The Moors and what color were they
The Moors inhabited Europe from 711 AD, until Columbus set sail to the Indies in 1492. They were driven out by the Spaniards, along with the Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, who ordered the burning of the accumulated literature. Hence a people, their history, culture and empire were lost and forgotten. But not in its entirety.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Moors, as early as the Middle Ages and as late as the seventeenth century were, “commonly supposed to be black or very swarthy, and the word often used for Negro.” James E. Brunson and Runoko Rashidi, authors of The Moors of Antiquity wrote, “There is considerable difficulty in determining the ethnicity of the early Moors through terminology alone.”
There are several terms that have been used to identify the Moors. Arabic texts, for example, rarely used the word Moor and instead applied the term Berber (a word thought by some to be pejorative) to the early non-Arab peoples of Northwest Africa.
What Scholars Say
Although scholars generally agree that the word Moor is derived from Mauri, there are profound disagreements among history authors on what the word originally meant and how it was applied. Philip K. Hitti, author of History of the Arabs, contends that the term Moor has a geographic designation meaning Western. He wrote.“The Romans called Western African Mauretania and its inhabitants, Mauri (presumably of Phoenician origin meaning ‘Western’) whence [the] Spanish Moro [and the] English Moor. The Berbers, therefore, were the Moors proper, but the term was conventionally applied to all Moslems of Spain and North-western Africa.”
Some historians described the Berbers as war-like, nomadic and a predatory population stretching from the borders of Egypt to Morocco, and often lived on the borders of the desert and at the foot of mountains.
Some Were Called Berbers
Further research reveals the Moors were not all of Arab and North African mixed blood as many historians report, many of them were black. According to Ivan Van Sertima, associate professor of African studies at Rutgers University, Black Moors were in every corner of Europe. “Most people do not know that the peoples called Berbers by the classical Greek and Roman historians were black and affiliated with the then contemporary peoples of the East African area.”
Although much of the literature about the Berbers was burned, their presence was recorded by the Vikings and many others. Anthropologist, Dana Reynolds traced the African roots of the original North African peoples through a dozen Greek and Byzantine (neo-Roman writers) from the first to the sixth century AD. They describe the Berber population of Northern Africa, as “black-skinned and woolly-haired.”
The “Moorish” people, as the blacks were described in the pre-Islamic era, were noted for their skin color by such descriptive phrases as “black as melted pitch” and “blacker than ink,” quoted by Van Sertima in his book Golden Age of the Moor. In certain well-known European epics and histories, the phrase “black as a Moor” was used from Roman times until the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, masqueraders used to blacken their faces, so they might better pass as Moors.
Westerners choose to concentrate on the most recent world of the Arab and Berber-speaking peoples as if it is a world that has always been. The story of when North Africa was Moorish and Arabia (land of Saracens) has yet to be told.