Happy St. George’s Day!

StGeorge_Meme

April 23rd is St. George’s Day, so I wanted to celebrate by assembling this scene in the Age of Empires II: HD map editor. It is a little-known fact that, in the original mythology, St. George was a Roman soldier from the province of Cappadocia in what is now Turkey. His adventure with the dragon and the princess would have taken place somewhere in Africa, which in classical antiquity was known as “Libya” (referring to the entire continent rather than just the country we call Libya today). Not quite the medieval English portrayal we’re all used to, right?

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Pharaoh Hatshepsut Portrait

Hatshepsut_Portrait_Pencils

After doing so many paleo-themed pictures lately, I wanted to return to ancient Egypt for a bit by doodling this portrait of the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut. I used to draw this woman all the time, but it feels like it’s been a while since I last did so. However, I think this is the first time I did a drawing of Hatshepsut with her the false beard of her office attached.

The First Farmer

The First Farmer

10,000 years ago on the plains of what will eventually become the Sahara Desert, a young farmer girl has filled her basket with cereal grains she has collected from the day’s harvest. The wooden instrument under her belt is a primitive sickle studded with stone bladelets to help her gather the grains.

Recent archaeological excavations in southwestern Libya have shown that African people were extensively harvesting and perhaps even cultivating “wild” cereals in the region 10,000 years before present, roughly contemporary with similar experiments in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. Not only have over 200,000 specimens of grain been recovered at the dig in question, but so have pieces of woven baskets that would have been used to carry the grains, as well as pieces of pottery with cereal soup residue still on them. Perhaps future discoveries will show that Africa was among the earliest, if not the earliest, cradles of agriculture in human history.

UPDATE 3/22/18:

The First Farmer

The Priestess of Tanit and the Sheep

The Priestess of Tanit and the Sheep

A priestess of Tanit, from the Carthaginian Empire that straddled northwestern Africa and the western Mediterranean basin, cradles a young Barbary sheep in her arms. The Barbary sheep, characterized by the long hair streaming from its neck and forelegs, is a species of wild sheep native to the mountainous desert regions of northern Africa.

Although this is part of my “African Queens with Animals” art series, the woman here wouldn’t be a queen since Carthage had an oligarchic government rather than a traditional monarchy. She’s also a bit lighter-skinned than the other women in the series since she would be mixed with Phoenician (Carthage started out as a trading colony on the Tunisian coast by Phoenicians from the area of modern Lebanon).

The Mambokadzi and the Kudu

The Mambokadzi and the Kudu

The woman here would be a Mambokadzi, or Queen, of the Great Zimbabwe civilization which spread over much of southeastern Africa, including not only the modern nation of Zimbabwe but also areas of Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia. They would have most probably spoken the Shona language, from which I got the term “Mambokadzi” (with the help of an online translator, I must admit). As for the antelope she’s riding, it would be a greater kudu which is also endemic to the southern African region.

The Pharaoh and the Oryx

The Pharaoh and the Oryx

This Egyptian Pharaoh is resting beside her pet scimitar-horned oryx. The scimitar oryx is an antelope of the oryx genus that is considered extinct in the wild today, but used to roam the deserts of northern Africa and was known to the ancient Egyptians. Its markings appear browner and less contrasting than the other oryx species, such as the Arabian, East African, and southern gemsbok ones.

A few weeks ago, my therapist suggested that I draw more “safari animals” to go with all the African characters I draw. I think he has a good point. I particularly fancy the idea of drawing African wildlife alongside Egyptians since Egypt being a civilization native to the continent of Africa is a big theme of my work (in case you haven’t noticed already).

Nefertari Admires Her Capital

Nefertari Admires Her Capital

Nefertari, the Egyptian Queen who was the primary wife of Pharaoh Ramses II, admires the view of her kingdom’s royal capital from a high veranda. During the reign of her husband, Egypt’s capital would have been located in the city of Per-Ramesu (or Pi-Ramesses), near the modern city of Qantir in northeastern Egypt. In earlier dynasties, the Egyptian capital would have been located further up the Nile in places like Men-Nefer/Memphis (near Cairo) and Waset/Thebes (modern Luxor). It tended to shift location over the country’s long history (the same was also true of Egypt’s southern rival Kush).

Queen Nefertari might be hard to recognize from this angle without her distinctive vulture crown on, but surely both the Pharaohs and their consorts must have taken their headdresses off when outside the public view. I’ve never been a monarch myself, but I bet crowns are never comfortable to wear.

Building the Great Pyramid

Building the Great Pyramid

With Black History Month now upon us, I figured I’d celebrate by coloring an older drawing of mine which depicts the Egyptians building one of their famous pyramids at Giza. While the Pharaoh calls the shots and his workers hull the stones up the rubble ramps, a royal musician cheers everyone up with his drumming and singing. I like to imagine the Egyptians sang or chanted to one another while doing all their heavy labor.

Why Europeans are Almost 1/3 African

This is an article I’ve posted on Medium.com about the little known, yet substantial, recent African ancestry that all people of European descent have inherited.

Why Europeans are Almost 1/3 African

It should be common knowledge by now that human beings in their modern form, Homo sapiens, first evolved in Africa. Exactly when we emerged on the scene remains uncertain (recent fossil discoveries suggest it may have happened over 300,000 years ago, a hundred millennia earlier than we originally thought), but whenever it was, most of our species’s history of existence would have played out on the so-called “Dark Continent”. It would have been no earlier than 70,000 years ago — and possibly as soon as 55,000 years ago — when the ancestors of all people outside of Africa would wander out of the continent and colonize the rest of the habitable world.

This would not have been the first dispersal of hominin apes out of Africa, mind you. Much in the press has been made of the fact that between 1–7% of modern human ancestry outside our ancestral continent comes from the descendants of earlier emigrants such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans. What may not be so widely publicized, however, is that the famous “Out of Africa” migration between 70–55,000 years ago would not have been the last movement of Homo sapiens from Africa into Eurasia and beyond, either. There is in fact a plethora of compelling evidence that humans from Africa continued to venture out and leave a permanent genetic mark on the ancestry of their Eurasian kin— even the “white” peoples of Europe.

I don’t mean a light dash, either. Almost one third of European ancestry descends from African admixture within the last 55,000 years.