Nordic Egypt

In 1902, E. A. Wallis Budge, the renowned Egyptologist, described the pre-dynastic Egyptians thus:

"The predynastic Egyptians, that is to say, that stratum of them which was indigenous to North Africa, belonged to a white or light-skinned race with fair hair, who in many particulars resembled the Libyans, who in later historical times lived very near the western bank of the Nile." [E. A. W. Budge, Egypt in the Neolithic and Archaic Periods (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Trübner, 1902), p. 49.]

Later, in the same book, Budge referred to a pre-dynastic statuette that: "has eyes inlaid with lapis-lazuli, by which we are probably intended to understand that the woman here represented had blue eyes." [Ibid., p. 51.]

In 1925, the Oxford don L. H. Dudley Buxton, wrote the following concerning ancient Egyptian crania:

"Among the ancient crania from the Thebaid in the collection in the Department of Human Anatomy in Oxford, there are specimens which must unhesitatingly be considered to be those of Nordic type. If this is so, it would seem that they probably entered Egypt with the other alien elements which began to filter in from Asia in early dynastic times. How far the Nordics ever formed any appreciable element in the population is doubtful, but these specimens prove their existence." [L. H. D. Buxton, The Peoples of Asia (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Trübner, 1925), p. 50.]

Harry R. Hall, the Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum in the 1920s, had this to say about the invaders who formed the early dynastic Egyptian type:

"The oldest representations of ruling Egyptians, who may be presumed to belong to this race, shew remarkably a definitely central or even north European type, and it is very probable that this invading people belonged to an early folk-wandering from the 'Nordic' regions that made its way south through Syria, after possibly a period of settlement there." [H. R. Hall, A General Introductory Guide to the Egyptian Collections in the British Museum (London: Harrison & Sons, 1930), p. 24.]

Later in the same work, he refers to the "northern invaders," who formed an "aristocracy of northern (and possibly Nordic) origin," over the native Egyptians. [Ibid., p. 25.]

The American physical anthropologist J. Lawrence Angel, studied a series of Egyptian crania dating from the predynastic period, down to the time of the Ptolemies. He concluded that during the invasion of Egypt by the Hyksos (15th Dynasty), Lower Egypt was settled by large numbers of individuals who were "Nordic-Iranian" in type. [J. L. Angel, "Biological Relations of Egyptian and Eastern Mediterranean Populations during Pre-dynastic and Dynastic Times." Journal of Human Evolution I (1972) pp. 307-313.]

The Scottish physical anthropologist Robert Gayre has written, that in his considered opinion:

"Ancient Egypt, for instance, was essentially a penetration of Caucasoid racial elements into Africa . . . This civilisation grew out of the settlement of Mediterraneans, Armenoids, even Nordics, and Atlantics in North Africa . . ." [R. Gayre of Gayre, Miscellaneous Racial Studies, 1943-1972 (Edinburgh: Armorial, 1972), p. 85.]

When English archaeologist Howard Carter excavated the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922, he discovered in the Treasury a small wooden sarcophagus. Within it lay a memento of Tutankhamen's beloved grandmother, Queen Tiye: "a curl of her auburn hair." [C. Desroches-Noblecourt, Tutankhamen: Life and Death of a Pharaoh (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972), p. 65.]

Queen Tiye (18th Dynasty), was the daughter of Thuya, a Priestess of the God Amun. Thuya's mummy, which was found in 1905, has long, red-blonde hair. Examinations of Tiye's mummy proved that she bore a striking resemblance to her mother. [B. Adams, Egyptian Mummies (Aylesbury: Shire Publications, 1988), p. 39.]

The French Egyptologist Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, has this to say about the famous Egyptian beauty, Queen Nefertiti: ". . . her beauty was of the noble Theban type seen in the necropolis paintings . . ." She goes on to state that ". . . the coloured bust now in Berlin shows the rosy tint of her complexion, which suggests that she was careful to avoid sunlight or, alternatively, that she was of northern stock." [Desroches-Noblecourt, op. cit., p. 90.]

A painting of the mother of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (18th Dynasty), reveals that she had blonde hair, blue eyes and a rosy complexion. [W. Sieglin, Die blonden Haare der indogermanischen Völker des Altertums (Munich: J. F. Lehmanns Verlag, 1935), p. 132.]

Princess Ranofri, a daughter of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (18th Dynasty), is depicted as a blonde in a wall painting that was recorded in the 19th century, by the Italian Egyptologist Ippolito Rosellini. [Ibid., p. 132.]

