A survey of mainstream academic sources
The Nile Valley is dominated by the longest river in the world, and is home to a large variety of peoples and cultures, who vary widely in skin color, facial shape and other indices. Below is a survey of the peopling and origins of various Nile Valley populations, including scholarly anthropological and archaeological views on their origins, similarities, differences, and related movements. A variety of factors are involved in studying the origins of the Nilotic or Nile Valley peoples, including geographic, genetic, and environmental data. Many contemporary mainstream anthropologists now take a more complex view of the Valley, placing Egypt in its African context as opposed to minimizing it, a common approach in past scholarship. A 1999 Physical Anthropology article in 'Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt' for example holds: 
"There is now a sufficient body of evidence from modern studies of skeletal remains to indicate that the ancient Egyptians, especially southern Egyptians, exhibited physical characteristics that are within the range of variation for ancient and modern indigenous peoples of the Sahara and tropical Africa.. In general, the inhabitants of Upper Egypt and Nubia had the greatest biological affinity to people of the Sahara and more southerly areas." (Nancy C. Lovell, " Egyptians, physical anthropology of," in Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, ed. Kathryn A. Bard and Steven Blake Shubert, ( London and New York: Routledge, 1999) pp 328-332)
Much of modern Egyptology also reflects this placement of Egypt in the African context. As one archaeological text suggests, interpretations of the biological affinities and origins of the ancient Nile Valley peoples like the Egyptians:
"must be placed in the context of hypotheses informed by archaeological, linguistic, geographic and other data. In such contexts, the physical anthropological evidence indicates that early Nile Valley populations can be identified as part of an African lineage, but exhibiting local variation. This variation represents the short and long term effects of evolutionary forces, such as gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection, influenced by culture and geography." ("Nancy C. Lovell, " Egyptians, physical anthropology of," in Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, ed. Kathryn A. Bard and Steven Blake Shubert, ( London and New York: Routledge, 1999). pp 328-332)
Methodology is an important issue in the field. A number of research issues are shown below:
Issues in skeletal and cranial research
- Inaccuracy in computer models used in analysis
- Use of stereotypical models in splitting and grouping cranial data
- Ignoring local variability within populations on such indices as nasal measurements
- Skewed cranial databases and statistical sampling bias concentrated on the far north of Egypt, selectively excluding important sites in Southern (Upper) Egypt
Issues in DNA research
An example of skewed methods is pointed out by Egyptologist Barry Kemp. Such methods use the common pattern of taking samples from the far north of Egypt, which has had more foreign admixture from Greeks, Arabs, etc, and using them to "represent" ALL of Egypt, while excluding the south, from which the Dynasties sprung. The CRANID database, which is used by researchers to identify place of origin, uses samples from a single cemetery at Giza, in (northern) Lower Egypt dating around the final dynastic periods of Egypt (Dyn 26-30), to plot dendrograms suggesting that the population of ancient Egypt lies within a "European/Mediterranean bloc." In short the database is front-loaded towards a single cemetery close to the Mediterranean to serve as a "representative" standard in defining the ancient peoples. This skewed loading however, is not representative of the ancients as a whole, and excluded samples from the same time period based on several important cemetery sites at Elephantine, in Upper Egypt, further south. As respected mainstream Egyptologist Barry Kemp points out:
"If, on the other hand, CRANID had used one of the Elephantine populations of the same period, the geographic association would be much more with the African groups to the south. It is dangerous to take one set of skeletons and use them to characterize the population of the whole of Egypt." (Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt Anatomy of a Civilisation, Routledge: 2005, p. 55)
DNA studies by Cavalli-Sforza (2004) and Hammer (1997) follow the same pattern, carefully using far north (Lower) Egyptian samples while excluding the historic south.
