Three Tribes of Ethiopians were the Hesperians, Garamantes, and Indians

Source: Ethiopia and India: Fusion and Confusion in British Orientalism (Open Edition Journals) 2016 A.D.

From the source, “


In fact, Jones and Wilford, whether deliberately or not, whether directly or indirectly, are responding to explicit claims that reach back to Greek antiquity. Speculation about the race and origins of Indians and Ethiopians occurs as early as Herodotus, who observes that Indians are “all black-skinned, like the Ethiopians.” He adds: “Their semen, too, which they ejaculate into the women, is not white like other men’s, but black like their skin, and resembles in this respect that of the Ethiopians” (3.101). In the next century, Aristotle corrects him on the colour of the Ethiopians’ semen and affirms that all semen is white but, significantly, says nothing about Herodotus’ other comments (History of Animals 2.2.736a). Numerous authors remark on the blackness of Ethiopians and Indians alike and attempt to discern variations, shades of blackness, and other differences in snub-noses and hair. Strabo, to whom Jones refers in the quotation above, says that southern Indians resemble Ethiopians (northern Indians resemble Egyptians) but their faces and hair are not similar; later, he adds that Indians are not intensely dark since they live in a humid region and they do not have woolly hair (Geography 15.1.13).64 Arrian makes a similar point about the complexion, woolly hair, and snub-nosed appearance of southern Indians (Indica 6.9).

55Even the idea that the Ethiopians were originally Indians and migrated to Africa finds an echo in the Greek and Latin texts. According to one character in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana, an admittedly colourful narrative of the third century, the Ethiopians lived in India and migrated to their current area of habitation only later (3.2).


The conflation between the biblical Hebrew and the classical Greek and Latin materials reaches some kind of head already in the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, who died in 636, and who wrote, “Ethiopians are so called after a son of Ham named Cush, from whom they have their origin. In HebrewCush means “Ethiopian.” This nation, which formerly emigrated from the region of the river Indus, settled next to Egypt between the Nile and the Ocean, in the south very close to the sun. There are three tribes of Ethiopians: Hesperians, Garamantes, and Indians” (9.2.127–28). “

This source confirms the ancient black presence of the northern regions of Africa and the similarities between Indians and Ethiopians.

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