Volume 1: Methodology

The Black Athena Thesis of Martin Bernal
In 1987, Martin Bernal published Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization: Volume I: The Fabrication of Greece 1785-1985.  It  was recognized as one of the more provocative and invigorating studies of Ancient Mediterranean and Afroasiatic civilization in recent decades.   Following its publication scholars and teachers from Ivy League institutions down to secondary school teachers.  Bernal’s thesis was rather straight-forward and comprised of three main ideas:
  1. Ancient Egyptian civilization was fundamentally an African civilization.
  2. Ancient Egyptian and the Semitic speaking peoples of Southwest Asia exerted influence on Ancient Greece.
  3. The Greeks and Mediterranean peoples in the 2nd millenium BCE absorbed Ancient Egyptian and Semitic culture and languages.  

Contrary to later theories, proponents and critics of Bernal, the author steadfastly denies that he claimed that the Ancient Greeks were Black or that the Ancient Egyptians all had recognizably sub-Saharan, Black or other African physical features. 

Bernal outlined elements of Greek civilization and culture that derived from Egyptian culture and influence.   This included the origins of Greek religion and the naming of their gods.  Some Greeks, like Herodotus (484-425 BCE) openly wrote in his Histories, that the Greeks derived the names of their gods from Egyptian cosmology and religion.

These ancient Greeks also maintained that their writing system and alphabet was derived from the Phoenicians of the Eastern Mediterranean.  

Together, these beliefs by ancient Greeks formed what Bernal calls the “Ancient Model” or explanation of Greek origins.  Bernal believes the Ancient Model was intact until recent times, or until the late 18th century, when a new theory arose that tried to separate Greek contact with the wider Mediterranean and particularly with the Southern Mediterranean and Egyptian or African regions.  A second  thesis or model arose in the early 19th century and was labeled as the “Aryan Model,” as it upheld the identification of the Greeks as a unique and relatively isolated people who developed in autonomy from these other peoples.  Bernal explains the success of this later model based on a racist preference for White and Caucasian origins that were prevalent in an age of open slavery and colonialism by Europeans.  
Upholders of the "Aryan Model" had their own theories rooted in the presumption that the Greek language was closely related to Sanskrit and Latin. Together these languages formed an Indo-European linguistic family that bridged from Northern India through Central Asia to Western Europe.  Greek origins were more directly attributed to direct influence from Northern invaders, Indo-Europeans or the so-called Aryans.  

In subsequent volumes of his Black Athena project, Bernal introduced a third thesis:  the Revised Ancient Model.  He accepts that Indo-European influences occurred and that substantial migrations from the North occurred in antiquity.  He maintains this does not conflict with Bernal’s main thesis that the Greeks had substantial settlements from the South and East during the 2nd millennium BCE.  To provide extensive documentation of this period, Bernal published his second volume, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization: Volume II: The Archaeological and Documentary Evidence (1991).   
Instead, there was a soup of Indo-European, Pre-Hellenic cultures and linguistic groups that resulted in an admixture of Ancient Egyptian and West Semitic peoples and languages. Ancient Egyptian and Western Semitic languages belong to the broader Afroasiatic language that wwere suffused onto the Indo-Euorpean basic root language and culture of the Greeks.  The documentation of Bernal’s thesis based on linguistic mixing was published as the third volume, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization: Volume III: The Linguistic Evidence. (2006)

Reference:  see Bernal's own summary website of his arguments  http://www.blackathena.com