Christopher Ehret




Fields of interest: African History: Early Africa; Southern Africa, Eastern Africa, Northeastern Africa; Historical Linguistics.

Education: Ph.D. Northwestern University, 1968





Southern Nilotic History: Linguistic Approaches to the Study of the Past. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1971.

Ethiopians and East Africans: The Problem of Contacts. Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1974.

The Historical Reconstruction of Southern Cushitic Phonology and Vocabulary. Berlin: Reimer, 1980.

(C. Ehret and M. Posnansky, eds.) The Archaeological and Linguistic Reconstruction of African History. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982.

Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic (Proto-Afrasian): Vowels, Tone, Consonants, and Vocabulary. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995.

An African Classical Age: Eastern and Southern Africa in World History, 1000 B.C. to A.D. 400. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998.

A Comparative Historical Reconstruction of Proto-Nilo-Saharan. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, 2001.

The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800. University Press of Virginia, 2002.



“Cattle-Keeping and Milking in Eastern and Southern African History: The Linguistic Evidence,” Journal of African History 8 (1967).

“Sheep and Central Sudanic Peoples in Southern Africa,” Journal of African History 9 (1968).

“Linguistics as a Tool for Historians,” Hadith 1 (1968).

“Cushites and the Highland and Plains Nilotes.” In B.A. Ogot and J. A. Kieran (ed.), Zamani: A Survey of East African History. London, Nairobi: Longmans and East African Publishing House, 1968.

“Language Evidence and Religious History.” In T. O. Ranger and I. N. Kimambo (ed.), The Historical Study of African Religion. London, Berkeley: Heinemann and University of California Press, 1972.

(with M. Bink, T. Ginindza, E. Gottschalk, B. Hall, M. Hlatshwayo, D. Johnson, and R. L. Pouwels) “Outlining Southern African History, A Reconsideration, A.D. 100-1500,” Ufahamu 3 (1972).

“Bantu Origins: Critique and Interpretation,” Transafrican Journal of History 2 (1972).

“Patterns of Bantu and Central Sudanic Settlement in Central and Southern Africa,” Transafrican Journal of History 3 (1973).

“Cushites and the Highland and Plains Nilotes to 1800.” In B. A. Ogot (ed.), Zamani: A Survey of East African History, second edition. London, Nairobi: Longmans, 1974 (completely rewritten version of A.5 above).

“Agricultural History in Central and Southern Africa, ca. 1000 BC to AD 500,” Transafrican Journal of History 4 (1974).

(with T. Coffman, L. Fliegelman, A. Gold, M. Hubbard, D. Johnson, and D. E. Saxon) “Some Thoughts on the Early History of the Nile-Congo Watershed,” Ufahamu 5 (1974).

“The Nineteenth Century Roots of Economic Imperialism in Kenya,” Kenya Historical Review 2 (1974).

(E. A. Alpers and C. Ehret) “Eastern Africa.” In Richard Grey (ed.), Cambridge History of Africa, Vol. 4 (1600-1790). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.

“Linguistic Evidence and its Correlation with Archaeology,” World Archaeology 8 (1976).

“Cushitic Prehistory.” In M. L. Bender (ed.), The Non-Semitic Languages of Ethiopia. East Lansing: Michigan State University, 1976.

“Aspects of Social and Economic Change in Western Kenya, 500-1800.” In B. A. Ogot (ed.), Kenya Before 1900. Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1977.

(L. J. Wood and C. Ehret) “The Origins and Diffusions of the Market Institution in East Africa,” Journal of African Studies 5 (1978).

“On the Antiquity of Agriculture in Ethiopia,” Journal of African History 20 (1979).

“Omotic and the Subclassification of the Afroasiatic Language Family.” In R. Hess (ed.), Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Ethiopian Studies, Part 2. Chicago: University of Illinois, 1980.

“Historical Inference from Transformations in Cultural Vocabularies,” Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 2 (1980).

“The Nilotic Languages.” In E. Polome and C. P. Hill (ed.), Language in Tanzania. London: International African Institute, 1980.

“The Classification of Kuliak.” In T. Schadeberg and M. L. Bender (ed.), Nilo-Saharan. Dordrecht: Foris Publications, 1981.

(C. Ehret and M. Kinsman) “Shona Dialect Classification and its Implications for Iron Age History in Southern Africa,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 14 (1981).

(C. Ehret and D. Nurse) “The Taita Cushites,” Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 3 (1981).

“The Demographic Implications of Linguistic Change and Language Shift.” In C. Fyfe and D. McMaster (ed.), African Historical Demography II. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh, Centre of African Studies, 1981.

“Revising Proto-Kuliak,” Afrika und Übersee 64 (1981).

“Linguistic Inferences about Early Bantu History.” In Ehret and Posnansky (ed.), The Archaeological and Linguistic Reconstruction of African History.

“The First Spread of Food Production to Southern Africa.” In Ehret and Posnansky (ed.), The Archaeological and Linguistic Reconstruction of African History.

“Population Movement and Culture Contact in the Southern Sudan, c. 3000 BC to AD 1000.” In J. Mack and P. Robertshaw (ed.), Culture History in the Southern Sudan, Memoir No. 8, British Institute in Eastern Africa, 1983.

“Nilotic and the Limits of Eastern Sudanic: Classificatory and Historical Conclusions.” In R. Vossen and M. Bechhaus-Gerst (ed.), Nilotic Studies, Part 2. Berlin: Reimer, 1983.

