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Journal of African Civilizations

The Journal of African Civilizations, founded in 1979, has gained a reputation for excellence and uniqueness among historical and anthropological journals. It is recognized as a valuable information source for both the layman and student. It has created a different historical perspective within which to view the ancestor of the African-American and the achievement and potential of black people the world over.

It is the only historical journal in the English-speaking world which focuses on the heartland rather than on the periphery of African civilizations. It therefore removes the "primitive" from the center stage it has occupied in Eurocentric histories and anthropologies of the African. The Journal of African Civilizations is dedicated to the celebration of black genius, to a revision of the role of the African in the world's great civilizations, the contribution of Africa to the achievement of man in the arts and sciences. It emphasizes what blacks have given to the world, not what they have lost.

St. Claire Drake, in his major two-volume work Black Folk Here and There, speaks of the Journal as "one of the most important events in the development of research and publication from the perspective of Pan-African scholarship." The Journal is now in the forefront of the struggle being waged to alter school curricula and to modify "Western" and "World" civilization courses in the United States.

1. AFRICAN PRESENCE in EARLY AMERICA (Van Sertima's address to the Smithsonian)
Eighteen years have passed since They Came Before Columbus appeared, in which Van Sertima presented most of the facts that were then known about the links between Africa and America before Columbus. But since then many more sculptures have emerged from the earth or from the back rooms of private collections. New stone heads have surfaced in recent excavations while a very old one with a seven-braided Ethiopian hairstyle has come out of a century of obscurity into sudden prominence. Far more sophisticated analyses may now be presented of ancient African astronomy, map-making, scripts, navigation, trade routes, pyramidal structures, linguistic connections, technological and ritual complexes. In this collective work, Ban Sertima is joined by half a dozen other colleagues. The work focuses largely on contact between African and American towards the close of the Bronze Age (circa 948-680 B.C.) and the Mandingo-Songhay trading voyages (from early fourteenth to late fifteenth century).

314 pages Book $15.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00


This volume provides an overview of the black queens, madonnas and goddesses who dominated the history and imagination of ancient times. The authors have concentrated on Ethiopia and Egypt because the documents in the Nile Valley are voluminous compared to the sketchier record in other parts of Africa, but also because the imagination of the world, not just that of Africa, was haunted by these women. They are just as prominent a feature of European mythology as of African reality. The book is divided into three parts: Ethiopian and Egyptian Queens and Goddesses; Black Women in Ancient Art; Conquerors and Courtesans. There are also chapters on the diffusion into Europe of the African goddess, Isis, and on the great scientist Hypatia, whose African ancestry during the Greek-invader period is deduced not only by her lineage but by a comparative study of the rights of African and European women.

239 pages (indexed) Book $15.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00



A celebrated classic, They Came Before Columbus, deals with a number of contacts - both planned and accidental, between Africans and Americans in different historical periods. Evidence for a physical/cultural presence of Africans in Early America is methodically examined.

288 pages (indexed, hardcover) Book $23.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00


This work examines the debt owed by Europe to the Moors for the Renaissance and the significant role played by the African in the Muslim invasions of the Iberian peninsula. While it focuses mainly on Spain and Portugal, it will also examine the races and toots of the original North African before the later ethnic mix of the blackamoors and tawny Moors in the medieval period. The study ranges from the Moors in the literature of Cervantes and Shakespeare to his profound influence upon Europe's university system and the diffusion via this system of the ancient and medieval sciences. The Moors are shown to affect not only European mathematics and map-making, agriculture and architecture, but their markets, their music and their machines. The ethnicity of the Moor is re-examined, as is his unique contribution, both as creator and conduit, to the first seminal phase of the industrial revolution.

474 pages (indexed) Book $20.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00


This book places into perspective the role of the African in world civilization, in particular his little known contributions to the advancement of Europe. A major essay on the evolution of the Caucasoid discusses recent scientific discoveries of the African fatherhood of man and the shift towards albinism (dropping of pigmentation) in Europe. The debt owed to African and Arab Moors for certain inventions usually credited to the Renaissance is discussed, as well as the much earlier Afro-Egyptian influence on Greek science and philosophy. The book is divided into six parts: The First Europeans: African Presence in the Ancient Mediterranean Isles and Mainland Greece; Africans in the European Religious Hierarchy (madonnas, saints and popes); African Presence in Western Europe; African Presence in Northern Europe; African Presence in Easter Europe.

