Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Tehenu and Tamahu

The original inhabitants of the Sahara where the Kemetic civilization originated were Blacks not Berbers or Indo-European speakers Winters,1994). These Blacks formerly lived in the highland regions of the Fezzan and Hoggar until after 4000 BC. This ancient homeland of the Dravidians, Egyptians, Sumerians, Niger-Kordofanian-Mande and Elamite speakers is called the Fertile African Crescent. ( Anselin, 1989, p.16; Winters, 1983,1985,1991). 

We call these people the Proto-Saharans (Winters 1985,1991). The generic term for this group is Kushite. This explains the analogy between the Bafsudraalam languages outlined briefly above (Winters, 1994). These Proto-Saharans were called Ta-Seti and Tehenu by the Egyptians. Farid (1985,p.82) noted that "We can notice that the beginning of the Neolithic stage in Egypt on the edge of the Western Desert corresponds with the expansion of the Saharan Neolithic culture and the growth of its population".

The inhabitants of the Fezzan were round headed Africans. (Jelinek, 1985,p.273) The cultural characteristics of the Fezzanese were analogous to C-Group culture items and the people of Ta-Seti . The C-Group people occupied the Sudan and Fezzan regions between 3700-1300 BC (Jelinek 1985).

The inhabitants of Libya were called Tmhw (Temehus). The Temehus were organized into two groups the Thnw (Tehenu) in the North and the Nhsj (Nehesy) in the South. (Diop 1986). The Nehesy represented as the singular Kushite or African type. As a result, in most translations of Egyptian text by Egyptologists Nehesy, was translated as Negro. They did this to imply that the Egyptians were non-Black, and only the Nehesy were Blacks in the Nile Valley.

A Tehenu personage is depicted on Amratian period pottery (Farid 1985 ,p. 84). The Tehenu wore pointed beard, phallic sheath and feathers on their head.

The Temehus are called the C-Group people by archaeologists (Jelinek, 1985; Quellec, 1985). The central Fezzan was a center of C-Group settlement. Quellec (1985, p.373) discussed in detail the presence of C-Group culture traits in the Central Fezzan along with their cattle during the middle of the Third millennium BC. The Tehenu and Tamehus are depicted on Rameses III Table of Nations.
The Temehus or C-Group people began to settle Kush around 2200 BC. The kings of Kush had their capital at Kerma, in Dongola and a sedentary center on Sai Island. The majority of the Tamehu did not migrate into Kerma, they remained in the Fezzan and other parts of Libya. The same pottery found at Kerma is also present in Libya especially the Fezzan.

The Temehus/ Tehenu were agro-pastoral population that lived both in villages and dmi'w 'towns'. The Tehenu lived in the Delta between the Temehu and the Egyptians. The Egyptians referred to all of the people in this area most often by the generic tern "Tehenu”.
Oric Bates, in the The Eastern Libyans (1914), wrote the following

As you can see from the quote from Bates the Temehu were recognized as an African population.

The Tjemhu/Temehu which included the controled an area from Cyrenaica to Syria. As a result, in textual material from the reign of Ramses II, there is mention of Temehu towns in Syria. David O'Connor makes it clear that Ramses III referred to these Temehu by the term Tehenu/ Tjehnyu (p.64).

The use of different names to describe the Tehenu and Asian in the Ramses III Table of Nations is understood in relation to the political and ethnic conditions in Egypt and Western Asia during this period. The research appears to indicate that the physiognomy of the Libyans had changed by this time. This resulted , for the most part from the invasion of Egypt by Sea Peoples in association with the Libu (Libyans).

The members of the coalition that attacked Egypt were led by Meshesher the wr 'ruler' of the coalition. Each group was led by a "great one" or a magnate. The Meshwesh were semi-nomads that lived both in villages and dmi'w 'towns'. The Tehenu lived in the Delta between the Temehu and the Egyptians. The Egyptians referred to all of the people in this area most often by the generic tern "Tehenu".

The Meshwesh were very hostile to the Tehenu/Tjehnya. In fact, the first mention of the Meshwesh in Ramses III inscriptions relating to 1188, was the attack on the Tehenu, by the Meshwqesh, Soped and Sea People .

David O'Connor makes it clear that the the records of Ramses III make it clear that the Meshweshy "savagely" attacked the Tehenu and looted their cities during their advance to Egypt (p.35 & 105).

