COLOR CODED HISTORY
Color was certainly one of the identifiers used by the ancient world; hence the words Ethiopia and “Aithiops.” This word is of Greek origin and translates as “burnt face.”
Ancient European writers regularly used the term ‘Ethiopians’ to describe very dark skinned populations they met. It was also linked to a specific geographical area. For many centuries, the region south of Egypt extending from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean was called ‘Ethiopia’, although the entire continent was generally known as Libya.
It should be noted that in ancient eras, apparently people were identified primarily by their nationality, and not necessarily by their skin color.
This means that when one encounters reports of ancient events, one should not automatically assume that the people in the story or legend are NOT black skinned and/or woolly haired, just because they are being referred to by their nationality and not specifically by hair texture or skin pigmentation.
One prime example involves the ancient Egyptians. They are noted for having developed –what is arguably– the most monumental and influential civilization of the ancient world. For over four thousand years, there was no major nation of the period that did not interact in some manner with the Egyptians. This includes people like the Greeks and Trojans.
But history is all about change. The population mix of present-day Mexico City, South Africa or Costa Rica is not the same as it was a mere 400 years ago. No sensible person will deny this. Yet, many still find it hard to believe that over a much longer 2500 year period, the ethnic mix of Tunisia or Egypt or Palestine might have changed even more drastically than some of those other places.
Tyre (Tyrus/Tsurya/Surya/Zaaru/Sur) was the largest, the most southern and most important of the Phoenician (Ethiop) Canaanite commercial cities. Of all the Phoenician port cities it seems to have had the closest ongoing relationship with Egypt. It was the very center of the dye trade and its origins go back to before 3000 B.C.E.
The city of Tyre/Sur was known to the Greeks as ‘Tsyrus’ or ‘Tsurya.’ The Romans called it Tyrus hence Tyre.
As a result of the regional importance and influence of Tyre/Sur/Tsurya, the Greeks began using the word ‘Tsurya’ or ‘Suriyya’ as a designation for the entire Eastern Mediterranean Coast. This was the area that extended from above the Phoenician Canaanite cities in the north down past Gaza to the frontier of ancient Egypt in the south.
It was the Greek use of ‘Suriyya’ that eventually gave rise to the word “Syria”. This led to the practice of referring to all the people who lived along that Eastern Mediterranean seacoast as ‘Syrians’.
Whether or not the Phoenician Kena’ani were a unique and distinct group of ‘ethiopic’ migrants to the ‘Syrian’ Coast, there appear to have been other very ancient ‘ethiopic’ people who also lived in the Land of the Kena’ani. Furthermore according to ancient traditions these Ethiopians seem to have constituted a very key original element of the so-called ‘Syrian’ population of the Palestinian coast from the very earliest of times.
This is heavily hinted at in the legend of ‘Perseus and Andromeda.’ That heroic Greek myth prominently features characters who are clearly identified as Ethiopian and the story is set very squarely on the Syria-Palestine coast to the south of Tyre.
According to the legend, on his way home from Libya, the hero Perseus stopped in Joppa, the kingdom of the Ethiopian King Cepheus and his Ethiopian queen Cassiopeia. There he rescued their daughter the beautiful princess Andromeda.
Andromeda was chained to the rocks, and was about to be sacrificed to a sea monster that had been ravaging the coast of the kingdom.
Perseus killed the monster, and despite opposition from Andromeda’s royal parents, he married the Ethiopian princess and left for home with her.
In the story, Perseus dispatches the sea monster of Joppa by using a Gorgon’s head to turn it into stone.
As it happens the site of the ancient mythical Ethiopian Kingdom of Joppa can easily be located. Joppa is now called Jaffa or Yafo and is the twin-district of the city of Tel Aviv in the modern day state of Israel.
Furthermore visitors to Jaffa today are still show the supposed ‘remains’ of the sea monster. This takes the form of a large rock standing at the entrance of the natural harbor of Jaffa.
BLACK AFRICANS OF ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN