order in which the bird or fish faces. It is known the two forms sometimes merge, as in west African canoe-art and the kuraik seen to off east Africa according to Tibbetts (ib.) can be as either bird or fish. Apollonius Rhodius wrote a long account of the Voyage of the Argonaut. He reports Idmon plus Mopsus paid attention to the flight of birds for direction as much as for augury. Campbell-Dunn (ib.) saw the Cycladic objects of frying-pan shape as having possible ba-bird functions.

The several mentions of ba-birds show they are worldwide but by far the most complete history of what lies behind it in Egypt. Here it is seen as part of the “Opening the Mouth” rites as a human-headed bird. Not only does it guide the soul to the Otherworld but in the text called “A Man Talks to his Ba”, we read of the bird guiding the soul into the harbour. More imagery is that of birds as sails in “The Tale of Wen-Amon”. This possibly relates to the sky-as-sail of the Swahili (as Campbell-Dunn ib.). Yet surely closer would be the birds-as-sky of Polynesians (as Finney ib.) and for whom there is no difficulty of proving birds as navigational aids for sailors.

Revised 2010 (


Photos courtesy of Wikipedia

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