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About the book
  • Published: 6 July 1993
  • ISBN: 9780099887805
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 608
  • RRP: $29.99
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Black Athena

The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization Volume One:The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985




Winner of the American Book Award and a Socialist Review Book Award.



What is classical about Classical Civilization? In one of the most audacious works of scholarship ever written, Martin Bernal challenges the whole basis of our thinking about this question.

Classical civilisation, Martin Bernal argues, has deep roots in Afro-Asiatic cultures. But these Afro-Asiatic influences have been systematically ignored, denied, or suppressed since the eighteenth century - chiefly for racist reasons.

The popular view is that Greek civilisation was the result of the conquest of a sophisticated but weak native population by vigorous Indo-European speakers--or Aryans--from the North. But the Classical Greeks, Bernal argues, knew nothing of this "Aryan model." They did not see their political institutions, science, philosophy, or religion as original, but rather as derived from the East in general, and Egypt in particular.

Black Athena is a three-volume work. Volume 1 concentrates on the crucial period between 1785 and 1850, which saw the Romantic and racist reaction to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and the consolidation of Northern expansion into other continents.

In an unprecedented tour de force, Bernal makes meaningful links between a wide range of areas and disciplines--drama poetry, myth, theological controversy, esoteric religion, philosophy, biography, language, historical narrative, and the emergence of "modern scholarship."

  • Pub date: 6 July 1993
  • ISBN: 9780099887805
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 608
  • RRP: $29.99

About the Author

Martin Bernal

Martin Bernal was Professor Emeritus of Government Studies at Cornell University, specialising in ancient African civilisations and origins of Western civilisations. He was educated at Darrington and King’s College, Cambridge, where he was a research fellow and tutor. He was published widely on the subject of modern Chinese history.


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