The king associated with Babel, where the different branches of the original Noachidian family split into separate cultures, is the Hamitic king, Nimrod, the son of Cush. It is difficult to identify Nimrod with any one of the rulers of Mesopotamia. Levin, for example, suggests that he is a recollection of the famous eastern Semitic ruler Sargon of Akkad (fl. 23rd century BC), who also called himself King of Kish (which may represent the Biblical Cush).
In Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum (Biblical Antiquities) (1st century AD), besides, the Tower of Babel was constructed not just by Nimrod, ruler of the Hamites, but also by Joktan, prince of the Semites, and Phenech, as ruler of the Japhetites. Seely considers the date of the building of the tower to have been between 3500-2400 BC, though it may have been later than the first settlement of Kish around 3100 BC.
Babel tower construction – mosaic in Monreale Cathedral. ( Public Domain )
The dating of the Tower of Babel is significant because, although the vast majority of the people in the Mesopotamian region seem to have been of the Mediterranean type, there is a noticeable difference in the Uruk culture of Sumer (fl. 3500 BC), as well as in early Egypt, between an early stratum of Mediterranean folk and a later brachycephalic, or “Armenoid” one. A major difference that is evident between the Ubaid and Uruk cultures is their respective customs of interment, with the former favoring an extended posture of the corpse and the latter a flexed. While the skulls found in the graves of the Ubaid period are all dolicocephalic and “Mediterranean”, those of the subsequent Uruk culture are mixed, showing at first a “predominance of brachycephali” which is gradually replaced by dolichocephaly. The new race thus seems to have been fully assimilated into the older population.
Armenoid Armenian from Kessab, Jebel Akrah. Classified as such in The Races of Europe: A Sociological Study by William Zebina Ripley. ( Public Domain )
What of Egypt?
The brachycephalic skulls of Uruk are similar to those found also in early dynastic Egypt. Regarding the oldest Egyptian civilization, which we may characterize as Hamitic, following the Bible and Malalas, it is chiefly characterized by the pottery of the area around Badari and Wadi Hammamat. Petrie identified the group around Wadi Hammamat as “Punites”, or the people who came from Punt and worshipped Min of Coptos. Wilkinson, however, has recently claimed that the petroglyphs from the Badarian period (5000-4000 BC) suggest that the origin of Egyptian civilization is to be found in the Eastern Desert itself. Wilkinson maintains that the people who made the petroglyphs were indigenous Badarians since their boat drawings are earlier than those of the Mesopotamians whom Winkler had considered as the source of his hypothetical group of “Eastern Invaders”.
However, even though the Badarians may have been long settled in Egypt, it is possible that the Badarians themselves were not originally native to Egypt since the “rippling” evidenced in their ceramic decorations also bears a resemblance to that of the Palestinians. This Badarian or “Punite” race may thus have been the Hamitic branch of the proto-Dravidian/Hurrian race which first settled Elam, though the latter was probably original to Anatolia whence it spread to both Elam and Palestine.
Pottery Bowl Early Predynastic, Badarian Fifth millennium BC From El-Badari In addition to the regular black top and interior, this bowl has the characteristic faint grooved pattern of the Badarian period on its surfaces. ( Public Domain )
Nevertheless, both in the case of pre-dynastic Egyptians of Naga-ed-der and Giza, and in the case of the Naqada “New Race” graves, G.E. Smith and W.M.F. Petrie, respectively, pointed to the evidence of an intrusive “Armenoid” race that should be distinguished from the original founders of Egyptian civilization. Smith noticed the difference between the indigenous dolicocephalic variety and the alien brachycephalic type both at Naga-ed-der near Abydos and Giza in the Delta, that is, both in Upper and Lower Egypt.
This New Race, also called the Dynastic Race, may have been characteristically brachycephalic, big boned and light-skinned, whereas the Mediterraneans are dolicephalic, small boned and brown. They are in all probability identifiable with the Armenoid, or Alpine, branch of the Indo-Europeans related to the Biblical Japheth.
From Giovanni Battista Belzoni: Egyptian race portrayed in the Book of Gates. ( Public Domain )
This Armenoid type seems to have, already in the fourth millennium BC, entered the Nile Delta from Palestine and Syria, but, as Petrie points out, the type is equally present in Libya and could have entered Egypt from the west as well. In fact, Petrie notices family resemblances between the “new race”, as he calls them, and the Libyans, Palestinians, Amorites, as well as the earliest inhabitants of Mycenae, Cyprus and even central Italy.
Crete in its Neolithic period seemed to Sir Arthur Evans to be “an insular offshoot of an extensive Anatolian province”. The name of the legendary king Minos of Crete is cognate with Manu/Menes [representing the First Man] and this may be due to their racial relation to the “Armenoid” Egyptians of the Delta, and to those farther west, in Libya, in the period immediately following the Neolithic.
The arrival of the new race is dated by Petrie to around 3200 BC, that is, at the time of the Uruk culture, the rise of which may have been dependent on the infusion of newcomers into a more indigenous Mesopotamian society. As in Mesopotamia, the arrival of the “New Race” in Naqada coincides with the emergence of a greater complexity of social organization. The culture of the later dynastic Egyptians probably involved a fusion of the original Badarian with the “New Race”.
Man depicted on Uruk vase, Pergamon Museum ( CC BY 3.0 )
Although the Smith-Petrie theory of the new race has been discounted by contemporary historians, it has been revived recently by a couple of British historians such as David Rohl and Michael Price. And it is quite possible that the “Hamitic” founders of Egyptian dynastic culture and of Sumer may have benefited from an interaction with a rather different race that has been called the New Race, or the Dynastic Race. For a clearer identification of this New Race, we may have to turn to the Beaker Folk who appeared throughout Europe and North Africa in the third millennium BC.