Zidane rode for Hannibal

Well, this is really cool. I learned something that has long puzzled me, and I did it through blogging.

You recall that I recommended a blog post by Mathilda, in which she explains the ethnic categories of “Africans” in antiquity. (In a nutshell: “Libyan” = white; “Ethiopian” = black). All of which fascinates me because I want to form the most accurate picture possible of what Hannibal, a Carthaginian, and his Numidian and Iberian allies may have looked like.

And now somebody named Ureus left this comment (thank you, Ureus!) in which he/she explains that:

I am also a descendant of the Numidians, but nowadays we are called Kabyle Berbers.
Contrary to the Afrocentrist view; we are a white Mediterranean race. For the Afro-centrists out there: even the word Africa is of Berber origin; it comes from the word Ifriqiya, which designated the tribal territory of the Berber tribes of Northern Tunisia.

Fine, so how should we picture these Numidians, who were the fiercest horsemen of antiquity (they rode without stirrups or saddles and wrought havoc on the Romans in Hannibal’s battles)? Well, here is one Kabyle Berber you may have seen before:

Zidane, a Kabyle Berber

Zidane, a Kabyle Berber

The Beeb (BBC, for the Americans) has a Q&A on Berbers here.

Now, if somebody could please help me with the “Iberians”, please?
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14 thoughts on “Zidane rode for Hannibal

  1. I really hope you look critically at the statements made here. While it is true that people of North Africa are very diverse in appearance, it is really simplistic to sum up Berbers as “white”, which is a contested term in any case.

  2. Absolutely, Zari! “White” is a slippery terms that means almost nothing today, and certainly meant nothing to the people around the Mediterranean then, as I suggested here. Thanks for the excellent point.

  3. About Iberians,there are a small cluster(Pasiegos) in Cantabria, north spain I am from there and found that I have E1b1b1b2 M 81. so I tried to find out how this happened.
    Apparently was during Islamic period in Iberia when berbers revolt against arabs and where deported to the north,somehow they manage to survive pretty isulated until now in a few valleys as Pas and Soba. Some went in the 19 century to America so you will find ” berbers” in Mexico, for example.

    • Thank you, Luis. This is fascinating.

      I was actually talking about “Iberians” in the sense of the pre-“Spanish”, pre-Roman period that the characters in my book would would have encountered.

      The tribes that the Carthaginians and then the Romans conquered were called Iberians or Celtiberians. They seem to have been a mixture of Celtic (Gallic) peoples and others.
      There are lots of Roman and Greek descriptions of Celts/Gauls–usually desribed as fairer, often with reddish hair, taller, fighting naked with long slashing swords, etc.
      But I have found no descriptions of the Iberians, except that they fought in “white tunics with purple borders” and with short stabbing swords.

      Modern Spaniards/Portuguese, of course, would be a mixture of Iberian, Celtic, Berber, Arab, Roman, Vandal, Visigoth, Basque, Jewish, and a lot else.

    • I looked through several history book and found in one of tha best historic works about Spain by Balleseros 1943 the following:

      …iberians and berbers had similar weapons and clothing…
      …Lybian and iberians were dolicocephalus,slim,had thick lower lip,thick eyebrows,curly hair…..

      Note: probably this is based more in archeological findings rather than documents

      Also: ..there are similarities in iberian and Lybian toponimics…
      and …was a second wawe of people from Africa tha displaced the Ligures also N.africans

  4. Hello all

    Well, as I already mentioned on the Mathilda’s blog I’m not sure that the E1b1b1b2 presence in north Iberia has to be systematically associated with the Muslim conquest of the peninsula.
    Human migrations through the Strait of Gibraltar or sea people coming from the south-eastern shores of the mediterranean sea took place well before 711 AC!
    I’m E1b1b1b2 and southern Galician on both sides of my family

    • Thanks, Justin.

      Just to make this clear for others (I had to look it up): With “E1b1b1b2” you’re referring to a Haplotype, ie a genetic marker considered to be Berber.

  5. I believe much of North Africa was ‘caucasian’ in the past, and that this changed relatively recently due to black slavery. Much of N.Africa [aswell as Judea, Arabia, Yemen and Iraq] imported sub-saharran Africans, much as we in the Americas did. They mixed like crazy. So its not a surprise to see some caucasian looking people there today, though they are remnants of the original population genetics wise.

    So when discussing how they look today, its easy to forget the slavery part of the past. Morocco in particular was populated heavily by Vandal descendants [a German tribe]. Today many of them look black. Some have light skin and blue eyes.

  6. As for Hannibal im sure he looked similar to Zidane in that picture, but with a beard. He was a descendant of the Phoencians. Though i wouldnt go so far as to paint him with Blue eyes or light hair considering the region and recessiveness of those genes. Doing that is akin to trying to say he was black…but in far lesser extreme.

  7. Fascinating, such reconstruction you’re trying of Hannibal’s background and so forth.

    You might then be interested in *a reflection* by Fernand Braudel regarding the permanence today of Hannibal’s civilisation. Despite any defeat, – Braudel says – civilizations are not mortal.

  8. I just want to make a point here, the word Africa doesn’t come from the word ifriqia at all, this is an error. The word Africa comes from the berber word “A verkhan” which means black in berber language. White berbers used it to describ the negroid type of sub-saharians.

    The word ifriqia was only a simple arabicisation of the word A verkhan, A-frican.
    In berber as in english A is the article. Later this word was used to designate the whole continent of Africa.

    Another point berbers of mediterranean shores are caucasoid. Light hair and light eyes type is very frequent.

  9. andreas, it is not mentioned because historians and ethno-linguits always occulted berber language as they’ve done for egypt, ancient egyptian was in fact an amazigh language. The never took into consideration amazigh language as a reference. sadly they didn’t. We amzigh speakers we understand ancient egyptian manguage. scientists said that amazigh language and ta mazight (berber) language are sister languages. Hmmm what does ‘that mean? they are same language.

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