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What did the Ancient Egyptians look like?

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:48 pm
by Borderlands of Rojava
So in recent news people are mad. People are angry. And the mob is out for blood. You may be wondering what has large numbers of people pissed off now, and the truth is, it's complicated. What happened? Well

Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Cleopatra, ancient queen of Egypt, in an upcoming film that will reunite her with "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins.


Alot of people are up in arms that Gal Gadot, a Jewish Israeli woman, will be playing Cleopatra, a woman of color. People are asking why a "person of color" wasn't instead tapped to play the role and they consider this to be Hollywood once again whitewashing history.

Now for my personal opinion. I dont see why this should make anyone mad. If the issue is "was a person of color represented," one could make the case that Gadot, whose lineage traces back to the middle east, could count as a POC. Many however seem to have wanted a black actress to play the role instead and this is where things get messy. The truth is the ancient Egyptians genetically and phenotypically were actually close to the Jews of today. According to Haaretz:

Even if Cleopatra herself was a local woman and not an inbred Macedonian aristocrat, Gadot would still be appropriate to play the role – perhaps even more so. Genetic analysis of 90 mummified remains of ancient Egyptians who lived between 1388 B.C.E. (just before the time of Ramses II) to 426 C.E. (the late Roman period) concluded that these people (not just the Egyptian elites but ordinary folk whose remains were preserved) had “higher affinities with modern populations from the Near East and the Levant compared to modern Egyptians,” according to the 2017 study published in Nature Communications.

The fact that the ancient Egyptians’ closest living relatives are people who live in Israel, Jordan and the surrounding region today, and not modern Egyptians, is not entirely surprising. We know that in antiquity there was often massive immigration from the Levant, especially from Canaan, into pharaonic Egypt.

Meanwhile, the same study found that today’s Egyptians have a much stronger African genetic component than their pharaonic ancestors, which stems from an influx from sub-Saharan Africa well after the Roman period, in other words long, long after Cleopatra lived.

The mummy DNA study highlights the irony of the anti-Gadot campaign. Inadvertently it makes a very good argument for casting the Israeli actress in the role of the Egyptian queen. If indeed Cleopatra had mixed Greek and ancient Egyptian heritage and if we accept that ancestry should be a factor when choosing an actor to play a historical character (a big if) then someone of European and Levantine descent such as Gadot seems like a good match. In fact, this would seem like the closest match we could get without actually bringing back to life an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, and anyone who has seen “The Mummy” knows that that would be an extraordinarily bad idea.


The Mummy, official trailer YouTube
The Khazar myth

Of course there will always be those who will argue that Ashkenazim, Jews of Eastern European descent like Gadot, are just white Europeans and have no link to the ancient Israelites or other inhabitants of the Levant. The idea is based on the theory, itself colored by a strong political bias, that Ashkenazim descended from the Khazars, a Caucasian people who converted to Judaism during the Middle Ages. This thesis continues to hold some currency, especially in anti-Israel and antisemitic circles, even though a plethora of historical and genetic studies have debunked it. As an example, one study, published in 2014 in Nature Communications, sequenced the genome of 128 Ashkenazi Jews and concluded that this group “is an even mix of European and Middle Eastern ancestral populations.”


This entire controversy has been digging up a much older battle over the phenotype of the ancient Egyptians. Battle lines have been drawn for some time now between a set of three camps. Historically, many Nordicists have tried to claim the existence of a Nordic Egypt, while afrocentrists claim that the Egyptians were "black." And mediterraneanists obviously put their hat in the ring too. Imo the Egyptians of today, who share a majority of their genetic heritage with the ancient Egyptians, probably share a physical resemblance with their forefathers. What is your opinion NSers? Is the black Egypt hypothesis realistic? Did the Egyptians then look as they do now? Were they nordic? Were they something else altogether? Let me know down below.

Sources cited:

https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.pr ... -1.9236953

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/15/entertai ... index.html

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 6:56 pm
by Albrenia
I don't know how people can work up the effort to get angry about this sort of thing. It's entertainment. I'm pretty sure they won't be speaking the correct language for the time, either.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:00 pm
by Borderlands of Rojava
Albrenia wrote:I don't know how people can work up the effort to get angry about this sort of thing. It's entertainment. I'm pretty sure they won't be speaking the correct language for the time, either.


Remember that movie, the death of Stalin, when they were speaking British English but were supposed to be Russian? If that was okay, I don't see why this is not.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:02 pm
by The Marlborough
Borderlands of Rojava wrote:will be playing Cleopatra, a woman of color.

Since when are Greeks POC?

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:03 pm
by Borderlands of Rojava
The Marlborough wrote:
Borderlands of Rojava wrote:will be playing Cleopatra, a woman of color.

Since when are Greeks POC?


Australian RePublic would beg to differ.

To be serious though, she was half Egyptian. Of course, a half Egyptian half Greek person probably looks no more "of color" than a full blooded Greek.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:03 pm
by The Marlborough
Borderlands of Rojava wrote:
Albrenia wrote:I don't know how people can work up the effort to get angry about this sort of thing. It's entertainment. I'm pretty sure they won't be speaking the correct language for the time, either.


Remember that movie, the death of Stalin, when they were speaking British English but were supposed to be Russian? If that was okay, I don't see why this is not.

Tbf the use of regional English accents in that movie was done on purpose to reflect the varied backgrounds of each character.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:04 pm
by Insaanistan
I heard about this, and no, an Israeli should not play an Egyptian queen.

As for what the ancient Egyptians looked like, well, that would be a lot like asking what an Arab looks like.
However, to say “Ancient Egyptian were white” would be false.
While yes, there were periods when ethnic Greeks ruled Egypt, occasional intermixing with black and brown Egyptians and life under the hot Egyptian sun had made them much darker than their Aegean counterparts. Egyptians were varying mixes of Abyssinian, Nubian/Kushite, Greek and Italian, and Coptic ancestry. Now, it’s that plus Arab ancestry, occasionally some Turkish ancestry, and in some relatively rare cases, Hausa ancestry.

Basically, if you want to portray an Egyptian correctly, use an actual Egyptian, or your average Arab, or even an Ethiopian or Sudanese.

But not an Israeli. Definitely not an Israeli.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:04 pm
by Nanatsu no Tsuki
Did Elizabeth Taylor get this much hate when she was cast as Cleo herself? I mean, it’s just another movie. Don’t expect much authenticity.

As for what ancient Egyptians looked like, I’ve heard a few historians say they may have looked similar to people from the Levant. This from DNA sequencing performed on several mummies.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:05 pm
by The Marlborough
Borderlands of Rojava wrote:
The Marlborough wrote:Since when are Greeks POC?


Australian RePublic would beg to differ.

To be serious though, she was half Egyptian. Of course, a half Egyptian half Greek person probably looks no more "of color" than a full blooded Greek.

That she was half Egyptian is only speculation. Not to mention that MENA people have been considered Caucasian since racial theory was invented.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:05 pm
by Atheris
A person of Middle Eastern descent is playing a woman (kind of) from the Middle East! The outrage! The horror!

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:06 pm
by Albrenia
I don't think it has anything to do with racism anyway. Gal Gadot obviously has a lot more pulling power for ticket sales than anyone else they could get involved.

They'd cast Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Cleopatra if they thought it would sell more tickets.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:07 pm
by Atheris
Albrenia wrote:I don't think it has anything to do with racism anyway. Gal Gadot obviously has a lot more pulling power for ticket sales than anyone else they could get involved.

They'd cast Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Cleopatra if they thought it would sell more tickets.

No lie, I really want to see that. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Cleopatra sounds awesome.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:07 pm
by Insaanistan
The Marlborough wrote:
Borderlands of Rojava wrote:
Australian RePublic would beg to differ.

To be serious though, she was half Egyptian. Of course, a half Egyptian half Greek person probably looks no more "of color" than a full blooded Greek.

That she was half Egyptian is only speculation. Not to mention that MENA people have been considered Caucasian since racial theory was invented.

Caucasian doesn’t mean white. Genetically speaking, this person is Caucasian:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=htt ... AdAAAAABAD

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:08 pm
by The Marlborough
Also even if Cleopatra was half Egyptian, an Israeli would be a more accurate pick over someone from, say, Iraq or Algeria or the UAE.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:08 pm
by Neanderthaland
Albrenia wrote:I don't think it has anything to do with racism anyway. Gal Gadot obviously has a lot more pulling power for ticket sales than anyone else they could get involved.

They'd cast Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Cleopatra if they thought it would sell more tickets.

I would see that movie.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:10 pm
by Nanatsu no Tsuki
Neanderthaland wrote:
Albrenia wrote:I don't think it has anything to do with racism anyway. Gal Gadot obviously has a lot more pulling power for ticket sales than anyone else they could get involved.

They'd cast Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Cleopatra if they thought it would sell more tickets.

I would see that movie.


The Ptolemys weren’t very physically gifted so The Rock with a wig could pull it off.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:10 pm
by Insaanistan
Atheris wrote:A person of Middle Eastern descent is playing a woman (kind of) from the Middle East! The outrage! The horror!


Considering most Israelis are of mainly or entirely Eastern and Central European descent and like Gabot look visibly European, and Cleopatra would likely have looked at least moderately brown-skinned, and the history of Egyptian history being whitewashed, I’d say the anger is justifiable.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:10 pm
by Insaanistan
The Marlborough wrote:Also even if Cleopatra was half Egyptian, an Israeli would be a more accurate pick over someone from, say, Iraq or Algeria or the UAE.


Eeeeeeeeeehhhhhh... not really.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:13 pm
by Atheris
Insaanistan wrote:
Atheris wrote:A person of Middle Eastern descent is playing a woman (kind of) from the Middle East! The outrage! The horror!


Considering most Israelis are of mainly or entirely Eastern and Central European descent and like Gabot look visibly European, and Cleopatra would likely have looked at least moderately brown-skinned, and the history of Egyptian history being whitewashed, I’d say the anger is justifiable.

Well, the Ptolemaic dynasty wasn't natively Middle Eastern, either. They were from Greece. You know, Eastern Europe.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:13 pm
by Kyundao
It's not just West Asians that the Egyptians look like, the Berbers look very similar as well. When you look at any given ethnic group in their homeland, they tend to resemble their neighbors.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:14 pm
by Sorra and Olrisa
Insaanistan wrote:
The Marlborough wrote:Also even if Cleopatra was half Egyptian, an Israeli would be a more accurate pick over someone from, say, Iraq or Algeria or the UAE.


Eeeeeeeeeehhhhhh... not really.

I'm not very learned on that region of the world. But, don't most Israelis that appear distinctly 'Israeli' when compared with their neighbors have a significant amount of European admixture in their ancestry? And can reasonably pass, be accepted as white people? Sephardic and Ashkenazi in particular. I don't know much about Jews that never left the Middle East to begin with. But I would imagine that they look more like Arabs and North Africans.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:14 pm
by Nanatsu no Tsuki
Kyundao wrote:It's not just West Asians that the Egyptians look like, the Berbers look very similar as well. When you look at any given ethnic group in their homeland, they tend to resemble their neighbors.


There have been shifts, with modern Egyptians sharing some percentage with Africa now but OP is talking about ancient Egyptians.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:15 pm
by The Marlborough
Insaanistan wrote:
Atheris wrote:A person of Middle Eastern descent is playing a woman (kind of) from the Middle East! The outrage! The horror!


Considering most Israelis are of mainly or entirely Eastern and Central European descent and like Gabot look visibly European, and Cleopatra would likely have looked at least moderately brown-skinned, and the history of Egyptian history being whitewashed, I’d say the anger is justifiable.

Most Ashkenazim are genetically closest to ME, specifically Levantine, populations (paternally).

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:15 pm
by The Marlborough
Atheris wrote:
Insaanistan wrote:
Considering most Israelis are of mainly or entirely Eastern and Central European descent and like Gabot look visibly European, and Cleopatra would likely have looked at least moderately brown-skinned, and the history of Egyptian history being whitewashed, I’d say the anger is justifiable.

Well, the Ptolemaic dynasty wasn't natively Middle Eastern, either. They were from Greece. You know, Eastern Europe.

Southern*.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:19 pm
by Kyundao
Sorra and Olrisa wrote:
Insaanistan wrote:
Eeeeeeeeeehhhhhh... not really.

I'm not very learned on that region of the world. But, don't most Israelis that appear distinctly 'Israeli' when compared with their neighbors have a significant amount of European admixture in their ancestry? And can reasonably pass, be accepted as white people? Sephardic and Ashkenazi in particular. I don't know much about Jews that never left the Middle East to begin with. But I would imagine that they look more like Arabs and North Africans.


Just because a Jewish person is from Eastern Europe doesn't mean that Jewish person is racially European. Genetically the Jewish people as a whole are West Asian; their Y-DNA haplogroups are not European in origin and most of their mtDNA haplogroups aren't European either. On top of this, a lot of West Asians can easily pass off as Southern European.