The coalition of the Meshweshy had each unit of the army organized into "family or tribal ' units under the leadership of a "great one". As result to understand why the Asian and Tehenu figures on the Table of Nations are identified differently you have use both the pictorical and textual material from the reign of Ramses III to understand the representations.

As a result, Palestianian -Syrian personage or figure D, is labled Tehenu because he was probably a member of one the Meshwesh units that fought the Egyptians, thus he was labled Tehenu ( David O'Connor (1990).

The Meshwesh are different from the Tehenu and the original Tamehu recorded by the Egyptians prior to the New Kingdom. Below we see the traditional depiction of a Tamehu, the sidelock, shoulder cape and clean face note absence of feathers in the hair.

The Meshwesh wore Tehenu traditional costumes but they are not believed to be real Tehenu. The Tehenu and the Temehu usually wore different costumes. In the New Kingdom depictions of the Temehu, the Meshwesh have "long chin beards", like the Syrian-Palestinians and Peoples of the Sea. They wear kilts, sheaths and capes open at the front tied at one shoulder. Like the earlierTehenu they wore feathers as a sign of High Status.

David O'Connor makes it clear that there was "marked hetergeneity of the Tjemhu" (p.41). The first attack by Libyans on Egypt were led by the Libu during the 5th year of Ramses III's reign. Diop has provided convincing evidence that the Libu, later migrated into Senegal, where they presently live near Cape Verde.

The difference in dress among the Meshwesh and Tehenu, and their hostility toward the Tehenu, have led many researchers to see the Temehu of the New Kingdom as a different group from the original Temehu of Egyptian traditions. O'Connor (p.74) in the work cited above makes it clear that the Temehu in Ramses III day--"[have] hairstyles, dress and apparently ethnic type [that] are markedly different from the Tjehnyu/tjemhu of the Old Kingdom (Osing, 1980,1018-19).

Various explanations have been offered: Wainwright, for example, concluded that 'Meshwesh was a mixed tribe of Libu like tribesmen with their native chiefs who become subject to a family of Tjehnu origin'(1962,p.92), while Osing suggested that the New Kingdowm Tjemhu had displaced or absorbed the earlier Tjehnyu but had selectively taken over or retained some Tjehnyu traits, in the case of the rulers for Meshwesh (1980,1019-1020). Dr. O'Connor is of the opinion "that some rulers of the later New Kingdom Tjemhu deliberately adopted traits they discovered from the Egyptians to be characteristic of ancient Tjehnyu/ Tjemhu, so as to increase there prestige, or in some way had these rtraits imposed upon them by the Egyptians" (p.74).

It is my opinion that given the organiztion of the Libyans into mhwt "family or tribal groups', sometime prior to 1230 BC over an extended period of time Indo-European speaking people later to be known as Peoples of the Sea entered Western Asia and Libya and were adopted by Tehenu families. This adoption of the new immigrants by Tehenu/Tamehu probably led to the Meshwesh and Soped adopting Tehenu customs but maintaining their traditional beards,. The original Temehu, like the Libu probably saw the integration of Sea Peoples into Temehu society as a way to increase their number and possibily conquer Egypt.

The C-Group or Temehus also founded the Kerma dynasty of Kush. Diop (1986, p.72) noted that the "earliest substratum of the Libyan population was a black population from the south Sahara". Kerma was first inhabited in the 4th millennium BC (Bonnet 1986). By the 2nd millennium BC Kushites at Kerma were already worshippers of Amon/Amun and they used a distinctive black-and-red ware (Bonnet 1986; Winters 1985b,1991). Amon, later became a major god of the Egyptians during the 18th Dynasty.

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Bonnet,C. (1986). Kerma: Territoire et Metropole. Cairo: Instut Francais D'Archeologie Orientale du Caire
Diop, A.(1987). Precolonial Black Africa. (trans. ) by Harold Salemson, Westport: Lawrence Hill & Company
Jelinek,J. (1985). "Tillizahren,the Key Site of the Fezzanese Rock Art". Anthropologie (Brno),23(3):223-275.
O'Connor,D. (1990) "The nature of Tjemhu (Libyan) society in later New Kingdom; in Libya and Egypt c1300-750 BC”. (Ed.) by Athony Leahy (pp.29-113), SOAS Centre of Near and Middle Eastern Studies and the Society for Libyan Studies, 1990.
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Winters, C.A. (1983). "The Ancient Manding Script". In Blacks in Science:Ancient and Modern. (ed.) by Ivan van Sertima, (New Brunswick: Transaction Books) pp.208-215.
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