Wednesday, June 3, 2009

They Hail From the South: The Qustul Censer

There has been no tactic more frequently employed by white academia than the "silent treatment". If any information or artifact arises that is not comptabile with the commonly accepted lies that are promulgated as truth, simply disqualify it. Do not refute it, do not examine it, do not engage---simply treat it as if it does not exist.

Case in point---the Qustul censer. Try googling "Qustul censer" and see what results you get. Hardly any? That's because Western anthropology has not been able to devise a convenient enough answer, excuse, or lie to misconstrue the truth behind this ancient, undeniable icon of black culture. The discovery of (and the archeological dating of) the Qustul censer, excavated by archaeologist Keith C. Seele in 1964, heralded a message proclaimed long ago by ancient historians such as Diodoros Sicilus that, "...the Egyptians are colonists sent out by the Ethiopians*". That such an object was unearthed that could incontrovertibly place the origin of the Ancient Egyptians in Africa (and not Asia or elsewhere) was a thought that inspired great trepidation in academia. The Qustul censer weilded such power and potential that could turn Eurocentricism flat on its back.

In 1962 the Aswan High Dam was due to flood the region where Qustal was located in Nubia. Keith C. Seele organized an emergency team of archaeologists to excavate the areas (Qustal was only one among many). Although initially neglected, Seele decided to give Qustal a brief look before time ran out. He did not disappoint himself. In Qustul, thirty-three tombs were found, twelve being large enough to resemble predynastic Egyptian sarcophagi. Jewelry, pottery, flasks, bowls, and large storage jars were located. The presence of the tombs seemed to imply that some sort of a monarchy existed amongst the Nubians---but anthropologists immediately jettisoned this possibility, stating that no such thing was possible. Egypt had the first monarchy and no others preceded it.

Then, in Tomb L-24 at Qustul, the Qustul censer was discovered.

The Qustul censer is an incense burner depicting three ships sailing toward a serekh (royal palace). In the middle boat a Pharaoh is shown (as archaeologist Bruce Williams discerned) wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and is adorned in royal Egyptian regalia. By his crown, a falcon symbol of the god Horus hovers, and in front of the falcon a rosette, an Egyptian royal insignia, is shown. This piece of characteristic Egyptian art was found not in Egypt, but rather 200 miles southward into Nubia. This discovery was mind-boggling. The Qustul censer was dated at 3,300 B.C., long preceding predynastic Egypt.

The evidence was unrefutable. The earliest displays of the Egyptian monarchy and Pharaonic symbols came, not from Egypt, but from the South---Nubia. It should be understood that the censer was no anomaly:

"The Nubian desert, for example, abounded with rock drawings from roughly the same period as the Qustul incense burner, many showing distinctly "Egyptian" themes and symbols. Ivory seals from the A-Group period had been found featuring kingly serekhs. A mud seal impression found at Siali---also dating from the A-Group period---showed a man saluting a serekh surmounted by a falcon.

In the latter inscription, the serekh was actually labeled with a bow---the heiroglyphic emblem for Ta-Seti, Land of the Bow---implying that the man was paying homage to a Nubian state. One bowl from Qustul even showed vultures tearing at a fallen enemy who is labeled with the signs for Ta-Shemau---Upper Egypt---possibly indicating that the Nubians had defeated Upper Egypt in Battle.

Every one of these inscriptions had been found in Nubia. Yet experts had always assumed that they referred to an Egyptian monarchy, rather than a Nubian one. Williams was no longer so sure. The evidence was clear that a powerful dynasty had indeed ruled Ta-Seti in prehistoric times. A count of the royal tombs at Qustul suggested that as many as twelve generations of kings may have been buried there. Why, then, should experts assume that every recognizable symbol of royal authority found in that country would be of foreign origin?"

Western academia, fearing the truth, the black truth, sought to turn a blind eye to the knowledge before them. But after the rebirth of the Qustul spectacle, after the New York Times proclaimed on March 1st, 1979 that, "Evidence of the oldest recognizable expected to stimulate a new appraisal of the origins of civilization in Africa", the Eurocentrics, beat red with anger and humiliation, could restrain themselves no longer.

Heads of the anthropological elite offered naive and feeble rationales and retorts for the Qustul censer. They asserted that the censer was mostly likely an import. The Qustul censer, however, was made of indisputably Nubian stone. That it could be made in Nubia, exported to Egypt, and imported once again back to Nubia was highly improbable. Others exclaimed that Williams was incorrect in his dating of the object, despite the fact that his dating was accurate and conclusive. Yet more, "one scholar actually resorted to the desperate tactic of claiming that the Qustul censer had not really been found in Tomb L-24 [site at Qustul] at all! He claimed that the paper work...had been sloppy." Williams kept detailed and accurate records which were verified (via signature) by other archaeologists accompanying him in his excavations.