Historical approaches to the complexity of the Nile Valley populations
Aryan models and Dynastic Race theoriesMany mainstream references allude to the racial complexity of North Africa and the Nile Valley, going back to pre-dynastic times. These complexities do not yield easily to modern racial controversies or catch-all terminologies like "Mediterranean," or "Middle Eastern." Earlier histories of Egyptian people as recently as the 1970s classified them as Caucasoid or "Hamites" who migrated to the Nile Valley, transmitting light and civilization to slower-witted negro tribes. (Wyatt MacGaffey, 'Concepts of race in the historiography of northeast Africa', Journal of African History). This "Aryan" or "Hamitic" model is captured in scholar C. G. Seligman's influential "Races of Africa":
"Apart from relatively late Semitic influence . . . the civilizations of Africa are the civilizations of the Hamites, its history the record of these peoples and of their interaction with the two other African stocks, the Negro and the Bushman, whether this influence was exerted by highly civilized Egyptians or by such wider pastoralists as are represented at the present day by the Beja and Somali . . . The incoming Hamites were pastoral 'Europeans'--arriving wave after wave--better armed as well as quicker witted than the dark agriculturalConfusion, contradiction and exclusion in the theories of EgyptologistsA great deal of inconsistency and contradiction has also clouded the work of Egyptologists. As noted in one detailed 1967 study by archaeologists Berry and Ucko (Genetical Change in Ancient Egypt):
"This is attested by the tendency in the past (summarised by Chantre 1904) to postulate all sorts of improbable racial amalgams in Egypt: mixtures of peoples representing a singular variety of groups (viz. Libyan, Caucasian, Arab, Pelasgian, Negro, Bushman, Mongol, Hamitic, Hamito-Semitic- even Red Indian and Australian aboriginal) were alleged to have migrated into the Nile Valley." Indeed Keith (1905:92) complained that the literature at that time included hopeless contradictions of three, six, one and two races."Later work was sometimes marked by the same pattern with even Cromagnons being thrown into the mix. Berry and Ucko also note most Egyptologists in earlier years "are at pains to disclaim any Negro element in the Egyptian populations after the predynastic period except for the population of Sudanese Kerma.." while producing shifting definitions of exactly what 'negroid' was.
".. the basic weakness of all claims to distinguish or decry Negro elements on the basis of metrical analyses is the absence of any rigorous population comparisons to isolate particular featurers which can be described as negroid. It is typical of this unsatisfactory situation that F.P [Petrie] 1928:68) although basing himself entirely on the original Stoessiger report, could sumarise the Badarian skull material in terms which denied any serious Negro element."Disclaiming any hint of negroid presence, Petrie held that the ancient Egyptian skulls in question were of Indian origin, some thousands of miles distant, versus the surrounding area, or those further south, which were within a few hundred.
Newer approaches: The Egyptians as simply another Nile Valley populationA number of current mainstream scholars such as Bruce Trigger, and Frank Yurco eschew a racial approach, asserting that the previous archaeological and anthropological approaches were 'marred by a confusion of race, language, and culture and by an accompanying racism'.  As to racial affinities of the people of northeast Africa, Yurco declares that all the peoples of the region are indigenous Africans and that arbitrary divisions into Negroid and Caucasoid stocks is misguided and misleading. To Yurco, the indigenous stocks are part of a continuum of physical variation in the Nile Valley. Just as Europeans are noted to vary between tall blonde Swedes, and shorter, darker Portuguese, or Basques with strikingly different blood types, so the Nile Valley populations are simply allowed similar variation. Other mainstream scholars such as Shomarka Keita applaud Trigger's and Yurco's approach but note the continued use of terms such as "Mediterranean" to incorporate the ancient Egyptians, and the continued use of classification schemes that screen out or deemphasize variability. As one mainstream anthropologist puts it:
"The living peoples of the African continent are diverse in facial characteristics, stature, skin color, hair form, genetics, and other characteristics. No one set of characteristics is more African than another. Variability is also found in "sub-Saharan" Africa, to which the word "Africa" is sometimes erroneously restricted. There is a problem with definitions. Sometimes Africa is defined using cultural factors, like language, that exclude developments that clearly arose in Africa. For example, sometimes even the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea) is excluded because of geography and language and the fact that some of its peoples have narrow noses and faces. However, the Horn is at the same latitude as Nigeria, and its languages are African. The latitude of 15 degree passes through Timbuktu, surely in "sub-Saharan Africa," as well as Khartoum in Sudan; both are north of the Horn. Another false idea is that supra-Saharan and Saharan Africa were peopled after the emergence of "Europeans" or Near Easterners by populations coming from outside Africa. Hence, the ancient Egyptians in some writings have been de-Africanized. These ideas, which limit the definition of Africa and Africans, are rooted in racism and earlier, erroneous "scientific" approaches." (S. Keita, "The Diversity of Indigenous Africans," in Egypt in Africa, Theodore Clenko, Editor (1996), pp. 104-105).Eurocentrism
