African Origins of Science & Math [Sadiki]

African Origins of Science & Math [Sadiki]


Last Update: February 1991 dt>Developed by: Kamau Beyete A. Sadiki, Hydropower Engineer, dt>Science & Mathematics Education Consultant dt>Co-Founder, Sirius Study Group, Western Region, ASCAC dt>PO Box 3791, Portland, OR 97208 dt>

This annotated bibliography is a compilation of books, papers and articles that can provide some insight into the accomplishments of early Africans and African-Americans in science and mathematics. It can be utilized for research purposes or just to expand the general reader's consciousness on the subject matter. It is by no means exhaustive or all inclusive. It merely reflects some of the materials that I have utilized in my own research.

1. Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern, ed. by Ivan VanSertima, Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ, 1983

A compilation of very thoroughly researched papers that documents Africa's contributions to astronomy, agriculture, architecture, engineering, aeronautics, mathematics, medicine, metallurgy, physics and writing systems. Also included in this text are articles detailing the African-American's contributions to science and invention. Some of the papers that are worth special mention are John Pappademos' "An Outline of Africa's Role in the History of Physics", Dr. Charles Finch's "The African Background of Medical Science", "Steel Making in Ancient Africa" by Debra Shore, "The Pyramids: Ancient Showcase of African Science and Technology" by Beatrice Lumpkin and John Henrik Clarke's "Lewis Latimer: Bringer of the Light".

2. Africa Counts, Claudia Zaslavsky, Prindle, Weber, and Schmidt, New Your, 1973

This is a pioneering work that is well written and documented. It details the early African mathematical practices found almost throughout Africa. A must reading for those interested in the African origins of mathematics.

3. Stolen Legacy, George G. M. James, Julian Richardson Associates, San Francisco, 1976

In this scholarly book, Professor James declares that Greek philosophy is a misnomer. He thoroughly documents the African origins of Grecian civilization and the study of Greek philosophers and mathematicians in Africa. Dr. James also puts forth an hypothesis based on the ancient Kemetic creation story as a metaphorical scientific explanation for the creation of the universe.

4. Journal of African Civilizations, Vol. 4, No. 1, ed. by Ivan VanSertima, Transaction Books, New Burnswick, NJ, 1982

This special issue of the scholarly journal edited by Dr. VanSertima deals exclusively with the African and African-American contributions to science and invention.

5. The African Origins of Civilization, Cheikh Anta Diop, Lawrence Hill Press, New York, 1974

Here we have the most thorough documentation of the African ethnicity of the ancient people who developed the mathematics and sciences upon which modern civilization is based (Ethiopians, so-called Egyptians, Nubians, Sudanese, Colchis, etc.). Excellent documentation regarding the origins of the scholarship of Greek philosophers, i.e., Herodotus, Diodorus, Plato, Plutarch, et. al.

6. An Introduction to the History of Mathematics, Howard Eves, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 3rd ed., 1969; History of Mathematics, Arthur Gittleman, Charles E. Merrill Press, Columbus, Ohio, 1975.

These two books are primarily devoted to the origin of mathematics in the ancient world, followed by subsequent European developments based upon these model: Kemetic number system, Ahmose (Rhind) Papyri, African surveyors, 3-4-5 triangle, truncated pyramid (seal of the US dollar bill), Kemetic algebra, etc.

7. The Pyramids, Ahmed Fakhry, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 1975

This book not only describes the structure and dimensions of the three best known pyramids at Giza, but furnishes the same information in respect to at least a dozen others, including the Step Pyramid at Saqqara.

8. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, Arnold Chase, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1979

A thorough analysis of one of the ancient mathematical journal left by African mathematicians. Originally known as the Ahmose Mathematician Papyrus (Ahmose being the author), it documents the use of geometry, trigonometry, algebra (aha), arithmetic progression, proportionality, volume and area calculations, etc.

9. Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs, Richard Gillings, Cambridge MIT Press, 1972

Gillings thoroughly documents the extensive mathematical activity of the ancient Kemetic people. His work begins with the four basic arithmetic operations and continues with fractions, algebra, geometric and arithmetic progression, and finding areas and volumes of various geometric shapes.

10. Golden Legacy, Baylor Publishing Co. and Community Enterprise, Inc., Seattle, WA, 1983

Golden Legacy is a series of illustrated Black history magazines written in a "comic book" type format. Short biographical stories are developed around great personalities in Black history. Several volumes deals with scientists and inventors. Excellent for kindergarten and early elementary lesson planning on African-American science and mathematics.

11. A Young Genius in Old Egypt, Beatrice Lumpkin, DuSable Museum Press, Chicago, 1979

This is an excellent primer for early elementary school ages on the origins of mathematics. It tells the story of a young African growing up to become one of ancient Kemet's (Egypt's) greatest mathematicians. It is very well illustrated, also.

12. Seven Black American Scientists and Eight Black American Inventors, Robert Hayden, Addisonian Press, Reading, MA, 1970 & 1972, respectively; Black Inventors of America, McKinley Burt, Jr., National Book Co., Portland, OR, 1969

Excellent biographies on the lives of Black American scientists and inventors are detailed in these works. Each of them can easily be used to develop lessons using the "Great Personality" approach as suggested by Dr. John Henrik Clarke. Professor Burt's book goes a step further and offers a still timely analysis of how some of these Black innovator's invention tremendously affected the American and, in some instances, world industrial complex.

13. The Physicians of Pharaonic Egypt, Paul Ghalioungui, Verlan Phillip Von Zabern, Mainz, West Germany, 1983

In this work Dr. Ghaliougui provides us with a good look into the high level of development that was achieved by ancient African priest- physicians in the medical sciences. There were specialized physicians such as surgeons, veterinarians, therapists, pathologists, physicians of the eyes, stomach and teeth, etc. Dr. Ghaliougui also looks closely at the organization of the ancient medical profession and the personalities of some of the ancient priest-physicians.

14. A History of Science, George Sarton, Vol. 1, Harvard Press, Cambridge, MA, 1952

Although this volume deals with the Hellenistic sciences, it is mentioned here because chapter two is a thoroughly written exposition of the sciences of ancient Kemet. A position is taken by Sarton that the supposedly scientific activity of the ancient Kemetic people was indeed scientific and the priest-scientist of that time laid the foundation for later Greek and Wester science. "They were our first guides and our first teachers (in the sciences)", says Sarton.

15. "African Star Gazers: Why Doesn't Western Science Take Them Seriously?", Hunter H. Adams, III, Paper delivered at the 5th Annual Third World Conference, Chicago, IL, March, 1979

In this paper Mr. Adams clearly articulates the fundamental differences between the development and practice of African science and what later develops as Western science. He utilized the Dogon people West Africa and their astronomical knowledge, particularly their knowledge about the Sirius star system, to exemplify the differences. To understand the differences in the development of scientific knowledge in African and the West, this paper is highly recommended.

16. The Dawn of Astronomy, N. Lockyer, MacMillan and Co., New York, 1894

This is the most authoritative documentation on the advent of astronomy in Africa. Lockyer scholarly documents how the science of astronomy was an integral part of the ancient Kemetic people's lifeways, from religion to architecture.

17. Secrets of the Great Pyramid, Peter Tompkins, Harper & Row, New York, 1971

An intriguing but well documented look at the early scientific and mathematical investigations in the Great Pyramid of Khufu. An excellent and detailed description of the mathematics, astronomy, geodesics, and mensuration techniques developed form the configurations of the Great Pyramid. Tompkins emphatically states that the builders knew the precise circumference of the earth, the mean length of the earth's orbit, the value po pi and phi (know as the Golden Section during the recent "Age of Enlightenment" in Europe), the acceleration of Gravity, the speed of light, trigonometric values, and a host of other mathematical and scientific facts. He also offers evidence that such great Greek mathematicians and philosophers as Plato, Pythagoras, Solon, Thales, Diodorus, Herodotus, and others named Kemet as the birthplace of geometry, and the place in which many Greeks went to study.