And so, today in 2009 little is heard of the Qustul censer. It has been effectively swept under the rug---hidden, forgotten. So much history is vulnerable to being misconstrued in favor of a Eurocentric perspective. But with such a formidable, enduring object as the Qustul censer, there are no lies that can be told. So rather, the "experts" disqualify it by locking it away in a dark, inescapable chamber, thereby imprisoning this relic so that it may never have the opportunity to tell its story.

It sort of makes one ponder why the Arab "Egyptians" were so enthusiastic about flooding this sacred portion of Nubia for their "damn".

Who knows what other sacred black relics lie at the bottom of Lake Nasser.

Recommended Reading: "Black Spark, White Fire" by Allan Poe, book from which excerpts are derived
*The term "Ethiopian" in antiquity largely referred to black Africans from the modern day Sudan area, their capitol being Meroe.


  1. Actually, any reputable university course on Egyptian history offered by a qualified Egyptologist would always include the Qustul censer. And the field of Egyptology in general has acknowledged, published on, and taught about Egypt's sub-Saharan origins for at least the last forty years. There is no "cover up" among Egyptologists about this or any other aspect of Egyptian culture.

    Best regards, J.

    1. The lies ^ you tell and i bet they said we're not sure where this was found. And european egyptologist and other anthropologist always cover up black history saying they couldnt of creared this, this had to be our ancestors, even with the new findings in south africa they made a way to say they started that and it dates before egypt nubia and Mesopotamia

  2. There has been a systematic denial of the black role in Egyptian civlization. When you speak of qualified Egyptologists teaching the truth, why is it that one of the foremost Egyptologists, Zahi Hawass, teaches that ancient Egyptians were never black people and that no pharaohs were black people and that there is absolutely no relation between Egyptian culture and African culture. If you are oblivious to the fact that racism has been used to deny the truth of the blackness of Egypt, you are truly blind.

    1. blackthought, I agree that Eurocentrism and the denial of the black role in Egypt is and continues to be a serious problem, however Anonymous is correct that the problem is not as extensive or pervasive today as it was back then. Racism in general has decreased and much progress is made. Even science, and specifically bio-anthropology has shown that the Egyptians were indigenous i.e. 'black' Africans closely related to Sub-Saharans. Egyptology has already in so many ways shown the cultural connections. Another thing to point out that relates to this topic is also the findings of Nabta Playa of the Nabta Keseiba culture also in Nubia but in the Western Desert. The Nabta Playa area shows the first signs of monumental building in Egypt yet not only is it far west of the Nile Valley but deep in the south as well. There is no getting around it. While racism may still exist it is losing anyway.

    2. Thanks for telling me that im about to read up on that right now :-) i love this kind of stuff. The truth keeps coming out they keep sweeping it under the rug what are they going to do when theres no where to hide it their left with that big pile facts thry cant hide any longer i wonder what they will say then

  3. As a matter of language we read Qus-tul, but this is a corruption of Qus-Uta-Su, where Qus is Kus and Uta is bow, su is like saying the Su-Dan or the Khenti-Amenti-Su. In other words Qus-Uta-Su is the same as Ta-Seti but in two different forms/languages. Kus would be how the Hebrews called the people of Kusah, ie., Kush and I guess Qus is an Arabic dialect of Kus, ultimately though, the generic Kas as in K'Mt is Kas'Ma'At or Kas'Ma'Et, depending on the word following 'At or 'Et, as in Horu-Sa-Aset-Nephru. There is no 'f' in the language so as we read Neferu, the 'f' is replaced with the 'ph' sound and the 'e' of ne-fe-r is removed.

  4. Blackthought - can you cite your sources? I'm really looking to get back into studying ancient history and I'd be very interested to read the source texts. Thanks

  5. Williams' interpretation of the censer - the so-called 'A-Group Monarchy Hypothesis' is extremely dubious for a variety of reasons.

    He mis-identified the censer's material as 'undurated clay' (it is in fact made of limestone, a material that doesn't occur naturally near Qustul), his restoration of the 'pharaoh' and 'DINGIR' figure is extremely subjective (the most crucial scene is nearly totally destroyed), and he mis-dated the materials in L24 on the basis of comparison with parallel finds in Azor and the tomb of Djer. If this material is considered, the censer and L24 can be dated much more securely to the First Dynasty.

    Even if Williams' restoration was shown to be entirely correct, this would not constitute evidence for the existence of a pharaonic monarchy in Nubia. No large, niched buildings of the type shown on the censer have been found relating to the A-group, and the layout of A-group settlements is characteristic of a more egalitarian, tribal chiefdom.

    Williams also wrote his thesis before Dreyer made his crucial discoveries at Abydos, which effectively chart the gradual - independent - development of pharaonic burial practices in Upper Egypt. This isn't to say that Qustul didn't exert some influence in this process. But to say it was the inception point for pharaonic monarchy is a difficult argument to maintain.