Another mainstream Egyptologist, Frank Yurco, captures the consensus on African diversity:
"Certainly there was some foreign admixture [in Egypt], but basically a homogeneous African population had lived in the Nile Valley from ancient to modern times... [the] Badarian people, who developed the earliest Predynastic Egyptian culture, already exhibited the mix of North African and Sub-Saharan physical traits that have typified Egyptians ever since (Hassan 1985; Yurco 1989; Trigger 1978; Keita 1990.. et al.,)... The peoples of Egypt, the Sudan, and much of East African Ethiopia and Somalia are now generally regarded as a Nilotic continuity, with widely ranging physical features (complexions light to dark, various hair and craniofacial types) but with powerful common cultural traits, including cattle pastoralist traditions (Trigger 1978; Bard, Snowden, this volume).(F. Yurco "An Egyptological Review," 1996)Several mainstream anthropology studies support the close relationship of the Nile valley peoples, confirming Frank Yurco's statement as to "one Nilotic continuity." A 2005 study by Afrocentric critic C. Loring Brace groups ancient Egyptian populations like the Naqada closer to Nubians and Somalis than European, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern populations. [11a] (Brace, et al. The questionable contribution of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age to European craniofacial form, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 January 3; 103(1): p. 242-247.)
Other craniometric studies confirm this finding. A 2003 study by Hanihara places the ancient Egyptians (Naqada/Gizeh) closer to Nubians (Kerma), and Somalians closer to other East Africans like Kenyans, than to European or Middle Eastern populations. (Hanihara 2003)[11b] (Tsunehiko Hanihara, Am J Phys Anthropol. 2003 Jul ;121 (3): 241-51 "Characterization of biological diversity through analysis of discrete cranial traits." )
Hanihara (1996) also shows that early West Asians (from what would be called today's "Middle East") resembled Africans.(Hanihara T., "Comparison of craniofacial features of major human groups," Am J Phys Anthropol. 1996 Mar;99(3):389-412.)
Such studies are also consistent with metric analyses placing ancient Upper Egyptian populations like the Badari closer to populations in tropical Africa than to Mediterraneans, or Middle Easterners.[11c] Such studies are also consistent with metric analyses placing ancient Upper Egyptian populations like the Badari closer to populations in tropical Africa than to Mediterraneans, or Middle Easterners.. (S.O.Y Keita, "Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa," American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 83:35-48 (1990))As regards comparisons with Middle Eastern populations, data from one 2005 study confirms the work of Brace, Hanihara etc as noted above:
"Overall, when the Egyptian crania are evaluated in a Near Eastern (Lachish) versus African (Kerma, Kebel Moya, Ashanti) context) the affinity is with the Africans. The Sudan and Palestine are the most appropriate comparative regions which would have 'donated' people, along with the Sahara and Maghreb. Archaeology validates looking to these regions for population flow (see Hassan 1988)... Egyptian groups showed less overall affinity to Palestinian and Byzantine remains than to other African series, especially Sudanese." ((S. O. Y. Keita, "Studies and Comments on Ancient Egyptian Biological Relationships," History in Africa 20 (1993) 129-54)
Dental studies note the close relationship between ancient peoples of the Badari and Naqada cultures, and suggest that they continued on into the Dynastic period, with Egyptian samples being more closely related to greater North Africa than to Europe or the Middle East. (Irish, J, 2005)[11d] These data are further confirmed by skeletal limb proportion studies of the ancient populations. One 2003 survey for example showed that Nile Valley populations possessed more tropical body proportions, suggesting that the Egyptian Nile Valley was not primarily settled by cold-adapted peoples, such as Europeans. (Zakrzewski, S.R. (2003). "Variation in ancient Egyptian stature and body proportions". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121 (3): 219-229.)[11e]
DNA research on historical Nile Valley gene flow suggests close relationships and continuity between the Nubian and Egyptian populations, with greater south- north gene flow than north - south gene flow. (Krings 1999).[11f] This south-north movement is consistent with the hegemony of the south and its conquest or absorption of the north, ushering in the period of the Egyptian dynasties. ((Krings M, et al. "mtDNA analysis of Nile River Valley populations: A genetic corridor or a barrier to migration?" Am J Hum Genet. 1999 Apr;64(4):66-76)
Some debates remain however as to the methodology used in classifying these ancient populations. These are addressed below.Some debates remain however as to the methodology and terminology used in classifying these ancient populations। These are addressed in future posts.
