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Globular Vase with Cylindrical Neck, Nubian, Meroitic Period, 2nd–3rd century. Clay, slip, 11 5/8 × 10 1/16 in. (29.5 × 25.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum; Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 67.177. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Museum Spotlight: African Ancestors of Egypt and Nubia: From the Green Sahara to the Nile

Opened February 11, 2022

Egyptian Galleries, 3rd Floor

Located in the Museum’s Egyptian galleries, this installation focuses on ancient Egypt and Nubia as African civilizations, challenging racist and colonial assumptions of early Western archaeologists. Examples of pottery and figurines, made more than five thousand years ago, reveal a common origin of the two civilizations on the African continent. Objects such as headrests and sistra further demonstrate close ties between Egypt and other African cultures. The display also highlights the important contributions of W. E. B. Du Bois, William Leo Hansberry, and Pauline Hopkins, three of the many African American scholars who recognized and published on Egypt and Nubia as African civilizations during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period when the field of “mainstream” Egyptology rejected this notion.

Museum Spotlights are intimate installations of noteworthy collection works, recent acquisitions, and loans, presented to encourage deeper conversations about art, history, and justice.

African Ancestors of Egypt and Nubia: From the Green Sahara to the Nile is organized by Yekaterina Barbash, Curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Near Eastern Art, and Kathy Zurek-Doule, Curatorial Associate, Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Near Eastern Art.

We are grateful for the consultations and generous assistance of

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
Dr. Eurie Dahn and Dr. Brian Sweeney
Digital Colored American Magazine
Dr. Salima Ikram
Gail A. Hansberry
Harvard University Archives
Chester Higgins
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University
Nile Valley Collective
Oladunni Oladipo
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
UMass Amherst Libraries
Jason Warwin