An Ancient Legend About an Old War Part I
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The following testimony was written by Girolamo Schiaparelli, an Italian archaeologist who visited the area of ​​██████ (northern Sudan) in 1963 and 1966, performing excavations related to the ancient kingdom of Kush1. At that time he had contact with the Genbezi tribe ("The Village" in their language), an ethnic minority group. During his relationship with them he met a legend of the Genbezi who, according to Dr. Matthieu Desmarais, is related to at least three interest groups, and further argues that it is a mythological and allegorical narrative that has been preserved by an oral tradition dating back at least three thousand years.2

Schiaparelli died of cancer in 1978, without having returned to Sudan since his last archaeological expedition. As for the Genbezi, it has not been possible to contact them, and it is very likely that they were forced to move from their territory because of the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005), therefore, or they have become extinct3 or were absorbed by a larger ethnic group, disappearing as an independent culture.

This document was named by him "Genbezi A", and there are several references to a second document called "Genbezi B" that has not been recovered. The irrelevant parts have been edited.

Dr. Judith Low, Senior Advisor of the History Department.


Rome, April 1977

I met the Genbezi (often misnamed "Hembezi" or "Yembezi") on my first trip to Sudan, when I was part of the archaeological expedition that explored the ruins of ██████. That's when they saved my life, or pretty close. I had an accident when I was traveling by motorcycle, it was not serious, some scratches, but the bike was broken and left alone in the middle of the desert, a few kilometers from the excavation but totally disoriented. I did not know which way to go, but before the desperation overwhelmed me, a couple of black children, no more than 8 years old, with a donkey appeared, and helped me get to the camp.

A few days later I went to his village, accompanied by Mahjoub, one of our translators, bringing them some gifts as thanks, including a couple of bottles of araqi4. They accepted the gifts without shyness, almost arrogantly, or at least Mahjoub interpreted it, who did not have a good opinion of them.

They called me a lot of attention, I'm not an ethnologist but they turned out to be curious people, not only for being blacks and animists in an exclusively Arab and Muslim region, but for what our workers and guides said about them. They were considered arrogant, apparently believed descendants of the ancient kings of Nubia, were pagans who worshiped plants, and all kinds of rumors ran over them, some quite injurious. They were not arrogant, though proud, and distrustful of foreigners, and rightly so, their Arab neighbors had tormented them for centuries and sometimes they had been attacked and kidnapped their women and children to sell them as slaves in the countries to the north, to the shore of the Mediterranean. Even in recent years! Hence his distrust of strangers, including myself and all the rest of the team, who were probably the first whites they saw in their lives.

Shortly after a strange accident occurred, we found a very interesting metallic device, of unknown function, but before studying it in detail some of our fellah hired as diggers fled taking it, along with some other minor parts and a van. But they were not very far, we do not know exactly what happened but we found the stolen vehicle a few kilometers away, totally destroyed, and the bodies of the five thieves. It was simply in the middle of the desert, burned, it did not overturn or collide, it was only destroyed, as if something more than fuel had exploded5(…)

I suggested to my team to hire some genbezi as workers, and accepted the proposal, albeit reluctantly. They were good workers, obedient and dignified, although they kept away from the other diggers. They awoke even more my curiosity and often spoke with them, they spoke Arabic but also their own dialect, of which I only knew a few words and that seemed to belong to the family of the Nilotic languages6 (…)

In 1966 I returned to Sudan for a longer period. Again we hired several genbezi and became friends with one of them, named Husham. We talked often and he told me about his culture and the history of his people (…) They considered themselves descendants of the "Great Kings" of the past (the pharaohs) and told a convoluted story of betrayal, where the ancient priests of the perfidious gods animal head they were expelled for worshiping their God of the forests and oases. It took me a while to realize that he was not talking about the kingdom of Kush or any Nubian kingdom, but about Egypt itself, exiled for heresy because of the jealousy of the priestly class. I have said before that they were animists, animism -very simplified- consists in the belief that both objects and animals have conscience and soul, but in their case it was different, they worshiped a unique God different from any of the Egyptian or Nubian pantheon and believed in which all the plants had a soul, although the majority did not have conscience (…) It goes without saying that their Muslim neighbors considered them a strange race of infidels.


One of the few photographs that exist of the Genbezi, taken in 1946 by the photographer J.J. Carson.

Husham was very interested in the work we did, and even more so when I described it as a way of preserving the cultural legacy of our ancestors. That woke up an idea in him, and he consulted with the elders of his tribe. They asked me to visit them - something quite unusual - with only a few days left until our work in Sudan was finished.

I spoke with the elders, I had to explain my work and how I intended to preserve the cultural heritage of the ancients. It was difficult to explain to them because there was a barrier not only in terms of language but also cultural, but in the end they understood, and they told me that if I stayed until night they would show me something that they had guarded for a hundred generations (that was the expression they used). I was intrigued enough to listen to them, and despite the warnings of my Arabic translator, who said he would not lend himself to that, I stayed.

I had time to regret when they blindfolded me and they mounted me on top of a donkey. That was how I traveled for more than an hour, although in reality I have no idea how much time really passed. I finally dismounted and they helped me up a steep slope, and then I had to kneel and crawl on rock. And finally they took off my bandage.

It was amazing, I never had an equal impression before, even when I first visited Tutankhamun's tomb, although that was totally different. It was more a temple than a tomb, a cave with an incredible sample of Egyptian art, and I say Egyptian because there were few characteristically Nubian elements, beyond a few texts in the Meroitic alphabet. I have described in more detail what I found in the document marked "Genbezi B" which also includes the texts I copied from the cave, both hieroglyphics and Meroitic alphabet (my notes could serve as a Rosetta stone to translate this last form of writing). The paintings that I found, although somewhat deteriorated by the passage of time, were amazing, clear and of great expressive force, narrating an ancient legend about a battle between the gods. But these were not Egyptian gods, despite the art in which they were represented, these were gods totally alien to that civilization, and apparently had no link with the deities of Semitic peoples such as Assyrians or Phoenicians, were something entirely different.

They allowed me to draw everything I wanted in my notebook, whether they were images or texts. I was really excited, and even more when they told me it was not the only cave, there were more and all scrupulously hidden by them, although this was the best preserved. They had kept the secret for many generations, it was very valuable to them and I was the first foreigner who saw them in centuries, and they only showed them to me because they feared for their future, since things were difficult for them and could get even worse, were heretics worshipers of a vegetable god in a Muslim land (…)

Husham told me an old legend, which they sing in their festivities -they are governed by a strictly lunar calendar- and that is told in the paintings and texts of the cave that they showed me. They sing it in their enigmatic dialect and Husham translated it more or less in an acceptable way into Arabic. Comparing the Arabic translation with the hieroglyphics that I copied, I present a version of this legend quite close to the original:

Where is our destination?

Our destiny is ahead.

Is our destiny marked?

Our destiny is not marked.

We own our destiny.

Zenobio believed in the Olympians, victors of the titans, lords of the earth, the sea and the world of the dead. He prayed to Zeus, made offerings to Aphrodite and dedicated sacrifices to Athena, even, if the occasion deserved it, could even pray to Ares, the inconstant. He fought not for love or pride, not for his city or his homeland, he fought for gold, and not even for his family, since he still did not have a wife or father children. That time would come, when I had enough gold to found a home. That day he would bury his sword and plant an olive tree on top of it, but that day had not yet arrived.

But on this day he marched with other warriors, four times a hundred men, half hired swords from Euboea, his homeland, many of them he knew by name or face. The others were wild Thracian worshipers of Ares, the brutal and inconstant, and also Wilusa7 with scale armor and a language that sounded like stones jolting in a bag. But now they were all united by a payment and by a temporary master for whom they would fight, and possibly die, but he did not think about that. One should not go to battle thinking about that.

And they had the colossus, and they escorted him. But when the escorts had been frightened by what they had to protect? Because when they saw him for the first time they were frightened, even the ferocious Thracians felt his heart freeze and his legs become weak. He had heard of the wonders made in metal of the sons of Hêphaistos8 weapons and shields of a metal harder than bronze, amazing war machines that launched bolts capable of traversing six men and reloading in less than two sighs, even heard about men and animals of metal that were not alive but they moved as if they were, and they even ate, drink and played throwing astragali9.

But this was totally different, first they heard his footsteps, they rumbled like thunder, it was as if a storm was approaching, but a storm that was brewing under the earth, in the dominions of Hades. Then they saw him in the distance, a bronze man, shining in the midday sun, walking in a rigid and unnatural way, dropping his feet heavily and producing distant thunder. It was far away at first so they did not see how colossal it was, although it was frightening, but it approached little by little, and the mercenaries realized that it was higher than any Aegean temple, higher than any tree in any forest in the world.

He was tall as a god, and could easily be mistaken for one, all the swords and spears hired, even the fierce Thracians, stepped back a few steps when that colossus cast its shadow over them, and before they disbanded the patriarch Pinedyem, came from the country of Kemet10, who spoke to them with a powerful and authoritative voice.

-Don't fear! The colossus is not your enemy, the colossus is not alive, it is a simple tool, like a hammer or your weapons. And do not confuse him with a god, because that is heresy, he is the work of a god, He who was One and now is divided, Hêphaistos mekhanites.

And a trapdoor was opened in the heel of the colossus, and seven men with rare armor came out and the patriarch presented them as those who handled the mechanisms of the bronze giant. It was hard to believe such a thing, but that reassured the warriors enough, although they did not like the news that the colossus would accompany them-or rather they would accompany the colossus-all the way to the city of bloody flesh and stairs of Ady-Tum

Their new masters were generous with them, a hundred warriors were given Limnos swords, which could be set ablaze at the will of their bearer,11as well as several metallic arcs whose arrows would burn for days.
(Apparently a part is missing here)

Do not trust who considers the blacksmith a god, he only makes weapons and tools, he molds the stones of the earth, his work is commendable. But he can not create life, he can not make the seed of your soul last and fall on fertile ground, where it can sprout.

Beware of those who consider the flesh a god, the flesh is an impure material, it will dominate you with its appetites, it will plunge you into the dust, and in the end only excrements remain. There is no peace or truth in the blood-filled steps of the followers of the flesh or in their parties where the seed of your genitals is spilled impudently. Do not trust who says you will live a thousand generations if you adore him

End of Part I

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