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Debate Rages About Origin of Civilization

February 14, 1991

I have read "Rocking the Cradle of Classical Civilization" (Feb. 1) with interest and some reservations.

Professor Martin Bernal contends the Egyptians and the Phoenicians, not the Greeks, are the originators of Western civilization.

There is no doubt Greece was influenced by Egypt in the field of mathematics and astronomy. For instance, Euclid, Eudoxus and many others studied in Egypt and even the great Plato traveled in Egypt.

But this does not mean Greece was not the originator of Western civilization. The main characteristic of our Western civilization is a movement of liberation and enlightenment. We try to explain things not in terms of myths or in the view of religious authority, but in the light of reason. And it is this world view we inherited from the Greeks, not from the Egyptians or Phoenicians.

Europeans are very proud of their Greek heritage, and because people are jealous or resent the European arrogance, they attempt to minimize the greatness of Greek culture. It is true that the Europeans are arrogant, but this should not be a ground for the distortion of history.


Professor Emeritus

Loyola Marymount University

Los Angeles

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