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What does Kemet mean?


People in Egypt today call their country by the Arabic name of ‘Misr’. The word ‘Egypt’ is the name that the Ancient Greeks gave to the country and is still used in Europe today. Prior to Europe’s involvement with Egypt, the people of Ancient Egypt had many names for their country such as ‘Ta Mery’ (the beloved land), ‘Ta Sety’ (the land of the bow) which was used for the southern most regions of the country and Nubia .

Another name was 'Kemet', which means ‘the black land’. All of these names were originally spelt without vowels, so for example Kmt.

Kemetic Meaning
Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning



Kemetic Meaning

Kemetic Meaning



The meaning of Kemet has been much debated. The word was spelt with four hieroglyphs: a piece of crocodile skin with spines making the sound K; an owl making the sound M and a half loaf of bread making the sound T. The round symbol represents a crossroads and shows the reader that in this context this is a place name. There are parallels – Sudan for example comes from the Arabic Bilad-al-sudan meaning country of the blacks and Ethiopia derives from the Greek meaning ‘burnt-face’ in reference to the people and their black skin. The word kem means ‘black’. However, people have interpreted the reference to the colour black this in two different ways:

In reference to the colour of the silt of the Nile and so the fertile soil of Egypt
In reference to the colour of the people


What does Kemet mean?


Today, for obvious reasons, the name Kemet is associated with a more African-centred approach to looking at ‘Egypt’. For this reason the gallery that you are currently viewing is called Virtual Kemet. In adopting this name we hope to remind people that the ‘Ancient Egypt’ is an African civilization and that whilst the culture had contact with people from other civilizations, it was essentially African in its culture and well as its geographical placement.

There are many links between ancient Egyptian and modern African culture, ranging from objects such as headrests to hairstyles such as the side lock, and this and other evidence support the idea that it was an African culture in addition to being geographically in Africa. For these reasons Egypt is seen by people of African descent as part of their cultural heritage and history. The concept of Egypt as part of Africa is not a new one.

Some of the earliest travellers to Egypt came from the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, including Greek philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, writers and poets who came to learn from the priests. To the Greeks and Romans, Egypt was an African country, and their artists depicted the Egyptians as Africans, with black skin and tightly curled hair, described by the Greek historian Herodotos in the fifth century BC as 'woolly'.

Were the people in Ancient Kemet the same groups of people who live Egypt today?

No. Throughout Egypt’s history it had traded and fought with people from other countries. From around 750 BC the Nubian rulers, often called ‘The Kushites’ controlled Kemet and became its Twenty-fifth Dynasty. During this time Kemet enjoyed a renaissance, or return to earlier culture, as indicated by the promotion of the cult of the god Amun and also copies of earlier statues that were made by officials and the rulers.

Later, the population was affected by the immigration of soldiers, traders and settlers from outside cultures, which included two Persian invasions in 525 BC and 343 BC; Macedonian Greeks who ruled Kemet from 332-30 BC; Romans, who took control of Kemet in 30 BC; and the Islamic settlement in AD 642.

 The Persians ruled Kemet from their own country. The Greek rulers, in contrast, lived in Kemet and adopted Egyptian culture and traditions; however, the language for administration was changed to Greek.

The Romans, although absent rulers, had large numbers of their army in Kemet and were keen to promote Egyptian culture, albeit their own version of it. The last hieroglyphic inscription dates to AD 394, after this time Christianity, which had been present in Egypt from the first century AD, gradually became the dominant religion.

Early Islamic rulers maintained cultural links with earlier Egypt, as seen by the minaret at the Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo, which is in the form of the famous lighthouse of Alexandria and which dated to the third century BC. The language was changed to Arabic at this time and the religion to Islam.

Were the people in Ancient Kemet the same groups of people who live Egypt today?

Today, many people forget that Egypt is part of the continent of Africa and only think of the modern state of Egypt, which has closer ties to the Islamic world and is often seen by people to be part of the ‘Middle East’. The ‘Middle East’ includes countries such as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and the Arabian Peninsula.




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