The ethnic origins of ancient Egypt and its racial heritage has long been controversial and many ideologically motivated and rejected theories have been put forth over the past 150 years from Flinders Petrie’s claims of a European dynastic race to Diop’s claims of its place as a quintessentially black civilisation. This has worked its way into contemporary internet culture in a variety of ways from the rise of historical blogs and YouTube channels, to offensive memes like the “We Wuz Kangs” copypasta that sparked heated debates about the racial identity of ancient Egyptians and their portrayal in Assassins’ Creed: Origins on social media and video platforms. Controversy over race and identity in gaming is nothing new, but this particular incident has brought to light, and perhaps exacerbated, underlying social and political issues shaping the popular portrayals of ancient Egypt and complicating academic research in the area. I can not hope to fully explore the social and historiographic background of how ancient Egypt has been perceived, culturally and racially, in the West in the short space of an article but I do not intend to. Rather, I am going to attempt to assess the overall accuracy of Ubisoft’s newest Assassins’ Creed title in regards to its portrayal of ancient Egyptian ethnicity.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so before we enter more verbose and theoretically charged grounds, it is worth seeing how Egyptians living in Egypt around a century after Bayek chose to depict themselves in realistic portraiture. Here are some examples of Egyptians depicted in mummy portraits, which were generally encaustic paintings on linen, wood or, more rarely, papyrus that were usually commissioned in life and were placed over the mummy of the deceased. This practice was most popular in the Roman period although there are a few examples that may have been earlier than this.
We can see that some were of darker complexions similar to the darker NPCs ingame. We can also see depictions of people who are quite light skinned, even comparable to Southern Europeans and fall well within the range of Egyptians.
And then there is this Egyptian man from the Roman period who looks similar to the protagonist Bayek in certain videos.
These portraits are all believed to depict native Egyptians but at this time Egypt was also home to Greeks, Syrians, Nubians, Romans, Persians, Arabs, Jews, Indians, Gauls, ad infinitum albeit these minorities would have made up a combined total of less than 10% in all likelihood during the mid 1st Century BCE and they were concentrated around the metropoles and port cities. Most are neither dark nor fair like this young man and this woman .
The figures depicted are not typical for either Central and West African or Northwest European peoples which is hardly surprising but the disproportionate public interest in the appearance of the ancient Egyptians, and the various theories that have emerged to feed this interest, make it necessary to look towards more easily digestible physical evidence before we continue. Having said that, we will also be sure to incorporate other data such as genetic studies, archaeological surveys of remains, living Afro-Semitic population demographics, and anthropological studies in order to factor in as many different perspectives as possible.
But is Assassins’ Creed’s portrayal of Egyptians genuine? Or is Ubisoft’s latest title a work of disingenuous revisionism that panders to calls for diversity in gaming?
In terms of their ethnicity at least, it would seem Ubisoft has done a decent job with bringing the ancient Egyptian people to life. The online outcry over them being portrayed as West African or African American seems strange given that the characters portrayed are clearly not West African in complexion or in features, and characters like the Memphiite priestesses actually do look like Egyptians from the region.
To be honest, a lot of the NPCs would not look out of place in Qalubiya or someplace like that in the Delta.
When comparing a crowd of NPC’s from Ubisoft’s Egypt to a more modern (and considerably more real) crowd in Egypt, little can be said against the developers for their representation of the country.
Now sometimes, the proof is in the pudding and none of these people are lily-white and none of them are remotely Sub-Saharan which is exactly what we would expect from Egypt’s projected population. Ancient Egyptians are generally believed to be most similar to other North and especially North East African populations like modern Libyans instance as opposed to West Asian or East African populations which is a shared trait with modern Egyptians who are probably the most similar population to ancient Egyptians that exists today.
