5. Diop and the Myth of the Semitic Half-Breeds
In scholarly and lay Afrocentric circles it is popularly believed that Semites are by definition half (semi)-breeds, Black and White crossbreeds. This perspective was argued forcefully, for example, by historian, scientist, and scholar par excellence Cheikh Anta Diop who, due to his impeccable academic credentials, gave this perspective an air of unassailability. This is, however, one of the few areas of Diop’s tremendous scholarly output that must be updated and corrected in the light of new data.
According to Diop,
Anthropologically and culturally speaking, the Semitic world was born during protohistoric times from the mixture of white-skinned and black-skinned people in Western Asia.
He further argues that:
The formation of the Semitic branch occurred between the fifth and fourth millennium (BCE). This was a genuine interbreeding between White (non-Mongoloid Cro-Magnon) and Black at the beginning of the historical era…the Negro type…inhabited the Arabian Peninsula in Neolithic times. This type...progressively crossbred with White elements [who] came from the northeast to give rise finally to the Arabian type. Not until the Sabean era, 1000 BC, was this crossbreeding completed in the south.
Thus, Semites in general and Arabs in particular are by definition half-breeds:
All Semites (Arabs and Jews)…are mixed breeds of Blacks and Whites; the Arab race cannot be conceived as anything but a mixture of Blacks and Whites; the entire Arab people, including the Prophet, are mixed with Negro blood.
Diop’s ethno-historical reconstruction of Arabia, Arabs, and Semites is problematic on a number ofa priori and a posteriori counts. First, his perspective is a bit incoherent and difficult to follow. Thus, in his magnum opus, Civilization and Barbarism, Diop affirms that “The formation of the Semitic branch occurred between the fifth and fourth millennium” (54). Yet, on page 23, Diop states that in the fifth millennium “Semites do not yet exists” and that the first appearance of Semites was 2,400 BCE with the Semitic Akkadians. On the other hand, Diop suggests that it was in fact “the Jewish people,” not the Akkadians, who were “the first branch called Semites.” Among the evidence he cites for the latter claim is a XIIth Dynasty Egyptian depiction of White ‘Hebrews’ and an 11th century CE Byzantine image of a white Abraham. Diop further describes the Semites as a brachycephalic (round-headed) yellow-skinned race and says: “Semites (Akkadians, Arabs, Jews) 5,000 years ago.” It is thus not at all clear whether the Akkadians, who appear in history in the fifth millennium, or Jews who appear much later, are the first Semites, and it is not clear whether the Semites go back to the fifth millennium, the third millennium or the second millennium (the time of Araham).
Regarding Arabs in particular, Diop noted:
I have demonstrated in my earlier books all the biological and cultural kinship between Arabs and Black Africans, a kinship so old that it goes back to the fifth millennium B.C. and the beginning of the fourth with the birth of the Semitic world.
Diop argues, correctly, that the original population of Arabia was a Negro/Kushite type, and that in fact, “prior to the eighteenth century B.C., only Negros (Kushites, in official terminology) were found in the region of Arabia. Infiltrations before the second millennium were relatively insignificant.” In the eighteenth century B.C. a group of wild, barbaric white hordes (“Jectanides”) entered the Peninsula from the northeast and destroyed the early Arabian Kushite empire. Soon, however, the indigenous Kushites regained political and cultural control, and these early Whites were absorbed culturally by the Kushites. These defeated Whites and subsequent half-breeds who now share the language and customs of the Arabian Kushites are, we are given to believe, ‘the Arab race’ and ‘Semites’. Thus,
…it is important to change our notions about the Semite. Whether in Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, or Arabia, the Semite, insofar as he is discernible objectively, appears as the product of Negro-White mixture.
