From John Ray's shorter notes

June 10, 2017

Were ancient Egyptians black?

As I have noted here previously, it has become common for blacks (sub-Saharan Africans) to claim ancient Egypt as their own. Some busts and pictures of ancient Egyptians that have been found in the excavated tombs do show rather African features. Against that I have pointed out the light skin of the famous bust of Nefertiti

The matter would now seem pretty well resolved. With great effort, geneticists have extracted DNA from ancient Egyptian remains. Analysis of the DNA shows that the ancient Egyptians had little black ancestry. They were a lightly pigmented people like other Mediterraneans. Research report here

Colors can of course change over time but it is notable in the tomb paintings that most of the people are portrayed as light brown -- but also with a few of the characters being quite black. The contrast is strong and presumably realistic.

This painting by an ancient Egyptian artist shows Nubians bringing gold to the Pharaoh. Obviously differences in skin color registered in the minds of ancient Egyptians

It is possible that Egyptians were normally suntanned. They were sun worshippers so tanning was probably as prestigious then as it is among many people in our society. That would account for the people in the tomb paintings being somewhat browner than most modern Mediterraneans

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