There was a fairly significant amount of ethnic and cultural assimilation from Levantine(Middle Eastern) populations and Nilo-Saharan groups in Egypt’s pre-Dynastic history, as well as continued contact with Levantine and East African civilisations throughout Antiquity which impacted the culture and ethnography of ancient Egypt in its cradle and continued to influence its religion and culture throughout the ancient period. It is also likely that there was some gene flow through island hopping between Southern Europe and North Africa as well as tran-Saharan migration during the Sahara’s wet phases. The population of Northern(Lower) Egypt is the region with the highest concentration of Middle Eastern admixture and individuals from this region have the highest genetic similarities to Levantine and Near Eastern groups. Upper Egypt conversely has the highest percentage of Saharan admixture and individuals from this region show more similarities to people from the Horn of Africa and the Maghreb than those in the northern, more Mediterranean regions do. DNA testing on remains from ancient Egyptian sites has not occurred often and the few instances where it was attempted were highly controversial, such as attempts to analyse Tutankhamun’s mummy for genetic disorders, because of the strong risk of the genetic material being broken down and/or contaminated by archaeologists, tomb robbers and even the analysts.
A recent study of mummies from the pre-Ptolemaic Ptolemaic and Roman period in Abusir El-Meleq near the Faiyuum was able to overcome many of the difficulties of extracting DNA safely to obtain reliable results, and it indicates that the inhabitants of the region were closer to ancient and particularly Neolithic Anatolian groups than their modern counterparts are as well as having about 8% less Sub-Saharan admixture than modern Egyptians which could be a result of the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade or it could reflect possible admixture from Nubian population groups in the past 2000 years. It also suggests that intermarriage and intermingling between Greek and Roman groups with this population was negligible throughout this time period. The only issue here is that we have no way of knowing whether this village is in any way reflective of Egypt’s demographics, but it is certainly an indicator that at least in this region the population was not significantly impacted by Greek or Roman immigration or intermarriage and that they had more genetic overlap with Neolithic Anatolians than Sub-Saharan clades. Of course, because the people who write articles for non-scientific/anthropolgical sites are pretty bad at information retention and comprehension, there were a lot of articles stating that the scientists claimed that ancient Egyptians were actually Turkish which is a like a game of Telephone gone horribly wrong.
An older but less sensationalised study had already suggested that Egypt had a strong connection to the ancient Near East and was (predictably) not closer to Sub-Saharan clades than modern North Africans. It also suggests that this gene flow was not one way but that gene flow went back and forth between the Levant, North East Africa and the Horn of Africa which is supported by the “Back to Africa” hypothesis, wherein population groups that had settled Eurasia returned to East Africa rather than there simply being a one way migration outwards. This also ties in to the evidence that predynastic Egypt experienced migrations from the Levant which influenced ethnic and cultural features of the region that I mentioned above.
Now the problem with similar studies in general that attempt to prove or disprove genetic continuity they do not show where the closest genetic affinities are out of every possible ethnic grouping but what the closest genetic affinities are out of the reference points used.
The biggest problem of all is simply that there has not been any large scale testing of genetic material taken from sites throughout Egypt, let alone studies spanning Egypt’s Dynastic and pre-Dynastic history, but in the future there will hopefully be more breakthroughs as we map Egypt’s genetic history and I personally am optimistic about the breakthroughs thus far.
Modern Egyptians carry genes from Near Eastern groups as well as Afro-Semitic peoples and a small amount of Southern European admixture but are predominantly North East African in origin. Modern North African ethnicities share a common ancestral origin which is evidenced across Egyptian, Libyan, Sudanese, Coptic and Moroccan populations to name a few, and North African and Maghrebi populations are thought to be descended from a population that was distinct from both Sub-Saharan and Eurasian populations although it was frequently impacted by both.
Ancient evidence including Graeco-Roman literary accounts and skeletal remains supports the idea that ancient Egypt’s population had similar clines to modern Egypt, with more southerly populations being closer to Maghrebi and Saharan ethnic groups and more northerly regions being closer to Near Eastern ethnic groups in a kind of gradual scale where Egyptians in the Nile Delta are fairer with more Semitic/Levantine features while Egyptians near the first cataracts are more similar to their Saharan neighbours.
