Ethiopian History

A German Historian thus sums up all that is known of Ethiopian history - that is, of the part which the great Negro race, inhabiting all Africa with the exception of the north-eastern coasts, performed in the general affairs of mankind in the early ages of the world: - ‘ On the history of this division of the species two remarks may be made: the one, that a now entirely extinct knowledge of the extension and power of this branch of the human family must have been forced upon even the Greeks by their early poets and historians; the other, that the Ethiopian history is interwoven throughout with that of Egypt. As regards the first remark, it is clear that in the earliest ages this branch of the race must have played an important part, since Meroe (in the present Nubia) is mentioned both by Herodotus (B.C. 408) and Strabo (A. D. 20); by the one as a still-existing, by the other as a formerly-existing seat of royalty, and centre of the Ethiopian religion and civilization.' To this Strabo adds, that the race spread from the boundaries of Egypt over the mountains of Atlas, as far as the Gaditanian Straits. Ephorus, too (B.C. 405), seems to have had a very great impression of the Ethiopians, since he names in the east the Indians, in the south the Ethiopians, in the west the Celts, in the north the Seythians, as the most mighty and numerous peoples of the known earth. Already in Strabo's time, however, their ancient power had been gone for an indefinite period, and the Negro states found themselves, after Meroe had ceased to be a religious capital, almost in the same situation as that in which they still continue. The second remark on the Negro branch of the human race and its history, can only be fully elucidated when the interpretation of the inscriptions on Egyptian monuments shall have been farther advanced. The latest travels into Abyssinia show this much - that at one time the Egyptian religion and civilization extended over the principal seat of the northern Negroes. Single mummies and monumental figures corroborate what Herodotus expressly says, that a great portion of the Egyptians of his time had black skins and woolly hair; hence we infer that the Negro race had combined itself intimately with the Caucasian part of the population. Not these notices only, but the express testimonies also of the Hebrew annals, show Egypt to have contained an abundance of Negroes, and mention a conquering king invading it at the head of a Negro host, and governing it for a considerable time. The nature of the accounts on which we must found does not permit us to give an accurate statement; we remark, however, that the Indians, the Egyptians, and the Babylonians, are not the only peoples which aimed at becoming world conquerors before the historic age, but that also to the Ethiopian stock warlike kings were not wanting in the early times. The Mongols alone seem to have enjoyed a happy repose within their own seats in the primitive historic times, and those antecedent to them they appear first very late as conquerors and destroyers in the history of the west. If, indeed, the hero-king of the Ethiopians, Tearcho, were one and the same with the Tirhakah of the book of Kings (2 Kings, xix. 9), then the wonder of those stories would disappear which were handed down by tradition to the Greeks; but even Bochart has combatted this belief, and we cannot reconcile it with the circumstances which are related of both. It remains for us only to observe, by way of summary, that in an age antecedent to the historic, the Ethiopian peoples may have been associated together in a more regular manner than in our own or Grecian and Roman times; and that their distant expeditions may have been so formidable, both to the Europeans as far as the Aegean Sea in the east, and to the dwellers on the Gaditanian Straits (Gibraltar) on the west, that the dim knowledge of the fact was not lost even in late times. In more recent ages we observe here and there an Ethiopian influence, and especially in the Egyptian history; but as concerns the general progress of the human species, the Negro race never acquired any vital importance.