345 pages (indexed) Book $20.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00


6. BLACKS in SCIENCE: Ancient and Modern
This book draws on the latest researches to show that Africa had an impressive scientific tradition in certain centers and historical periods. It highlights steel-smelting machines in Tanzania dating back 1,500 years ago, using semi-conductor technology and achieving temperatures 200 degrees higher than the best in Europe; an observatory in Kenya 300 B.C.; 13th century discoveries by West African astronomers of an invisible star, their accurate plotting of its orbit around its parent star as well as an orbit on its own axis, a fact unknown even to modern science, cultivation of crops and domestication of cattle 6,000-7,000 years before Asia or Europe; African first discoveries of tetracycline, vaccines, aspirin, as well as advances in operations like eye-cataract surgery and cesarean sections; African invention of half a dozen scripts before European colonization. The book also deals with African-American inventions, especially in the fields of telecommunication, space, and nuclear science.

336 pages (indexed) Book $20.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00


This volume, co-edited with Runoko Rashidi, is divided into five sections. The first discusses the peopling of Asia from Africa and identifies African people with Asia's first hominid as well as modern human populations. The second section demonstrates the African elements underlying major early civilizations in Asia, an overview that includes India, Iraq and Iran, Phoenicia, Palestine, the Arabian peninsula, China, Japan and Cambodia. The third section discusses the African origin of the great religions of Asia-Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. The fourth section focuses on the historical and anthropological relationship between African people and Asia's Indo-European, Mongoloid and Semitic populations. The final section deals with African bondage in Asia and provides a fascinating glimpse of the Dalitis, the Black untouchables of India. Who are the Backs of Asia? What have they done? What are they doing now? This volume seeks to answer these questions and to reunite a family too long separated.

400 pages Book $20.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00


This issue seeks to answer two questions: First, whether the ancient Egyptians were predominantly African or Africoid in a physical sense during the major native dynasties before the late invasions of the Persian, Greek, Roman and Arab foreigners. Second, whether their language, writing, vision of god and the universe, their concept of the divine kingship, ritual ceremonies and practices, administrative and architectural symbols and structures and techno-complex, were quintessentially African and not in any major particular, projected from those in Europe or Asia in that or any previous time.

484 pages Book $20.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00


9. GREAT BLACK LEADERS: Ancient and modern
Any selection of leaders, whatever the criteria, is inherently subjective, and this collection does not pretend to be comprehensive. It does establish clear criteria for inclusion, focusing on outstanding individuals from America, Africa, and the Caribbean, who are clearly of global and not solely national significance. Leaders from a number of historical epochs were selected and the editor has also included material on outstanding women leaders (Queens Tiye, Hatshepsut, Nzingha). Leaders who had captured the world's imagination (Shaka) or who had profoundly affected the modern period (Kwame Nkrumah) are also represented. With one exception (Nelson Mandela) the individuals described are no longer living, to ensure that time warrants a consensus about their significance.

435 pages Book $20.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00


This work is divided, with students and teachers in mind, into four sections. In the first section, two distinguished historians (Davidson and Diop) present the evidence which establishes the African claim to a physical and cultural predominance in the classical Egyptian dynasties. The second section is a review of the major Black dynasties (Bruce Williams, Chandler, Rashidi, Brunson, Clegg, Hilliard, Goldman) and includes a working chronology of the dynasties. In the third section, Obenga initiates a rewriting of the beginnings of philosophy, Karenga provides a fresh study of the world's oldest treatises on social order, Finch informs us of startling medical breakthroughs in his commentary on the Edwin Smith papyrus. The book closes with a bibliography of Black Women Scholars in Egyptology (Larry Williams) a guide to readings on Egypt for children (Lumpkin) and a glossary of Egyptian terms (Rashidi & Blackburn).

454 pages (indexed) Book $20.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00


This book reviews the life and thought of an African who has left a major impact upon the world. He was the Senegalese physicist, historian and linguist, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, who was born in Diourbel, Senegal on Dec. 29, 1923, and died in Dakar on Feb. 7, 1986. No figure in the field of African civilization studies has been more highly regarded in the French and English-speaking world than Diop. In 1966 the First World Festival of Arts and Culture attributed jointly to the late W.E.B. Du Bois and Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop its "Award of the Scholar who has exerted the greatest influence on Negro thought in the 20th century." The book has the finest essays by, extended interviews with, and detailed analyses of Diop.

387 pages (indexed) Book $15.00
90 min. audio tape $10.00

Additional audio tapes with the following titles are available as well, all are $10.00 each:

1. African Presence in World Cultures
2. The Black Family - John H. Clarke & Van Sertima
3. The Legacy of Columbus - Jan Carew
4. Van Sertima Before Congress
5. Socialization of the African-American Child - Asa G. Hilliard.

For books, you can write to:

Ivan Van Sertima (Editor)
Journal of African Civilizations
Africana Studies Department
Beck Hall
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903

For audio tapes contact:

Jacqueline L. Patten-Van Sertima
347 Felton Ave.
Highland Park, New Jersey 08904

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Revised: 22 Nov 1997.