In 1929 archaeologists discovered the mummy of fifty year-old Queen Meryet-Amun (another daughter of Tuthmosis III); the mummy has wavy, light-brown hair. [R. B. Partridge, Faces of Pharaohs (London: Rubicon Press, 1994), p. 91.]

American Egyptologist Donald P. Ryan excavated tomb KV 60, in the Valley of the Kings, during the course of 1989. Inside, he found the mummy of a royal female, which he believes to be the long-lost remains of the great Queen Hatshepsut (18th Dynasty). Ryan describes the mummy as follows:

"The mummy was mostly unwrapped and on its back. Strands of reddish-blond hair lay on the floor beneath the bald head." [Ibid., p. 87.]

Manetho, a Graeco-Egyptian priest who flourished in the 3rd century BC, wrote in his Egyptian History, that the last ruler of the 6th Dynasty was a woman by the name of Queen Nitocris. He has this to say about her:

"There was a queen Nitocris, braver than all the men of her time, the most beautiful of all the women, blonde-haired with rosy cheeks. By her, it is said, the third pyramid was reared, with the aspect of a mountain." [W. G. Waddell, Manetho (London: William Heinemann, 1980), p. 57.]

According to the Graeco-Roman authors Pliny the Elder, Strabo and Diodorus Siculus, the Third Pyramid was built by a woman named Rhodopis. When translated from the original Greek, her name means "rosy-cheeked". [G. A. Wainwright, The Sky-Religion in Egypt (Cambridge: University Press, 1938), p. 42.]

We may also note that a tomb painting recorded by the German Egyptologist C. R. Lepsius in the 1840s, depicts a blonde woman by the name of Hetepheres (circa 5th Dynasty). The German scholar Alexander Scharff, observed that she was described as being a Priestess of the Goddess Neith, a deity who was sacred to the blond-haired Libyans of the Delta region. He goes on to state that her name is precisely the same as that of Queen Hetepheres II, who is also shown as fair-haired, in a painting on the wall of Queen Meresankh III's tomb. He deduced from all of this, that the two women may well have been related, and he suggested that Egypt during the Age of the Pyramids, was dominated by an elite of blonde women. [A. Scharff, "Ein Beitrag zur Chronologie der 4. ägyptischen Dynastie." Orientalistische Literaturzeitung XXXI (1928) pp. 73-81.]

The twentieth prayer of the 141st chapter of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, is dedicated "to the Goddess greatly beloved, with red hair." [E. A. W. Budge, The Book of the Dead (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Trübner, 1901), p. 430.] In the tomb of Pharaoh Merenptah (19th Dynasty), there are depictions of red-haired goddesses. [N. Reeves & R. H. Wilkinson, The Complete Valley of the Kings (London: Thames & Hudson, 1997), p. 149.]

In the Book of the Dead, the eyes of the god Horus are described as "shining," or "brilliant," whilst another passage refers more explicitly to "Horus of the blue eyes". [Budge, op. cit., pp. 421 & 602.] The rubric to the 140th chapter of said book, states that the amulet known as the "Eye of Horus," (used to ward-off the "Evil Eye"), must always be made from lapis-lazuli, a mineral which is blue in colour. [Ibid., p. 427.] It should be noted that the Goddess Wadjet, who symbolised the Divine Eye of Horus, was represented by a snake (a hooded cobra to be precise), and her name, when translated from the original Egyptian, means "blue-green". [A. F. Alford, The Phoenix Solution (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1998), pp. 266-268.] Interestingly, the ancient Scandanavians claimed that anyone who was blue-eyed (and therefore possessed the power of the Evil Eye), had "a snake in the eye," and blue eyes were frequently compared to the eyes of a serpent. [F. B. Gummere, Germanic Origins (London: David Nutt, 1892), pp. 58, 62.]

In the ancient Pyramid Texts, the Gods are said to have blue and green eyes. [Alford, op. cit., p. 232.] The Graeco-Roman author Diodorus Siculus (I, 12), says that the Egyptians thought the goddess Neith had blue eyes. [C. H. Oldfather, Diodorus of Sicily (London: William Heinemann, 1968), p. 45.]

A text from the mammisi of Isis at Denderah, declares that the goddess was given birth to in the form of a "ruddy woman". [J. G. Griffiths, De Iside et Osiride (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1970), p. 451.] Finally, the Greek author Plutarch, in the 22nd chapter of his De Iside et Osiride, states that the Egyptians thought Horus to be fair-skinned, and the god Seth to be of a ruddy complexion. [Ibid., p. 151.]

 Filed under: Countries / Civilizations, Egypt


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