This is where modern scholarship tends to rely on physical anthropology, which to be clear has been problematic in the past due to ideologically motivated cherry-picking of data, the fixation on arbitrary traits and the association of objectively random values to their presence. That said, its methodological tools can still be used to show continuity in populations that have experienced environmental pressures or isolation, only with the cautionary tale of essentialising physical characteristics that has been left behind by previous generations of less rigorous anthropologists and proto-anthropologists.
Technically speaking, North Africans and East Africans are Caucasoid populations, they are not placed in the same racial category as Africans from the Congo region for example but are placed in the category of Middle Easterners. However they would not necessarily be considered “white”, because whiteness can be measured many different ways. It could refer to the skin tone or hair type of an individual but many Caucasians in regions like the Middle East and North Africa are of browner complexion than the average Western/North Western European. It is also sometimes seen as referring exclusively to individuals belonging to the same ethnic group as Western and especially North Western Europeans by white supremacist ideologies. Take the US for example, all North African and Middle Eastern people are considered Caucasian but many individuals might not think of them as being “white”. This is highly relevant to ancient Egypt because people tend to try to conceptualise Egypt in terms of white vs black, but not only are there multiple ethnic groups that are represented, but even in modern times the racial politics surrounding these groups are not straightforward.
The main reason for the backlash is attributable to the difference between “blackness” as a social construct and the ethnic categories that technically fall under the umbrella of “black”. I have no doubt that for the people offended by the appearances of certain NPCs ingame they would consider these people to be black and would treat them the same way as an African-American of Sub-Saharan/West African and Western European descent if judging them solely on appearance as being “dark”, that oh so nebulous category, but from an anthropological perspective this is simply ignorant of the diversity present in Africa which exceeds that of any other continent.
Take Sub Saharan countries in East Africa like Ethiopia and Eritrea for example, their populations consist mainly of Afro-Semitic and Nilo-Saharan population groups (not unlike ancient Nubia and Aksum) and the people are not to be confused with ethnic groups from tropical or Central Africa but not all or even most of them appear North African, many might be automatically categorised as “black” based on their appearance if they were somewhere like the US or UK but others might resemble stereotypical Middle Easterners. Here we can see how the stereotypical vignettes of Sub Saharan Africans versus North Africans begin to break down when assessed more closely. One of the best living examples of the descendants of ancient North Africans are Berbers, an Afro-Semitic population from North-West Africa that is especially well represented in Libyan, Tunisian and Algerian populations, and even they represent a degree of diversity in appearance. Many Berbers even appear European for instance, but ethnically and culturally they are lumped together with other Berbers who may be darker skinned. Other surviving Afro-Semitic peoples are the Amhara people who are thought to be descendants of Semitic peoples that migrated south and intermingled with neighbouring Cushitic people and are currently the dominant cultural and ethnic group in Ethiopia.
Now a degree of gene flow from both Sub-Saharan (Niger-Congo) and Levantine (Arab) population movement is present and to be expected but there is no evidence that the population of North Africa was ever displaced, entirely diluted or exterminated the way that Afrocentrists and white supremacists argue, on the whole even though Egypt has been culturally Arabised to a great extent and there has been an increase in Arab and Sub-Saharan admixture in the past 1500-2000 years, most Egyptians seem to be ethnically Egyptian which is what common sense also dictates given that there is literally zero reason to think that genocide or massive migration ever impacted the Egyptian population as a whole in modern times, let alone enough to substantiate these claims.
Ancient Egypt is non-homogenous, and there are North to South and East to West clines, where there is greater similarity to Near Eastern and European features in skeletal groups from sites in the North and slightly more towards the East, and greater similarity to Saharan and tropical African features to South and slightly more towards the West as a result of population movements along the Nile, and two distinct populations (one Northern and one Southern) have often been suggested to have inhabited ancient Egypt. 1 In fact, the heritage of foreigners in early Egypt goes beyond genetics, there is continuity between prehistoric tool-making, dwellings and modes of subsistence between Upper Egypt and regions like Nubia and Morocco in the Paleolithic, and in the Neolithic Levantine pottery styles and agricultural methods began to influence Lower Egypt before spreading further up the Nile as trade between Lower and Upper Egypt increased before the Dynastic period and unification. Beyond this, many modern Egyptologists hypothesise that the inhabitants of Upper Egypt conquered the northern regions which led to the unification of Egypt and the Dynastic period.2
In the Bronze Age there was extensive trade between the Levant and Egypt, and along with the Hyksos conquest of Lower Egypt and the establishment of the capital of Avaris by them, there was in all likelihood a more gradual immigration of Semitic peoples. Around the same time Nubia siezed portions of Upper Egypt. However the mid regions of Egypt continued to be ruled by the Pharaohs in Thebes who were nevertheless forced to pay tribute to the Hyksos until they defeated them and reconquered the region under Ahmose I who continued the work of his father and brother in campaigning against the Hyksos and Kushites. To quote Kamose, elder brother and predecessor of Ahmose
“What is the point in my own strength? A thief is in the north, another down in Nubia. And here I sit between an Asian and a Nubian. Each man has his slice of Egypt and the land is partitioned. No man can pass through it as far from the South as to the North. No man can be at ease while they are milked by the taxes of the Asiatics. I will grapple with him that I might crush his belly. For my desire is to rescue Egypt that the Asiatics have destroyed.”
Following this was the zenith of ancient Egyptian civilisation as the New Kingdom came to conquer regions stretching from modern Sudan to Turkey in what is often referred to as “the Egyptian Empire”. So between successive wars and migrations there was already significant gene flow between North East Africa and the Near East in Antiquity in addition to the trade network that was essential to Mediterranean civilisation.
Given the geographical difference between Upper, Middle and Lower Egypt the cultural and ethnic makeup of the land was never uniform but is better described as being familiar. This is reflected in modern Egypt where there is actually still some diversity between Egyptians in regions like Alexandria and Egyptians in regions like Qena but again, modern Egyptians share a common ethnic origin despite regional variation.
Thee predominant assumption that this diversity in pigmentation is solely attributable to the mixing of ethnic groups has been challenged in more recent scholarship even as it has enjoyed popularity
“The “Egypt-as-a-zone-of-mixture” hypothesis, however, assumes the prior exis- tence of discrete parent populations of different appearance-in this case, a light- skinned one in the north and a dark-skinned one in the south. Whether that hypothetical southern dark-skinned population is called “Ethiopian”, “nìgre”, “Bantu,” “Black,” “Kaffir,” “Negro,” or whatever, the universal assumption is that the increase in skin pigmentation is accompanied by everted lips, low-bridged noses, projecting jaws and teeth, attenuated lower legs, and a variety of other physical attributes. All recent assessments of ancient Egyptian art invariably focus on the portrayal of this configuration. Whatever name is used, the underlying mind-set is the same, and it is the old-fashioned typological essentialism of the “race” concept. The category in the minds of the users of those various names as the same as the “true Negro” of traditional “racial anthropology”. We do not deny that such a configuration exists and is identifiable, and that people who illustrate it can be found in known areas of sub-Saharan Africa. The problem lies in the assumption that those separate elements are invariably linked together so that the presence of one can inevitably be taken to indicate the presence of the others.”3
Although we can see various traits associated with the two “races” in the remains of ancient populations this is not actually solid evidence of origin. Although Upper Egyptians resemble tropical Africans in their limb ratios this is also found in unrelated South Asian (particularly Indian) populations as well as South American ones that exist under similar conditions of intense heat found near the equator and long limbs are selected for in hot environments. High melanin levels and dark brown skin is similarly explained by environment and populations which are extremely divergent from tropical Africans like Australians, Negritos and even some South Asians. The high bridged nose common to North and East Africa is also associated with European/West Asian peoples but it is also found among Amerind peoples, and this is very likely an evolutionary adaptation to deal with lack of moisture in the air which can be found in cold, northerly climates or in arid ones such as those found around the Sahara. Dental structure is similarly linked to changes in subsistence modes and diet, and looking at differences in size and shape between Egyptian populations does not necessarily reflect population differences, particularly over extended time periods. Lastly, although the genetic study from Al-Meleq indicates a lack of any significant change in the population demographics over time, physical anthropological studies indicate a degree of morphological variance between time periods4 while analyses of dental affinites suggests continuity over time along with affinities to North African groups and dissimilarities to West Asian and European groups.5
Therefore it has been argued that these traits should not be automatically cherry-picked to attempt to define North African and Maghrebi peoples as “Negroid” or “Caucasoid” (which are themselves problematic and unscientific categories) but could well be attributable to independent adaptations to their environment by more modern anthropologists. Claims that traits like Aquiline features and light skin, or long limbs and Sub Saharan features, are always present as a package together are incorrect assumptions based on lazy and outdated racial typology.6, 7 In this way the claims that North and East Africa were home to “mulatto” or mixed populations that was made by 19th and early 20th anthropologists and archaeologists like Flinders Petrie is a lazy assumption that reveals more about contemporary ideologies than findings based on empirical evidence but it does link to more modern ideological debates that seek to make sense of these traits using the same arguments.
Graeco-Roman authors in particular liked to compare Aethiopian, Nubian, Egyptian and Indian populations as they saw them as being representative of the effects that heat and moisture (or lack thereof) can have on the appearance of a people. Since these groups were under varying degrees of heat and dry conditions, and they inhabited regions to the south, they were something of a proto-anthropological litmus test, Aethiops were furthest south and the darkest, Egyptians and Indians were slightly to the north and fairer etc. Hence the numerous references to “Indian” Andromeda or to people from the sub-continent as Ethiopian. The contact with individuals who were exceedingly dark skinned and of more Sub Saharan facial features and the distinction between them and Egyptians by Greek and Roman artists and authors further supports the idea that ancient Egyptians were not “black” in the strictest sense of the word. The 1st Century BCE Roman historian and geographer Strabo describes the distribution of skin tone as he understood it and he describes the Egyptians as fairer than Aethiopians
“As for the people of India, those in the south are like the Aethiopians in color, although they are like the rest in respect to countenance and hair (for on account of the humidity of the air their hair does not curl), whereas those in the north are like the Egyptians.”
And in the 1st Century AD Roman poem Astronomica
“Curly hair about the temples betrays the Syrian. The Ethiopians stain the world and depict a race of men steeped in darkness; less sun-burnt are the natives of India; the land of Egypt, flooded by the Nile, darkens bodies more mildly owing to the inundation of its fields: it is a country nearer to us and its moderate climate imparts a medium tone. The Sun-god dries up with dust the tribes of Africans amid their desert lands; the Moors derive their name from their faces, and their identity is proclaimed by the colour of their skins.”
Nevertheless, a distinction was made between the appearances of North/East Africans and Indians by Greek and Roman authors and this comparison was not a straightforward equivalency. Egyptians in their own art are generally distinct from Nubians, Asians, Libyans and Greeks but they tended to depict individuals and peoples not in a hyper realistic fashion but more as vignettes intended to typify Egypt’s outsiders.
Skin tone was also used in a stylistic fashion, women were often painted gold and men a reddish hure to conform to Egyptian ideals where men were virile and vigorous (symbolised by red) and women spent the majority of their time indoors without being exposed to excessive sunlight which is especially apparent in scenes depicting elite couples.