5.1. Semitism an African Phenomenon
A review of the current data forces us to admit that Diop’s conclusions regarding the Semites in general and the Akkadians and Arabs in particular are unsustainable. The Semites, as we saw above, were no Asian half-breeds, but indigenous Africans who, having likely originated in Middle Africa and separating from its parent Afro-asiatic stock, descended the Nile and crossed over into Afrabia. Ehret and Marniche both make the point:
The early Semites were just a few Africans arriving (in the Levant) to find a lot of other people already in the area.
the indigenous or ‘black’ tribes of Arabia were those who in ancient times migrated from Africa…and were the earliest purveyors and dispersers of the Semitic dialects.
How old are the Semites? It is hard to say. Proto-Semitic’s close language contacts with Libyco-Berber and with Cushitic suggested to Edward Lipiński that the Proto-Semites were still dwelling in Africa in the fifth millennium and passed through the Nile delta from West to East, reaching Western Asia (Afrabia) in the third millennium. del Olmo Lete seems to agree, placing the Proto Semitic divergence from the parent stock in the Chalcolithic period (5,300-1,700 BCE) and their arrival in the Levant around the fourth millennium. On the other hand, Russian linguist Igor Diakonoff made a strong case for the earliest Semitic society being that represented by the Jericho culture of eighth-seventh millennium Palestine. These conclusions are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as it is known that more than one wave of Semites likely branched out from its Middle African homeland at different time periods.
The peoples whom the early African Semites encountered in the Levant and likely mingled with were themselves Africoid peoples: the Mushabians and the Natufians. The oldest modernhomo sapien skull discovered in that area, the Qafzeh 9 skull discovered in 1969 in a cave in Israel and dated 100, 000 years old, is that of an African woman (Figure 9). Thus, no Black-White Semitic mulattos are anywhere on the scene, as the Neolithic “Europeans” were themselves non-European and indeed Africoid.
It is no surprise that all modern European groups, ranging all the way from Scandinavia to eastern Europe and throughout the Mediterranean to the Middle East, show that they are closely related to each other. The surprise is that the Neolithic peoples of Europe and their Bronze Age successors are not closely related to the modern inhabitants…It is a further surprise that the Epipalaeolithic Natufian of Israel from which the Neolithic realm was assumed to arise has a clear link with sub-Saharan Africa.
Qafzeh 9 Skull, reconstructed by facial reconstruction expert Richard Neave of Manchester, England from cast provided by the Natural History Museum of London.
5.2. The Akkadians
Judging from the physical and textual remains, pre-historic and early historic Mesopotamia consisted of three ethnic groups: A ‘Sumerian’ group inhabiting the south whose language-relationships are still a matter of conjecture; a Semitic-speaking group in the North –Central area, an area called Akkad; a small minority of uncertain origin diffused throughout. These latter may be related to the groups north and east of Akkad from the Zargos Mountains, a people “fair-haired and speaking a ‘Caucasian’ tongue, a hill-people akin to the Guti.”
The Akkadians of the north give us our oldest textual evidence of a Semitic language. Akkadian personal names appear in Sumerian texts dated to about 2700 - 2600 BCE and connected Akkadian texts appear c. 2350. This textual evidence should not however be taken to suggest that Semites only then appeared on the Mesopotamian plain. Semites – either Akkadians or a Semitic language group that had settled before them - may very well have contributed to the urbanization that took place at the end of the fourth millennium. The Sumerian king list places the first dynasty of Kish, together with a series of kings bearing Akkadian names, immediately after the Flood.
It was once thought that Sumer in the south and Akkad in the north “stood in sharp contrast,” “distinguished by the race and language of those who lived in them.” We know better today. As Georges Roux notes:
it must be pointed out that not a single Sumerian text refers to the Akkadians as enemies, invaders or nomads…it appears clearly that the Akkadians practiced agriculture, lived in villages and towns and shared the way of life, the religion and culture of their Sumerian neighbors. So far as we know at the present time, the only obvious difference between Akkadians and the Sumerians is a linguistic one; in all other respects these two ethnic groups are indistinguishable.