    It's also slightly demeaning to the indigenous cultures of Nubia. The A-group created beautiful artefacts and their culture was unique. Their pottery is among the finest to survive from the ancient world. They are fascinating and worth studying in their own right.

    1. To Baron: Actually there is very little of Williams’ finding that is dubious. The Qustul finding rivaled that of Abydos and other predynastic sites in Egypt proper. And all the evidence from predynastic Egypt itself points to a polity called Ta-Seti directly to their south in Lower Nubia. This polity was only overcame once the two lands of Egypt were united and not before.

      Even if the censer is made of limestone imported from Egypt, there is no evidence to suggest that its actual manufacture was in Egypt. You say that the pharaoh is subjective yet the Nile barque upon which the bearded figure sits is clear enough. As for the rosette symbol, you seem to cling to the old school and rather debunked notion that the symbol is the same as the Sumerian dingir. Studies have shown the Egyptian rosette has nothing to do with the Sumerian symbol for divinity but is a native icon for the goddess Sheshat who symbolizes recording and posterity. I note you said nothing about the other symbols such as the palace façade or the barque with the animal totem that is likely a baboon. As for the dating, even if the censer dates to the 1st dynasty, it doesn’t change the fact that there are other tombs that predate the 1st dynasty by several centuries.

      If Williams’ restoration is correct I don’t see how it could NOT constitute evidence for the existence of a pharaonic monarchy in Nubia. Why would a Nubian ruler be buried with an artifact depicting an Egyptian pharaoh instead of himself or his ancestor? As for the typical excuse of lack of evidence, you do realize that A-Group settlements were built closer to the banks of the Nile than Egyptian settlements, especially since the Nile is much thinner and narrower in Nubia. Also, the materials were more perishable such as unbaked mud and wood which would easily be washed away by Nile flooding. Virtually all of the rare evidence we have of A-Group are in cemeteries found miles away from the Nile such as Qustul and Sialah. I don’t see how they were so “egalitarian” since the tombs were as large and as extravagant as predynastic and protodynastic Egyptian elite burials. So why isn’t the Egyptian polity called a “chiefdom”? Why is Ta-Seti not a kingdom, especially since archaeology shows them to have a wide sphere of political influence beyond the Nile Valley into adjacent areas? It seems like a double-standard is being played here.

      What you say about Dreyer’s findings in Abydos is true enough, but we are not talking about burial practices so much as the actual institute of kingship itself, specifically the divine kingship which the Egyptians practiced that is common throughout Africa though whose specific elements are found south in the Nubia-Sudanese region. Qustul exerting “some influence” is an understatement considering that the oldest evidence of regal power in Egypt comes not from Abydos but in Hierakonpolis further south which was a cultural center that had the most Nubian influence outside of the Aswan area. Speaking of which, note that just 4 miles away from the Aswan high dam in the Nag el-Hamdulab area was discovered rock art featuring the oldest depiction of a pharaoh yet known. Coincidence?? I think not. Especially since after the unification of Egypt, its 1st nome in the Aswan area became known as Ta-Seti!!

      I don’t see exactly what is so “demeaning” to the indigenous cultures of Nubia, to suggest that they originated pharaonic kingship. If anything, it is the exact opposite—exalting to the culture. You deny a kingship was present in Lower Nubia, only a simple tribal chiefdom despite all the evidence to the contrary. You doubt that the Qustul censer depicts a pharaoh and if it does, you say it is an Egyptian pharaoh and not of the elite ruler that the censer was found in. Yet you talk about being “demeaning” to Nubian culture when the impression your writing gives is PATRONIZING by saying the only things remarkable about Nubian culture are nice artifacts and fine pottery. YOU, dear sir, are one of the very Eurocentric nay-sayers the author of this article warned against!

  6. Just a few thoughts, why should we ever believe experts who are of the same or similar mind to those who tried to prove that ancient Zimbabwe was not built by black Africans, moreover Zimbabwe is not unique there are other locations such as Loropeni in Burkina Faso.

    Furthermore if Sumerians or a group from the north created the first Pharaonic dynasties, i cannot understand what reason caused them to bypass the lush fertile land of the nile delta and head as far south as Qustal or even Abydos which is much more barren, save the areas near to the Nile itself. Surely the development or growth would have spread from the north southwards?

    I understand that Nubians such as those of group A were amongst the first known people to use incense, so why then would the Egyptians if they came from elsewhere create such an artefact which they had no use for?

    We all know it has taken this long for there to be acceptance of the 24th dynasty as being Nubian. So how long before knowledge of this discovery at Qustal becomes common knowledge. I am sorry but someone has suggested that this discovery is now standard learning for Egyptologists, that is just not true.

    The biggest tragedy is that much of the real evidence and clues now lay at the bottom of a lake because, as i have seen it explained, they say the areas inundated by the waters of lake nasser were the least significant to (eurocentic) archaeology.