So taking Egyptian art on face value is dubious at best, 2 dimensionality and smoothed details notwithstanding, because the appearance of its subjects was heavily symbolic and idealised. However we can see that they saw themselves as not conforming to modern standards of whiteness or blackness.
In conclusion, based on what I have seen of the game, the morphology of the Egyptians is fairly accurate, they appear to be a mixture of what was formerly referred to as “Semitic” and “Hamitic” types in the more antiquated and racially charged anthropological categories and by modern anthropological standards they still seem to most strongly bear features common to Middle Eastern, North African and East African populations. In terms of colour, the characters have variation in skin tone ranging from brown to olive/light skin and eye colour ranging from brown/black to hazel. The accusations that they resemble Sub-Saharans and West Africans in particular seems odd given the actual features of the characters which are more stereotypical of North Africans particularly, and out of Sub Saharans they are more likely to be found in East African regions. To support this, compare the character model of Bayek to this Tutsi man and this Lobedu woman, both of whom belong to the Bantu grouping of the Congo region (while Tutsis have a small proportion of East African admixture they are most closely related to other Bantu peoples but this makes them in particular a nice reference point for the controversy surrounding this game).
Bayek has a long and high bridged nose, prominent brow and the planes of his face resemble those typically found in the Middle East. All of these traits are found in West and Central African populations but they are not typical for them, they are most typical of Eurasian or Maghrebi populations. His eyes are hazel/light brown, a trait often found among Europeans, North Africans and Near Easterners but not by Sub-Saharans which further marks his ethnicity. His skin tone is also well within the range of North Africans and Middle Easterners albeit towards the browner end of the spectrum for these groups but since Bayek is a native of Upper Egypt and is supposed to be of mixed Egyptian and East African descent this makes sense and matches the regional demographics. As it is Sub Saharan African peoples do have a great deal of diversity in appearances, from Somalis to Mande people and there are certainly many ethnic groups and individuals whose features fall more into the range of the characters depicted in the game and I do not wish to stereotype all Sub Saharan Africans into one archetypal and racist vignette in the process of taking apart other stereotypical perceptions of Africa and Africans, but it is important to address that the fact that claims of the NPCs and protagonist being made to look and sound deliberately West African are baseless.
Most of these complaints seem to have been born less out of problems with the anthropological background of the game or with Ubisoft’s representation of ancient Egypt, but with contemporary racial politics in the United States and to a lesser extent Western Europe. The fact that the majority of African Americans are of mixed descent, with paternal North Western European descent being common and the average African American being of 20% European descent8 (with some having much less or much more than this) has likely contributed to the association of “blackness” with a wide variety of traits. That is to say, while many African Americans might resemble some of the characters in game, this reflects the presence of a wide variety of ethnic groups of African origin living in America and of the amount of admixture present in these populations. People are never literally black or white yet racist attitudes in the United States are often polarised between two broad groups which are made to appear diametrically opposed and obviously distinct when in fact, human beings are never so easily separated out and essentialised, and making it an issue of binary racial categories we ignore very real diversity that exists among Africans and their descendants in the African diaspora. It is no coincidence that the majority of the backlash accused Ubisoft of pushing an Afrocentric agenda, and that both Afrocentrism and its criticism are most prevalent in the United States, the gaming community has long been an echochamber for American political and social issues and that seems unlikely to change soon. With fresh controversies like the prevalence of black characters in Battlefield 1 it is no surprise that the online gaming community leapt at the opportunity to seek out Ubisoft’s new title as a battleground the debates surrounding the inclusion of diversity in gaming.
