Archaeologist Believes All Roots Can Be Traced to Africa





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Archeologist Paris Williams said last night that all of the world's history can be traced to Africa, during a lecture to a small group at the South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library.

"All of us in this room, all of us on this planet can trace our history back to Africa," Williams said.

Her presentation was the first of a three-part lecture series on African American issues in honor of Black History Month.

Williams, who received her master's degree in archaeology from England's University of Reading, admits that she is not an expert. But she emphasizes the importance of her own personal research, saying it will "open up more information about history prior to the last 500 years."

A recent UC Berkeley alumna, Williams presented slides of ancient artifacts and paintings that she said are often ignored because they depict blacks outside the role of the slave.

Though it is often glossed over in history classes, Williams said blacks have played prominent roles in both recent and ancient history.

She showed pictures of artifacts that she says indicate Egyptian pharaohs may have been black.

"After all, Egypt is in Africa, despite (that it is) a Middle Eastern delusion in the modern era," Williams said.

Some artifacts depict the Egyptian kings and queens with dark skin, which she says suggests they were black. As further evidence, she said headpieces worn by the Egyptian pharaohs mirror Central African hairstyles.

Williams said Africans have served as high government officials in other ancient civilizations as well, an interpretation she says historians deny.

She presented an Asian painting of Mongol Emperor of China Kublai Khan and some of his officials, which she says includes two black men riding on horses. After pointing the men out to historians, Williams said she was told they were Tibetan.

"They try to compare it to some other paintings of slaves. They simply could not get to the idea of Africans in the ancient world that weren't slaves or dependents of slaves," Williams said.

Williams also discussed the Greek myth of Jason and Medea, which states that Medea murdered her children and left town, after her husband Jason decided to marry another woman.

The mythical Medea could have been African, Williams said.

"I see in Medea some things analogous to women in slavery. Women murdered their children so they wouldn't be slaves," Williams said, pointing out that had Jason left Medea, her children would have been vagabonds.

Berkeley resident Bruce Williams was among those who attended the event. He said Williams' presentation was a "good, in-depth summary" of history.

"It seems to be that history is told by the present conquering culture," Williams said.

While audience members found the lecture interesting, some were left wondering how much historical evidence went into Williams' theories.

Vista College art history instructor Barbara Rydlander said that while Williams brought new interpretations of history to light, her theories are still open to question.

"I think the speaker displayed some African features (of the artifacts) but (the features in) others were more ambiguous," Rydlander said.

Others said they hope Williams' speech will inspire more education on African history. Oakland resident Aja Faria said she was upset when her 8-year-old son Carlos did not learn about Africans in his history classes until this month.

"It's such a disservice the way (teachers) only teach about (Africans) this month and not the rest of the year," Faria said.

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