The physical remains confirm this near indistinguishability of the Sumerians and Akkadians. Excavations conducted at the beginning of the 20th century in al-‘Ubaid (c. 4000 BCE) and Ur (c.1900-1700 BCE) in the south and Kish (c. 2900-2800 BCE) in the north produced human remains of the two main ethnic groups inhabiting the area. The finds from al-‘Ubaid represent the remains of the country’s earlier Sumerian inhabitants, and those in Ur Akkadians, while in Kish a mix of both groups, Sumerians and Akkadians, is represented. At Kish, evidence of the penetration of a third ethic group into North Mesopotamia is present.
Sir Arthur Keith of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, England, reported on the al-‘Ubaid and Ur remains. Both were dolichocephalic, with long and narrow heads. The Ur remains were of a people with a more narrow head than the al-‘Ubaidians, and this suggested to Keith that by the second millennium a new people had entered the area. But, Keith emphasizes, the people of al-‘Ubaid and Ur are but variations of a singular physical type with a common racial origin, “a cousin people.” Indeed, the cranial types are nearly indistinguishable. The human remains of Kish confirm the same.
The remains reported on by L.H. Dudley and D. Talbot Rice in 1931 for the Field Museum and Oxford Expedition were excavated in a fourth millennium Sumerian palace in Eastern Kish used as a cemetery by a Semitic (Akkadian) dynasty of the third millennium. Both Sumerians and Akkadians were buried there, and it is thus no surprise that both physical types found by Keith in al-‘Ubaid and Ur were found together among the Kish remains. Buxton and Rice offer a revealing description of these remains. Regarding the Sumerian remains:
The forehead was retreating and the brow ridges were always prominent, the cheek bones were rather broad and the nose also was broad, in some case inclining to extreme platyrrhine…There can be no doubt that this type is that which has been described by Sergi, Giuffrida-Ruggeri, and Fleure, and named the Eurafican type…
Regarding the Akkadian remains:
The second type is also dolichocephalic, and in some case it is not always easy to distinguish it from the other, although typical specimens are clear enough. The main distinction occurs in the contours which are rounded, when viewed from the top, and not angular as in the previous type. The eyebrow ridges which in the first type were well marked are nearly absent, and the occiput is especially prominent. The orbits are usually horizontal and the whole build is markedly slender.There can be little hesitation in ascribing this type to the people who have been called by Elliot Smith ‘the brown race.’
The Sumerian remains show a strongly negroid nose, while other features are non-negroid, using “negroid” here in the anthropological sense, i.e. dolicranic (longheaded), platyrhine (broad nose), high facial index (short broad face) prognathous (protruding upper jaw/lower face) and ulotrious (wooly hair). And while the Akkadian features are less robust than those of the Sumerian, the two groups are clearly variations of the same type, and thus are ethnically related. Buxton and Rice use loaded terms to describe these two populations: Eurafrican and ‘brown race’/Mediterranean type. As Runoko Rashidi aptly notes, these are “ridiculous ethnic euphemisms,” and Diop correctly exposed these terms as “simply a euphemism for negro (i.e. Black person generally).” G. Sergie describes this alleged ‘racial type’ in his The Mediterranean Race: A Study of the Origin of European Peoples:
this stock in its external features is a brown human variety, neither white nor negroid, but pure in its elements, that is to say not a product of the mixture of Whites with Negroes or negroid peoples…These external characters are brown colour of the skin, eyes…hair, beard, and the hair on other parts of the body…the body is well formed and proportioned, of medium stature…the nose is either leptorhine or mesorhine (i.e. more or less narrow), the apertures of the eyes horizontal and rather large, the lips sometimes thin and sometimes a little thick and fleshy…(etc.)
Because most of these features are non-negroid, early race scientists claimed that these brown-skinned peoples that originated in Africa (thus Eurafrican) and included such groups as the Gallas of Ethiopia and Somalis, were actually brown-skinned Caucasians. It has been demonstrated however that these physical traits actually represent an authentic, indigenous African phenotype and has nothing to do with Caucasians or Europeans. As well argued by Wyatt MacGaffey, the continued use of these euphemisms in scholarly literature is ideological rather than scientific.
It is clear that ‘the Brown or Mediterranean race’ is an extremely imprecise concept. Its survival is to be attributed to its ideological usefulness, no small part of which lies in its ambiguity. In a word, it is a myth…the Brown race [concept] is without scientific value, and must be regarded as a myth with specific ideological functions related to the colonial situation. 
Dana Marniche likewise made the point well:
New interpretations of biological evolution along the Nile have helped to dispel the myth of the ancient Mediterranean as a type affiliated with modern Europeans or Caucasoids…the perceived lessening of ‘Negroid’ attributes does not nullify the fact that the ancient type designated ‘proto-Mediterranean,’ or ‘Brown Mediterranean’ since the turn of the century, was in no way allied to, nor descended from the type now designated Europoid or Caucasoid. On the contrary, it is today indisputable that the early Mediterraneans-who appear to have been among the first settled agriculturalists of Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia-were direct genetic and cultural descendents of the Upper Paleolithic hunter of the Nile and North Africa.
The two populations of Sumer and Akkad thus both represent Africoid peoples. The Semitic Akkadians are morphologically related to the Sumerians, and the two groups are likely variations of the same physical type. Contra Diop, there is no evidence that the Semitic Akkadians were half-breeds. While the third ethnic group evidenced in the Kish remains is the ‘Armenoid’ type, i.e. brachycephalic (round-headed) Whites, the morphological measurements give no indication that the Akkadians are a cross between these and the Sumerians. The physical evidence suggests just the opposite. Such a crossbreeding would be evidenced, for example, in the length of the Akkadian head which would have been at least mesocephalic (medium), but the Semitic Akkadians defy this expectation. They are long-headed like the Sumerians. In short, both the Sumerians and the Semitic Akkadians were an Africoid group. Lipiński thus notes:
A worsening of environmental conditions is indicated in North Africa ca. 3500 B.C. with the disappearance of vegetation, a major faunal break, desertification, and desertion. This might have been the period when the speakers of Proto-Semitic (sic) passed through the Nile from the West to the East, and reached Western Asia…from North Africa, wave after wave of Semitic migrations would seem to have set forth. The earliest of these migrants, and those who went farthest to the East, were the Akkadians who, journeying along the Fertile Crescent through Palestine and Syria, and crossing over into Mesopotamia, reached Northern Babylon ca. 3000 B.C. and founded the first Semitic Empire at Kish.
Drusilla Dunjee Houston was thus right on point when she wrote:
The northern Accadians and the southern Sumerians were both Cushites. The finds of recent exploration in the Mesopotamian valley reveal that these ancient inhabitants were black, with the cranial formation of Ethiopians.
There is important iconographic evidence as well affirming the Africanity of the Akkadians and disproving Diop’s “brachycephalic Yellow mulatto” theory. First is the famous Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, grandson of Sargon of Agade and third Akkadian ruler (r. 2254 – 2218 BCE). The stele depicts Naram-Sin’s military victory c. 2200 BCE over his enemies, the Lullubi peoples of the Zargos Mountains plain of Iran. Unlike the hill-peoples of the Zargos mountains such as the Gutians who were a white, the Lullubi were so-called Negritios and no doubt related to the indigenous Africoid peoples of that area, the Elamites. The Negroid features of the defeated Lullubi are clear in the depiction on the stele and is often commented on. Equally notable, however, is the Negroid character of the Akkadian soldiers themselves. As Sir Percy Sykes wrote:
There is the fact that in most ancient bas-reliefs, figures of Negritos appear with frequency. More especially is this the case in the famous stele of Naramsin…where the monarch, who is of Semitic type, is portrayed as leading Negritos to victory.
The soldiers led by Naramsin are Akkadian, and there is no reason for Sykes to ethnically distinguish the king from his troops. This was clearly demonstrated by the reproductions published by Paul Carus. The Akkadian soldiers, like the Lullubi, are both long-headed and round-headed, prognathous and orthognathous, but all unmistakably Kushite or Africoid. Yet the profile of Naram-Sin in no way stands out among this panoply. These Semitic Akkadians are clearly Kushite.
The second and no doubt most important piece of visual proof is the wall paintings from the Palace of Zimri Lim, king of Mari (r. 1775-1761 BCE). Mari is an ancient Sumerian and Semitic city on the west bank of the Euphrates is what is today Tell Hariri, Syria. The palace that attracts our attention was excavated in 1933 and is dated to ca. 1800 BCE. The palace was located in the “almost exclusively Semitic district of Mari”. Mari was indeed a thoroughly Semitic culture at the time: 25, 000 clay tablets were found in the palace, all written in Akkadian cuneiform. While Akkadian was the official language, names and syntax within the documents indicate that the people were actually Northwest Semitic speakers, as a Northwest Semitic dynasty ruled from 1900 – 1759 BCE. The king Zimri Lim was of Northwest Semitic extraction.
The excavated palace featured figural was paintings in five rooms. Of particular importance is the “Investiture Mural” court 106. Commissioned by the king to capture his ascension to the throne, the mural depicts the goddess Ishtar handing the king the royal insignias. Relevant for our purposes is the fact that both the Semitic king and the goddess are depicted as dark reddish-brown complexioned, not unlike the ancient Egyptians self-depictions.
Reconstructed Closeup of king Zimri Lim and goddess Ishtar
Fragmentary images of a priestly sacrificial procession give us an even better view of these Akkadian speaking Semites.
In room 132 there stood a most amazing wall painting depicting the celestial sphere of the Gods. In the top panel an unidentified god – probably An or Utu – receives offering. In the bottom panel Enlil receives the offering of two kings and a goddess who supplicates the god with her two arms up, as was done in Kemet and as is done today in Islam. Conspicuous here is that both the Gods and the humans are of the same dark complexion.
There is simply no evidence of Diop’s Yellow Semitic half-breed Akkadians. The Akkadians were a Semitic-speaking Kushite people, as the Egyptians too were an Afroasiatic-speaking Kushite people. This is the case because Semitism itself, as we have demonstrated, was originally a purely African phenomenon. We have already demonstrated that pure ‘Arabism’ was by definition black, and Arabian half-breeds (hajin, sing.) were not recognized as Arab. There is thus nothing to commend Diop’s theory of the origin of Semitism, unless we restrict our discussion totally to ‘modern Semites’, which in fact seems to be what led Diop astray. But it has been demonstrated that today’s Semites and today’s Arabs – who are indeed half-breeds to a large degree - are absolutely notrepresentative of original and authentic Semitism and/or Arabism. Diop is a phenomenal scholar whose oeuvre remains foundational for all of us who seek to redress the problems created by White Supremacy’s white-washing of history. This correction of a particular conclusion of his does nothing to refute this fact.
 Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization, Myth or Reality , xv.
 I have slightly departed here from the English translation from the original French by Yaa-Lengi Meema Hgemi, who translates: “…the Negro type that inhabited the Arabian Peninsula in Neolithic times. This type, who progressively crossbred with White elements, came from the northeast to give rise finally to the Arabian type.” This translation gives the mistaken impression that it is the Negro type that came to Arabia from the northeast, rather than the Whites. However, Diop’s body of work on this subject of Arabian ethno-history makes it clear that he assumed the Whites (Jectanides, he calls them) to have entered the Peninsula from the North East, not the ‘Negro Type’ which ultimately originated in the south west, i.e. Africa.
 Diop, Civilization or Barbarism, 54 (English translation modified).
 Diop, Civilization or Barbarism, 65.
 Diop, Civilization or Barbarism, 124.
 Diop, African Origin of Civilization, 127.
 Diop, Civilization or Barbarism, 120.
 Diop, Civilization or Barbarism, 57-58, figs. 15, 16.
 Diop, Civilization or Barbarism, 54.
 Cheikh Anta Diop, Black Africa-The Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State (Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill & Company, 1978) x.
 Diop, African Origin, 124.
 Diop, African Origin, 124.
 Christopher Ehret, interview with World History Connected @ http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/2.1/ehret.html. Accessed June 5, 2012.