What makes this problematic is that Origins is not taking place in a fantasy world or a high tech vision of the near future, it is at its core meant to be a simulation of an actual historic place inhabited by real people and should not be viewed in the same manner as a title like Watch Dogs or The Division. With the ancient Egyptians no catharsis can be reached that would satisfy the demands of proponents for a white or black Egypt. The modern ideas of “blacks”, “whites” or even “Europeans” as distinct and essentially juxtaposed groups did not exist until the past few centuries, nor did the idea that similarities in skin tone or hair/eye colour would be a primary factor in determining cultural values by ancient peoples who used tribal affiliations, language, cultic practices and ethnic categories not based on skin tone to define themselves.9 Although bias and ethnocentric or “proto-racist” sentiments10 existed in the ancient world, it was not between “whites” and “non-whites” or “blacks” and others, but between groups such as Greeks/Persians, Romans/Greeks/Celts, or Romans/Africans 11. To be certain the Egyptians had their own self identity to define themselves in relation to their neighbours but this did not center around their Africanness or Caucasianness, the underlying assumption that they were either fundamentally equal to say, Nubians or Canaanites, would have been rejected as they saw themselves as being a distinct people from both regardless of physical appearance. To use another example, although we might consider both French and Italian people as being “white”, the Roman inhabitants of central Italy did not share the belief that they and the Gauls were of a common stock and heritage or any more similar than Romans and Parthians or Egyptians. Historically, the Egyptians saw themselves as neither black nor white but as Egyptians and if an individual were able to travel back in time to explain this social phenomenon it is doubtful that they would see any value in it so trying to bring contemporary social issues into the past can only damage the value of the game.
What we are left with is people that can be identified as North African, has influenced and been influenced by the Near East to a great extent, and does not conform to the popular or archetypal racial stereotypes and has therefore been contested based on varying metrics of race. Even modern North Africa is perceived differently by different groups, ironically the people that are the closest to ancient Egyptians and are their modern descendants, are viewed with scorn by both Afrocentric and white supremacist schools of thought who construct an identity of inferior invaders for them and reserve the status of one of the world’s oldest civilisations for their racial mirage, be it a European race or a Sub Saharan one.
One thing that must be stressed is that ancient Egypt was an undeniably African civilisation and an integral part of the Near East but by no means black, nor white in the modern sense and the desire to invoke either identity in regards to the ancient Egyptians is always born out of modern racial politics not academic rigour. Egypt has remained Egyptian just as much as we can say that China or Britain, two regions which have been home to various ethnic groups and which also experienced immigration, empire and conquest in historic times, have remained essentially Chinese or British.
That Origins‘ lead developer, Ashraf Ismail, is Egyptian also seems to put a pin in accusations of American bias on the part of the game, or at least leads one to believe that there was a great degree of personal investment in its creation. As it stands, the development team of Assassins’ Creed: Origins clearly did their research and as the game nears launch so should its critics.
1, 2, 4 Population continuity or population change: Formation of the ancient Egyptian state by Sonia R. Zakrzewski
3, 6 Clines and clusters vs “Race”: A test in ancient Egypt and the case of a death on the Nile by C. Loring Brace, David P. Tracer, Lucia Allen Yaroch, John Robb, Kari Brandt, A. Russell Nelson
5 Who Were the Ancient Egyptians? Dental Afﬁnities Among Neolithic Through Postdynastic Peoples by Joel D. Irish
7 The Late Peopling of Africa According to Craniometric Data. A Comparison of Genetic and Linguistic Models by A. Terrazas Mata and C. SerranoSánchez
8 African human diversity, origins and migrations by Floyd A. Reed and Sarah. A. Tishkoff
9 Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience by Frank M. Snowden
10 The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity by Benjamin Isaac
11 Race: Antiquity and its Legacy by Denise Eileen McCoskey
Egypt and the Egyptian by Douglas J. Brewer and Emily Teeter is a great start to Egyptian history in general.
An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt by Kathryn Bard discusses the history, methods and theories behind Egyptian archaeology as well as the difficulties faced by it, which includes those surrounding the construction of ethnicity in ancient Egypt.
This article was written by guest author Arienne King who studies and has written on the topics of ancient Egyptian, Hellenistic, African and Near Eastern history.
In addition to articles and other projects, she actively contributes to /r/AskHistorians, and her user profile which contains bio information can be found here: