by PAUL LAWRENCE GUTHRIE
Excerpts from "MAKING OF THE WHITE MAN" BY Paul Lawrence Guthrie.
This book examines a series of events that took place long ago in and around the region of the Near East. Those events include the disruption of civilization, the sudden arrival of white people in the vicinity of the Caucasus Mountains and what happened 2,000 years later when they unexpectedly came out of the hills and attacked the centers of civilization. By examining these events we will be able to better determine to what extent the facts of history agree with the teachings of Elijah Muhammad.
AN OVERVIEW OF ANCIENT HISTORY
Between six and seven thousand years ago, signs of disruption began to appear throughout the ancient civilization of the Near East. For nearly a thousand years the cultures of that region underwent a change; a period of regression. As chasos and dissatisfaction grew, problems intensified and the ancient societies of the Near East slipped deeper into despair. Then about 6,000 years ago, the inevitable happened--civilization fell apart.
What caused the breakup of civilization six thousand years ago? Some historians had speculated that a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or some similar event took place, but they were unable to find any evidence to support their claims. Besides, all of the clues pointed in the direction of an event quite different from that of an earthquake - a condition that grew over an extended period of time. The picture is on of communities in turmoil, of societies collapsing and falling apart from within; of chaos, dissatisfaction and unrest. The most accurate summation would be to say that the people just began fighting and killing one another - this is the best way to describe what was happening in the Near East 6,000 years ago.
Soon after the unsettling of civilization, another interesting change began to take place. This change occurred in the area of the Caucasus Mountains. There, in West Asia, a previously unknown group of people suddenly appeared as if from out nowhere. Collectively they are known as the Indo-Europeans, Caucasians or white people. The facts show that they first entered the area around 6,000 years ago. 2,000 years later their invasions would bring them into contact with the civilized nations to the south. Because they had no fixed homes and wandered about from place to place, historians usually describe their way of life as ´nomadic´.
Since they were so backward, it is very difficult to use archaeological evidence to help pin down the original home of the Indo-European tongues.
With the arrival of the Caucasians into that cold and sparsely populated area of the world, the few older communities, which earlier had been established there in Europe were either abandoned or destroyed. The evidence clearly suggests that the original inhabitants of those settlements either fled or were killed off by the newly arriving whites. After the whites showed up, drastic changes started to occur in the region north of the Caucasus.
A time period around 3500 B.C. forms a caesura between Old Europe and Indo- European Europe. It is a time when life in the large villages and townships either stops or is markedly changed. The degeneerative changes in the settlements of the Old European Civilization may be assumed to indicate the beginning of the Indo-European presence.
Following the breakup of the ancient societies and the arrival of the whiteman in Europe, the people of the Near East worked to re-establish the level of peace and security they had once known. Slowly, over time, communities were rebuilt, prosperity was restored and signs of new live started to emerge.
In Africa, along the banks of the Nile River, Egypt blossomed into the Pyramid Age. In Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Sumerians too, established a civilization reknown for its high level of culture and refinement. Even as far away as India, along the tributaries of the Indus River, the Dravidians constructed the magnificent twin cities of Mohoenjo-Daro and Harrapa. Rich in arts, sciences and the necessities of life these civilizations laid the foundation for trade and finance, architecture, geometry, mathematics and astronomy, philosophy, law and government, writing and religion.
Throughout the period of reconstruction, not much attention was paid to the nomads of the north; the threat never seemed significant. From time to time, a few nomadic bands would wander down into the center of civilization, but their activities never amounted to more than occasional raids or skirmishes. In the course of time small groups of the whites were abe to establish camps along the hills and deserts outside of Mesopotamia. Although such camps survived mainly by robbing and scavenging, their overall impact upon civilization remained minimal; most of the whites were at that time still beyound range up in the hills.
But the Caucasians of the north were not to remain a distant novelty forever. 2,000 years after their arrival, the nomadic tribes began to move away from what for years had been their home. As they swarmed down, out of the hills, some of them began to travel west, toward the Aegean Sea. At the same time another large group trudged southward, in the direction of the centers of civilization. "for unknown reasons,the group went into a ferment shortly before 2000 B.C. and started spilling out all over europe and western Asia.
As they moved southward, they were joined by smaller groups - members of their own who had earlier taken up positions along the hills and caravan routes ouside of Mesopotamia. As they advanced toward the centers of civilization, they began a series of violent and devastating attacks. One by one the great cities of the ancient world began to topple. So complete was the effect of the onslaught that when it was all over, nothing was left standing.
During a period of about three hundred years, beginning soon after 1700 B.C., the civilized world was overrun by barbarian conquerors. Hill peoples living north and east of Mesopotamia, tribesmen from the desert fringes of Syria, Palestine and northern Arabia, together with wide ranging war bands originating from the northern steppe combined in varying proportions to attack all existing centers of civilized life. The range of these barbarian conquests was never again equaled...At the two extremes of civilized world, in Crete and in India, little but smoking ruins remaind.
So the facts show that after the reconstruction of civilization, the whites came out of the hills and destroyed it all. Every historian agrees that the uprooting of those civilizations were the resul of attacks from white barbarians who came rushing down, out of the hills of West Asia.
In India, Mohonjo-daro was sacked and its people were enslaved or killed. The outcome was the same for those of Mesopotamia and Egypt too.
=================Scientists Find A DNA Change That Accounts For White Skin
By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 16, 2005; A01
Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology´s most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity´s greatest sources of strife.
The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person´s offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world´s races.
Leaders of the study, at Penn State University, warned against interpreting the finding as a discovery of "the race gene." Race is a vaguely defined biological, social and political concept, they noted, and skin color is only part of what race is -- and is not.
In fact, several scientists said, the new work shows just how small a biological difference is reflected by skin color. The newly found mutation involves a change of just one letter of DNA code out of the 3.1 billion letters in the human genome -- the complete instructions for making a human being.
"It´s a major finding in a very sensitive area," said Stephen Oppenheimer, an expert in anthropological genetics at Oxford University, who was not involved in the work. "Almost all the differences used to differentiate populations from around the world really are skin deep."
The work raises a raft of new questions -- not least of which is why white skin caught on so thoroughly in northern climes once it arose. Some scientists suggest that lighter skin offered a strong survival advantage for people who migrated out of Africa by boosting their levels of bone-strengthening vitamin D; others have posited that its novelty and showiness simply made it more attractive to those seeking mates.
The work also reveals for the first time that Asians owe their relatively light skin to different mutations. That means that light skin arose independently at least twice in human evolution, in each case affecting populations with the facial and other traits that today are commonly regarded as the hallmarks of Caucasian and Asian races.
Several sociologists and others said they feared that such revelations might wrongly overshadow the prevailing finding of genetics over the past 10 years: that the number of DNA differences between races is tiny compared with the range of genetic diversity found within any single racial group.
Even study leader Keith Cheng said he was at first uncomfortable talking about the new work, fearing that the finding of such a clear genetic difference between people of African and European ancestries might reawaken discredited assertions of other purported inborn differences between races -- the most long-standing and inflammatory of those being intelligence.
"I think human beings are extremely insecure and look to visual cues of sameness to feel better, and people will do bad things to people who look different," Cheng said.
The discovery, described in today´s issue of the journal Science, was an unexpected outgrowth of studies Cheng and his colleagues were conducting on inch-long zebra fish, which are popular research tools for geneticists and developmental biologists. Having identified a gene that, when mutated, interferes with its ability to make its characteristic black stripes, the team scanned human DNA databases to see if a similar gene resides in people.
To their surprise, they found virtually identical pigment-building genes in humans, chickens, dogs, cows and many others species, an indication of its biological value.
They got a bigger surprise when they looked in a new database comparing the genomes of four of the world´s major racial groups. That showed that whites with northern and western European ancestry have a mutated version of the gene.
Skin color is a reflection of the amount and distribution of the pigment melanin, which in humans protects against damaging ultraviolet rays but in other species is also used for camouflage or other purposes. The mutation that deprives zebra fish of their stripes blocks the creation of a protein whose job is to move charged atoms across cell membranes, an obscure process that is crucial to the accumulation of melanin inside cells.
Humans of European descent, Cheng´s team found, bear a slightly different mutation that hobbles the same protein with similar effect. The defect does not affect melanin deposition in other parts of the body, including the hair and eyes, whose tints are under the control of other genes.
A few genes have previously been associated with human pigment disorders -- most notably those that, when mutated, lead to albinism, an extreme form of pigment loss. But the newly found glitch is the first found to play a role in the formation of "normal" white skin. The Penn State team calculates that the gene, known as slc24a5, is responsible for about one-third of the pigment loss that made black skin white. A few other as-yet-unidentified mutated genes apparently account for the rest.
Although precise dating is impossible, several scientists speculated on the basis of its spread and variation that the mutation arose between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago. That would be consistent with research showing that a wave of ancestral humans migrated northward and eastward out of Africa about 50,000 years ago.
Unlike most mutations, this one quickly overwhelmed its ancestral version, at least in Europe, suggesting it had a real benefit. Many scientists suspect that benefit has to do with vitamin D, made in the body with the help of sunlight and critical to proper bone development.
Sun intensity is great enough in equatorial regions that the vitamin can still be made in dark-skinned people despite the ultraviolet shielding effects of melanin. In the north, where sunlight is less intense and cold weather demands that more clothing be worn, melanin´s ultraviolet shielding became a liability, the thinking goes.
Today that solar requirement is largely irrelevant because many foods are supplemented with vitamin D.
Some scientists said they suspect that white skin´s rapid rise to genetic dominance may also be the product of "sexual selection," a phenomenon of evolutionary biology in which almost any new and showy trait in a healthy individual can become highly prized by those seeking mates, perhaps because it provides evidence of genetic innovativeness.
Cheng and co-worker Victor A. Canfield said their discovery could have practical spinoffs. A gene so crucial to the buildup of melanin in the skin might be a good target for new drugs against melanoma, for example, a cancer of melanin cells in which slc24a5 works overtime.
But they and others agreed that, for better or worse, the finding´s most immediate impact may be an escalating debate about the meaning of race.
Recent revelations that all people are more than 99.9 percent genetically identical has proved that race has almost no biological validity. Yet geneticists´ claims that race is a phony construct have not rung true to many nonscientists -- and understandably so, said Vivian Ota Wang of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda.
"You may tell people that race isn´t real and doesn´t matter, but they can´t catch a cab," Ota Wang said. "So unless we take that into account it makes us sound crazy."
© 2005 The Washington Post Company