Schedule of Topics and Readings

Africa in the Ancient World

CLAS/HIST240 Ancient Societies
Monmouth College, Monmouth, Illinois

Instructor: Thomas J. Sienkewicz (


BIA = Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity

Pharaohs = The World of the Pharaohs

Lefkowitz = Not Out of Africa

Africa in the Ancient World

                                                   Schedule of Topics and Readings


BIA = Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity

Pharaohs = The World of the Pharaohs

Part I:Introduction: Who were the Ancient Africans?

Week I

Sept. 2  Why Africa and Blacks in Antiquity?

Sept. 4  Nomenclature for Africans and Blacks

Read Vergil's Moretum (hand-out)

Week II

Sept. 7  Physical Descriptions of Blacks in Antiquity: Textual Evidence

Read BIA  1-22

Sept. 9  Artistic Image of Blacks in Antiquity

Read BIA  22-29, Xenophanes handout

Sept. 11            Africa and Ethiopians in Greek Mythology

Read BIA  144-155, Ovid and Phoenix hand-outs

Part II: Egypt

Week III

Sept. 14            The Old Kingdom

Read Pharaohs 13-19 and 60-89

Sept. 16            Hieroglyphs

Read handouts on Egyptian inscriptions

Sept. 18            The Middle Kingdom

Read Pharaohs, 90-125, Horace. Odes III.30 (hand-out)

Week IV

Sept. 21            The New Kingdom

Read Pharaohs 126-177, Herodotus II-III.66

Print Resource Report Due.

Sept. 23            The Late Kingdom and the Nubian Pharaohs

Read BIA, 113-115,  2 Chronicles 9:1-12

Sept. 25            Blacks in Egypt

Read BIA 121

Week V

Sept. 28            Greeks and Egyptians: Aeschylus, Suppliants

Part III:“Black” Athena

Sept. 30                        "Black" Athena: African Origins of Greek Civilization?

Read Herodotus, Book I; and review Book II, 49-58; 171; 282; 282; IV, 147; V, 58, introduction to Black Athena I (on reserve); also Sienkewicz review (in Magill’s Literary Annual)

Oct. 2                           The Afrocentric Controversy

Read Lefkowitz, pp. 1-90

Electronic Resource Report Due.

Week VI

Oct. 5                           The Afrocentric Controvery Cont.

Read Lefkowitz, pp/. 91-175

Oct. 7                           “Was Cleopatra Black?”

Read Newsweek Sept. 23, 1991:42-50

Oct. 9                           Ancient Images of Africa and Egypt: Euripides’ Helen

Week VII

Oct. 12 Modern Images of Africa and Egypt: Verdi’s Aida



Back to the Top

Part IV: Greece and Africa

Oct. 16 The Bronze Age and Homer

Read BIA 101-102, 122, Homer, Odyssey 1.22-25 (Eurybates)

Oct. 19 Advising Day. NO CLASS

Oct. 21 Archaic Greece: First Encounters--Cyprus and Naucratis

Read BIA 103-104, 122-123

Oct. 23 No class. Fall Break

Week IX

Oct. 26 No class. Fall Break

Oct. 28 Brainstorming for Individual Project

Oct. 30 Research Day for Individual Project

Week X

Nov. 2 Classical Greece

Read BIA 105-107, 123-125, Herodotus. Books VII-VIII

Nov. 4 Hellenistic Greece: Alexandria and Cyrene

Read BIA 107-109, 126-129, Asclepiades hand-out

Back to the Top

Part V: Rome and Africa

Nov. 6 Introduction: Dido and Aeneas

Read Vergil. Aeneid I.

Week XI

Nov. 9 Carthage and Rome: The Punic Wars

Read BIA 125-126, 130-131; Livy's description of Hannibal in Book XXI

Nov. 11 Slavery in the Ancient World

Read Seneca. Epistle XLVII (hand-out), Aesop hand-outs

Nov. 13 Rome and African Monarchs: Cleopatra, Masinissa and Jugurtha

Read BIA 109-112, 131-136, Horace. Odes. I.37 (hand-out)

Week XII

Nov. 16 Cleopatra

Read Smithsonian Magazine Feb. 1997:57-63; Bevan 344-361

Nov. 18 Rome and Meroe

Read BIA 115-116, Apuleius, books 1-2

Nov. 20 Axum and the Blemmyes

Read BIA, 116-120, 136-141, Apuleius, books 3-4


Nov 23 Roman North Africa

Read BIA 141-143, Apuleius, books 5-6

Nov. 25 Roman North Africa Cont.

Read Apuleius, books 7-8

Nov. 27 No class. Thanksgiving break

Back to the Top

Part VI: Blacks in Antiquity

Week XIV

Nov. 30 Blacks in Daily Life: Entertainers and Athletes

Read BIA 156-168, 182-188, 192-195, Latin Poetry hand-outs

Dec 2 Blacks in Religion: ISIS

Read BIA 189-192, Apuleius, books 9-10

Dec. 4 Blacks in the Old Testament

Read Numbers 12:1-15, Jeremiah 38-39, 1 Kings 10:1-13, Song of Solomon

Week XV

Dec. 7 Christianity and the Ethiopians

Read BIA 196-215, Acts 8:26-40, hand-outs from Church Fathers

Individual Project Due

Dec. 9 Before Color Prejudice

Read BIA 169-182, 216-218



Dec. 17 Oral Reports and Course Evaluation

1 P.M.

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