 Dana Reynolds, “The African Heritage & Ethnohistory of the Moors,” in Ivan van Sertima,Golden Age of the Moor (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1992).105.
 Lipiński, Semitic Languages, 43.
 del Olmo Lete, Questions of Semitic Linguistics, 115.
 Igor Diakonoff, “The Earliest Semitic Society: Linguistic Data,” Journal of Semitic Studies 43 (1998): 209-219.
 See above note XXX
 On the Qafzeh remains see H. P. Schwarcz et al, “ESR dates for the hominid burial site of Qafzeh in Israel,” Journal of Human Evolution 17 (December 1988): 733-737; H. Valladas et al, “Thermoluminescence dating of Mousterian ‘Proto-Cro-Magnon remains from Israel and the origin of modern man,” Nature 311 (February 1988): 614-616.
 C. Loring Brace et al, “The questionable contribution of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age to European craniofacial form,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 103 (2006): 242.
 C. Leonard Woolley, The Sumerians (New York and London: W.W. Norton and Company, 1965) 5.
 George Roux, Ancient Iraq (New York and London: Penguin Books, 1992) 148-151.
 Woolley, Sumerians, 1.
 Roux, Ancient Iraq, 151.
 Sir Arthur Keith, “Report on the Human Remains,” in H.R. Hall et al, Ur Excavations, Volume I: Al-‘Ubaid (Oxford University, 1927) 214-240.
 Keith, “Report,” 214, 221, 240.
 L.H. Dudley and D. Talbot Rice, “Report on the Human Remains Found at Kish,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 61 (1931): 57-119.
 Buxton and Rice, “Report,” 69.
 L.H. Dudley Buxton and D. Talbot Rice, “Report on the Human Remains Found at Kish,”Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 61 (1931): 69, 70-71.
 Runoko Rashidi, “More Light on Sumer, Elam and India,” in Runoko Rashidi and Ivan van Sertima (ed.), African Presence in Early Asia (New Brunswick and London: Transactions Books, 1999) 163.
 Cheikh Anta Diop, “Origin of the Ancient Egyptians,” in UNESCO General History of Africa, II: Ancient Civilizations of Africa, ed. G. Mokhtar (Heinemann, CA.: UNESCO, XXX) 29-30.
 G. Sergie, The Mediterranean Race: A Study of the Origin of European Peoples(London and New York: The Walter Scott Publishing Co. Ltd and Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1909) 250-251.
 Keith, “Report,” 215; Carleton Stevens Coon, The Races of Europe (Westport, Con.: Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1904) 82-86.
 Keith W. Crawford, “The Racial Identity of Ancient Egyptian Populations Based on the Analysis of Physical Remains,” in van Sertima, Egypt, 55-73; S.O.Y. Keita, “Studies in Ancient Crania from Northern Africa,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 83 (1990): 35-48; idem, “Further Studies of Crania from Ancient Northern Africa: An Analysis of Crania From First Dynasty Egyptian Tombs, Using Multiple Discriminant Functions,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology 87 (1992): 245-254; J. Hiernaux, The People of Africa (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975).
 Wyatt MacGaffey, “Concepts of Race in the Historiography of Northeast Africa,” Journal of African History 7 (1966): 4, 16.
 Dana Reynolds-Marniche, “The Myth of the Mediterranean Race,” in Ivan Van Sertima (Ed.),Egypt: Child of Africa (New Brunswick and London: Transaction Books, 1994) 120-121.
 Lipiński, Semitic Languages, 43-4.
 Houston, Wonderful Ethiopians, 162.
 Sir Percy Sykes, A History of Persia (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969) 51.
 Woolley, Sumerians, fig. 16.
 Paul Carus, “Naram-Sin’s Stele,” Open Court (1904): 565-566.
 Roux, Ancient Iraq, 81.
 On which see Marie-Henriette Gates, “The Palace of Zimri-Lim at Mari,” Biblical Archaeologist 47 (1984): 70-87.
 He qualifies, “The Semitic world, as we conceive it today, is too recent to explain Egypt.” Diop,African Origin, 124.