1. Nancy C. Lovell, " Egyptians, physical anthropology of," in Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, ed. Kathryn A. Bard and Steven Blake Shubert, ( London and New York: Routledge, 1999) pp 328-332)
2. Nancy C. Lovell, " Egyptians, physical anthropology of," in Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, ed. Kathryn A. Bard and Steven Blake Shubert, ( London and New York: Routledge, 1999). pp 328-332
3. Wyatt MacGaffey, 'Concepts of race in the historiography of northeast Africa', Journal of African History (Vol. VII, no. I, 1966), pp. 1-17.
4. quoted in Edith R. Sanders, 'The Hamitic hypothesis: its origin and functions in time perspective', Journal of African History (Vol. 10, no. 4, 1969), pp. 521-32
5. "Genetical Change in Ancient Egypt," A. Caroline Berry, R. J. Berry, Peter J. Ucko Man, New Series, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Dec., 1967), pp. 551-568
6. Berry and Ucko, op. cit
7. "Genetical Change in Ancient Egypt," A. Caroline Berry, R. J. Berry, Peter J. Ucko Man, New Series, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Dec., 1967), pp. 551-568
8. Berry and Ucko, op. cit
9. 'Nubian, Negro, Black, Nilotic?', in Sylvia Hochfield and Elizabeth Riefstahl (eds), Africa in Antiquity: the arts of Nubia and the Sudan, Vol. 1 (New York, Brooklyn Museum, 1978).
10. S. O. Y. Keita, "The Diversity of Indigenous Africans," in Egypt in Africa, Theodore Clenko, Editor (1996), pp. 104-105. See also (S.O.Y. KEITA, "Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa", AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY 83:35-48 (1990))
11. Frank Yurco, "An Egyptological Review," 1996 -in Mary R. Lefkowitz and Guy MacLean Rogers, Black Athena Revisited, 1996, The University of North Carolina Press, p. 62-100
11a) C. Loring Brace, Noriko Seguchi, Conrad B. Quintyn, Sherry C. Fox, A. Russell Nelson, Sotiris K. Manolis, and Pan Qifeng, "The questionable contribution of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age to European craniofacial form," Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 January 3; 103(1): p. 242-247. (doi: 10.1073/pnas.0509801102);
11b) Tsunehiko Hanihara, Am J Phys Anthropol. 2003 Jul ;121 (3):241-51 "Characterization of biological diversity through analysis of discrete cranial traits." See also: Hanihara T., "Comparison of craniofacial features of major human groups," Am J Phys Anthropol. 1996 Mar;99(3):389-412.)
11c) S.O.Y Keita, "Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa," American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 83:35-48 (1990)
11d) Irish, J.D., "Who were the ancient Egyptians? Dental affinities among Neolithic through postdynastic peoples." American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Volume 129 Issue 4, Pages 529 - 543
11e)Zakrzewski, S.R. (2003). "Variation in ancient Egyptian stature and body proportions". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 121 (3): 219-229.)
11f) Krings M, Salem AE, Bauer K, Geisert H, Malek AK, Chaix L, Simon C, Welsby D, Di Rienzo A, Utermann G, Sajantila A, Pääbo S, Stoneking M., "mtDNA analysis of Nile River Valley populations: A genetic corridor or a barrier to migration?" Am J Hum Genet. 1999 Apr;64(4):1166-76.
See a longer, more detailed review of various issues, footnotes and references at http://www.geocities.com/nilevalleypeoples