18. Mathematics in the Making, Lancelot Hogben, Doubleday & Co., New York, 1960

This is an omnibus volume providing a thorough survey of developments in all areas of mathematics from Dynastic Kemet of the times of Newton and Gauss. Many illustrations and diagrams in color that lends themselves to lesson plans and class projects.

19. Africa: Mother of Western Civilizations, Yosef A. A. ben-Jochannan, Alkebu-lan Books, New York, 1971

20. The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World, Guido Majno, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1975

21. The Edwin Smith Medical Papyrus, James Breasted, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1931

An in-depth analysis of what is probably the most detailed medical book written by ancient Africans. It has an illustration of a cross-section of the head with sections of the brain identified in Mdw Ntr (so-called hieroglyphics).

22. The House of Life (Per Ankh): Magic and Medical Science in Ancient Egypt, Paul Ghalioungui, B. M. Israel Press, Amsterdam, 1973

This text is a well written treatise on the medical profession in ancient Kemet. It documents the ancient African sacerdotal medical activity in such fields as surgery, physiopathology, gynecology, obstetrics pharmacology, ophthalmology, and dentistry. Ghalioungui also deals with the application "magic" in the healing arts of ancient Kemet.

23. The Mechanical Triumph of the Ancient Egyptians, F. Barber, Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd, London, 1900

This is a good early attempt to explain the engineering and mechanical achievements of the ancient Kemetic engineers without the use of some simple machines.

24. Destruction of Black Civilization, Chancellor Williams, Third World Press, Chicago, 1974

Dr. Williams offers the reader an explanation of the often neglected aspect of African history. i.e., how African civilizations were destroyed by hostile forces from Europe and Asia. He goes further and offers a plan on ho to reverse the harmful effects of the destruction of African civilization.

25. The African Presence in Ancient America: They Came Before Columbus, Ivan VanSertima, Random House, New York, 1976

In this book Dr. VanSertima draws upon his mastery of several academic disciplines to demonstrate that African made successful voyages to the American continent before Columbus. He further proves that the earliest civilization in America was influenced by these African visitors perhaps as early as 1000 B.C. (See also Before Columbus by Dr. Samuel D. Marble, A. S. Barnes & Co., New York, 1980; The Black Discovery of America by Michael Bradley, Personal Library Publishers, Toronto, Canada, 1981; and African and the Discovery of America by Leo Wiener, Innes and Sons, Philadelphia, 1920).

26. Scared Science: The King of Pharaonic Theocracy, R. A. Schwaller deLubicz, Inner Traditions International, New York, 1982

27. The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, William I. Thompson, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1981.

28. Black Man of the Nile and His Family, Yosef A. A. ben-Jochannan, Alkebulan Books, New York, 1981

Dr. ben-Jochannan draws upon his varied experiences, talents and academic training to bring the reader a monumental work that shows convincingly that the original Kemetic people (so-called Egyptians) were Black people. He employs a multi-disciplinary approach that can leave no doubt in the mind of honest readers that the Nile Valley is the original home of African civilization.

29. World's Greatest Men of Color, Joel A. Rogers, Vols. I & II, MacMillan Press, New York, 1973

J. A. Rogers brilliantly recounts the individual achievements of African men and women around the world. Each biography is supported by a complete bibliography. This is a rare work that demonstrates that Africans have participated in all of the major cultures of the world.

30. Africa's Gift to America, Joel A. Rogers, Helga M. Rogers (publisher), New York, 1961

This is an easy to read introduction to great African Achievements form the African continent to America. Mr. Rogers offers complete references throughout the book.

31. Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon, Grove Press, New York, 1968

The author, a revolutionary and brilliant psycho-analyst, expertly explores the harmful aspects of colonization from the perspective of the colonized. This work has universal applications for all oppressed people in their struggles against foreign domination.

32. Introduction to African Civilizations, John G. Jackson, University Press, New York, 1970

With painstaking objectivity, and brilliant scholarship, Prof. Jackson obliterates the picture of African being backward and contributing nothing of significance to the evolution of civilization. This work challenges all of the standard approaches to African history and provides new insights into the subject that clearly show the development of civilization in Africa. Mr. Jackson provides the reader with an abundance of documentation and references that corroborates the contention of an African origin of civilization.

33. Early Hydraulic Civilization in Egypt: A Study in Cultural Ecology, Karl Butzer, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1976

Butzer has produced an excellent primer on the early hydraulic culture of Nile Valley civilization. It is revealing in that show some of the sophisticated hydraulic techniques used by ancient Africans in the Nile Valley which propel them into civilized societies.

34. Selections from the Husia: The Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt, Maulana Karenga, Kawaida Publications, Los Angeles, 1984

Dr. Karenga meaningfully selected and beautifully retranslated several books ancient scared literature that clearly illustrates the high moral and ethical lifeways of the ancient Kemetic people. The Husia also provides literary insights into Kemetic pedagogy, religion, philosophy, and human behavior. A must reading for any student who seeks a rich and clear understanding of Kemetic literature and lifeways.

35. The Sirius Mystery, Robert K. G. Temple, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1976

Robert Temple attempts to shed some light on the extraordinary astronomical knowledge of the Dogon people of Mali, West Africa. The binary star system called Sirius A and B is central to the Dogon lifeway. After doing meticulous research on the Sirius question, Temple implies that the Dogon was instructed in their wisdom by extra- terrestrial visitors from outer space.

36. The Pyramids: An Enigma Solved, Joseph Davidovits and Margie Morris, Hippocrene Books, New York, 1988

Davidovits and Morris puts forth yet another theory on the construction of the pyramids. It provides new insights into the question because old data is not rehashed. Their thesis is that the stones used as building material is a cement aggregate that were casted in place and not quarried blocks of limestone as most pyramid construction theorist suggest. The critical piece of data for their thesis is the so-called Famine Stele found on the Shele Island that, according toe Davidovits' translation, has the alchemical process for producing the aggregate.

37. The Legacy of Egypt, S. R. K. Glanville, Oxford University Press, 1942

This is a compilation of several articles that discuss ancient Kemetic contributions from the calendar to modern Islam and Christianity. There are three excellent papers on mechanical and technical processes, materials, science, and medicine. Good primers on ancient Kemetic scientific achievements.

38. Egyptian Sacred Science in Islam, Rafiq Bilal & Thomas Goodwin, Bennu Publishers, San Francisco, 1985

Bilal and Goodwin are two young African-American scholars that are carrying on the tradition of cutting edge research among African scholars concerning ancient Kemet's impact on the major religions of today. This work documents the parallels in Kemetic lifeways and the Islamic religion. They also proposes an interesting hypothesis about the ancient Kemetic symbol for like, the ankh, being a symbol of the phenomena in nature known as the Hydrologic Cycle.

39. "Maat: The African Universe", Jacob Carruthers, Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, San Francisco State University Black Studies Dept. San Francisco, 1982

Maat, in its simplest definition, is defined as truth, justice and righteousness. It was the supreme ethical paradigm which dictated the behavior of ancient Kemetic people and priest-scientist. In this article Dr. Carruthers explains the universality of the concept of Maat and how ethical behavior was a norm in Kemetic society.

40. Egyptian Mysteries: New Light on Ancient Spiritual Knowledge, Lucy Lamy, Crossroads Books, New York, 1981

Lamy studied very closely with the French Egyptologist Schwaller deLubiz at the Temple of Ipet Isut, in present day Luxor. This book provides a good interpretation of the transphysical aspects of the lifeways of ancient Kemetic people. With the exoterica removed, it also reveals a certain degree of scientific thinking that would be other wise obscure. A good reference in understanding the scientific-spiritual relationship in ancient Kemet.

41. Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study, Seyyed H. Nasr, Westerham Press, 1976

42. Le Temple de L'Homme (The Temple in Man), R. A. Schwaller deLubiz, Tome 1, Vol. 1, Apet Du Sud a Lougsor, Caracteres 3, rue Haute Feuille, Paris 6, 1957 ( 1977 condensed translation available from Inner Traditions International, New York)

43. Symbol and the Symbolic: Ancient Egypt Science and the Evolution of Consciousness, R. A. Schwaller deLubicz, Inner Traditions International, New York, 1978 (Condensed translation of original volume published in France in 1949 entitled Symbol et Symbolique).

44. "The Shabaka Text (Memphite Theology)", Chapter VIII in Stolen Legacy by George G. M. James (#3 of bibliography). See Also The Dawn of Conscience, James H Breasted, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1933, pages 29-42; and Ancient Egyptian Literature, Miriam Lichtheim, Vol. 1, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1973, pages 51-57

The Shabaka Text, known in European Egyptological circles as the Memphite Theology, is one of several ancient Kemetic texts that deal with the creation of the universe. George G. M. James contents that it can very well be a scientific thesis that explains the cosmology and physics at the first moment of creation and at incremental times thereafter. In light of insights being revealed by research in quantum mechanics and nonlinear sciences, The Shabaka Text and other ancient Kemetic creation text needs to be given renewed attention for their scientific detail.

45. The Afrocentric Idea, Molefi Kete Asante, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1987

Dr. Asante brilliantly asserts the need for an afrocentric paradigm that accurately articulates the experiences and life-ways of people of African descent. Furthermore, he maintains that this paradigm can only be developed by African scholars. He exposes the inadequacies of logic based Western scientific discoveries in their attempt to understand African cultural data. A must-read for those interested in a more intelligent context in which to understand African cultural dynamics.

46. Toward A Science of Consciousness, Kenneth R Pelletier, Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA, 1985

47. Turbulent Mirror, John Briggs & F. David Peat, Harper & Row, New York, 1989

This text is the best published thus far that uses easily understandable metaphors to explain the "new" science of complexity, chaos and non- linearity. It offers some insights into how ancient African priest- scientist understood the universe as one and all phenomena within it as being inter-related. It also corroborates the ancient understanding that reality is infinite.

48. "African Consciousness and the Liberation Struggle: Implications for the Development and Construction of Scientific Paradigms", Wade Nobles, privately published paper, Oakland, CA, 1978

A very bold and courageous paper that attempts to articulate an African perspective on scientific inquiry. It offers an African-centered definition for science and formulates a scientific paradigm that is founded on the collective African experience.

49. Black Pioneers of Science & Invention, Louis Haber, Harcourts, Brace, & World, Inc., New York, 1970

This is another good publication that documents the creative genius and inventiveness of early African-American scientists and engineers. (See reference #12 for other sources on this subject)

50. "The Scar on the African's Arm", Hippocrates (magazine), March/ April 1989 issue

This article provides insights on the African origins of the immunization process for smallpox. Most western sources wrongly credits a Dr. Mather for the process but an African by the name of Onesimus revealed the secret of the process to him.

51. "From Celestial Flow to Terrestrial Flow: Ancient Hydraulic Developments in the Nile Valley", Kamau Beyete A. Sadiki, paper delivered at the Third Annual Conference of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations, City College of New York, Harlem, NY, March, 1986

This paper details the origin and evolution of hydraulics system in the Nile Valley. It also shows how these hydraulic systems were developed in harmony with the annual inundation of the Nile and how the scientific thinking of ancient African scientists dealt with both physical and transphysical phenomena, synthesizing intuitive and analytical processes, simultaneously.

52. "The Peopling of Ancient Egypt", Chiekh Anta Diop, published paper in The General History of Africa: Ancient Civilizations, Vol. II, edit by K. Moktar, United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris, France, 1976.

This paper by Dr. Chiekh Anta Diop, author of The African Origins of Civilization, was delivered at the Cairo Symposium in Cairo, Egypt in 1974. Dr. Diop provided extensive linguistic, anthropological, and other scientific data that demonstrated the ethnic origins of the so- called ancient Egyptian people was from the south. His research along with that of Dr. Theophile Obenga was so thorough that the other scholars in attendance was not able to provide an adequate response to their thesis. This paper is one of the definitive, if not the most definitive, work on the question of the origins of the so-called ancient Egyptians.

53. The Dreams of Reason: The Computer and the Rise of Complexity, Heinz Pagels, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1988

An excellent layperson's resource on the recent emergence of the science of complexity and chaos. Well written by a respected physicist who uses good prose and metaphor to explain complexity and it's implication on how we view the universe.

54. Black Athena, Martin Bernal, Rutgers University Press, Rutgers, New Jersey, 1988

This text is a very scholarly attempt to continue the in-depth study of the thesis proposed by George G. M. James, Yosef ben-Jochannan and others. Bernal argues for an overthrow of the old historical paradigms he calls the "Ancient Model" and "Aryan Model" and replace them with his "Revised Ancient Model". The Revised Ancient Model discredits the Aryan Model as pure fabrication motivated by racism during the 17th through 19th centuries and proposes a new paradigm for historiography that show the tremendous "afroasiatic" influences on civilization.

55. Fascinating Fibonaccis: Mystery of Magic in Numbers, Trudi H. Garland, Dale Seymour Publications, 1987

This is an excellent reference for a lesson plan on the natural functions of mathematics. It gives a good overview of the so-called Fibonacci numbers. Most importantly, It documents the fact that ancient African mathematicians was cognizant of the transcendental function, know by the Greek letter phi, which equals 1.618.... It was called the golden ratio in Europe during its emergence from the Dark Ages.

56. American Black Scientists and Inventors, ed. by Edward Jenkins, National Science Teachers Association, Washington, D. C., 1975

57. At Last Recognition: A Reference Handbook of Unknown Black Inventors and Their Contributions to America, James C. Wiliiams, B. C. A. Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, 1978

58. Banneker, The Afro-American Astronomer, ed. by Will W. Allen, Books for Libraries, Freeport, NY, 1969

59. Benjamin Banneker: Genius of Early America, Lillie Patterson, Abingdon, Nashville, TN, 1978

60. Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just, Kenneth R. Manning, Oxford Press, New York, 1983

61. Black Giants in Science, Paul J. Driver, VAntage Books, New York, 1973

62. Blacks in Science: Astrophysicist to Zoologist, Hattie Carwell, Exposition Books, Hicksville, NY, 1987

63. Black Mathematicians and Their Work, Virginia Newell, Dorrance and Company, Ardmore, PA, 1980

64. Dr. George Washington Carver, Scientist, Shirley Graham & George D. Lipscomb, WAshington Square Press, New York

65. George Washington Carver: The Story of A Great American, Ann Terry White, E. M. Hale, Eau Claire, WI, 1953

66. Life of Benjamin Banneker, Silvio A. Bendini, Little Brown Books, New York, 1954

67. Many Shades of Black, Stanton L. Wormley, and Lewis H. Fenderson, ed., Morrow Publishing Co., New York, 1969

68. The Negro In Science, Julius Taylor, ed., Morgan College Press, Baltimore, MD, 1955

69. "The Negro Benjamin Banneker, Astronomer and Mathematician, Plea for Universal Peace", by Phillip LePhillips, Records of the Columbian Historical Society, Vol. 20, Columbia, MD, pg 114-120

70. Negros Who Helped Build America, Madeline Stratton, Ginn & Co., Lexington, MA, 1965

71. Pocketful of Goobers: A Story About George Washington Carver, Barbara Mitchell, Carolrhoda Press, Minneapolis, MN, 1968

72. Shortchanged by History: America's Neglected Innovators, by Vernon Pizer, Putnam Books, New York, 1978

73. The Story of George Washington Carver, Arna Sontemps, Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1954

74. They Showed the Way, Charlemae Rollins, Crowell Press, New York, 1964.

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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