“Between the Coast and the Great Lakes,” Chap. 19 in D. T. Niane (ed.), Africa from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Centuries, Vol. 4, General History of Africa. UNESCO, University of California Press, and Heinemann, 1984.

“Historical/Linguistic Evidence for Early African Food Production.” In J. D. Clark and S. Brandt (ed.), From Hunters to Farmers. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984.

C. Ehret and M. N. Ali, “Soomaali Classification.” In T. Labahn (ed.), Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Somali Studies (Hamburg, August, 1983). Ham¬burg: Buske Verlag, 1985.

“East African Words and Things: Agricultural Aspects of Economic Transformation in the Nineteenth Century.” In B. A. Ogot (ed.), Kenya in the Nineteenth Century (Hadith 8). Nairobi: Historical Association of Kenya, 1985.

“Proposals on Khoisan Reconstruction,” Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 7 (1986).

“Proto-Cushitic Reconstruction,” Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 8 (1987).

“Language Change and the Material Correlates of Language and Ethnic Shift,” Antiquity 62 (1988)

“The East African Interior,” Chapter 22 in M. Elfasi and I. Hrbek (ed.), “Africa from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century,” Vol. 3, General History of Africa. UNESCO, University of California Press, and Heinemann, 1988.

“Social Transformation in the Early History of the Horn of Africa: Linguistic Clues to Developments of the Period 500 BC to AD 500.” In Taddese Bayene (ed.), Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Vol. 1. Addis Ababa: Institute of Ethiopian Studies, 1988.

(C. Ehret, E. D. Elderkin, and D. Nurse) “Dahalo Lexis,” Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere 18 (1989).

“The Origins of Third Consonants in Semitic Roots: An Internal Reconstruction (Applied to Arabic),” Journal of Afroasiatic Languages 3 (1989).

“Subclassification of Nilo-Saharan: A Proposal.” In M. L. Bender (ed.), Topics in Nilo-Saharan Linguistics. Hamburg: Buske, 1990.

“Revising the Consonant Inventory of Proto-Eastern Cushitic,” Studies in African Linguistics 22 (1991).

“Nilo-Saharans and the Saharo-Sudanese Neolithic,” in T. Shaw, P. Sinclair, B. Andah, and A. Okpoko (ed.), The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns. London: Routledge, 1993.

“The Eastern Horn of Africa, 1000 BC to 1400 AD: The Historical Roots,” in A. J. Ahmed (ed.), The Invention of Somalia. Lawrenceville, NJ: The Red Sea Press, 1995.

“Do Krongo and Shabo Belong in Nilo-Saharan?” In R. Nicolai and F. Rottland (ed.), Fifth Nilo-Saharan Linguistics Colloquium, Nice 24-29 August 1992. Actes/Proceedings. Cologne: Rudiger Köppe Verlag, 1995.

“The Establishment of Iron-Working in Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa: Linguistic Inferences on Technological History,” Sprache und Geschichte in Afrika 16/17 (1995/96). [Actual publication year: 2001.]

“Transformations in Southern African History: Proposals for a Sweeping Overview of Change and Development, 6000 BC to the present,” Ufahamu 26 (1997).

“Subclassifying Bantu: The Evidence of Stem Morpheme Innovation.” In L. Hyman and J.-M. Hombert (ed.), Bantu Historical Linguistics: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives. Stanford, California: Center for the Study of Language and Information, 1999).

“Nostratic—or Proto-Human?” In C. Renfrew and D. Nettle (ed.), Nostratic: Examining a Linguistic Macrofamily. Cambridge: The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 1999.

“Who Were the Rock Artists? Linguistic Evidence for the Holocene Populations of the Sahara,” Symposium: Rock Art and the Sahara, edited by Alfred Muzzolini and Jean-Loic Le Quellec, in Proceedings of the International Rock Art and Cognitive Archaeology Congress News95. Turin: Centro Studie Museo d’Arte Prehistorica, 1999. [Published as a CD]

“Language and History.” In B. Heine and D. Nurse (ed.), African Languages: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

“Testing the Expectations of Glottochronology against the Correlations of Language and Archaeology in Africa.” Chapter 15, in C. Renfrew, A. McMahon, and L. Trask (ed.), Time Depth in Historical Linguistics, Vol. 2. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2000.

“Is Krongo After All a Niger-Congo Language?” In R. Vossen, A. Mietzner, and A. Meissner (ed.), “Mehr als nur Worte. . .”: Afrikanistische Beiträge zum 65. Geburtstag von Franz Rottland. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, 2000.

“Sudanic Civilization.” In Michael Adas (ed.), Agricultural and Pastoral Societies in Ancient and Classical History. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, for the American Historical Association, 2001.

“The Eastern Kenya Interior, 1500-1800.” In E. S. Atieno Odhiambo (ed.), African Historians and African Voices. Basel: P. Schlettwein Publishers, 2001.

“The African Sources of Egyptian Culture and Language.” In Josep Cervelló (ed.), África Antigua. El Antiguo egipto, una civilizatión africana. (Actas de la IX2Semana de Estudios Africanos del Centre D’estudis Africans de Barcelona.) Barcelona, 2001.

“Bantu Expansions: Re-envisioning a Central Problem of Early African History,” and “Christopher Ehret Responds,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 34, 1 (2001): 5-41 and 82-87 (pp. 42-81 consists of responses to the article from 14 scholars of African history, linguistics, and archaeology).

“Third Consonants in Chadic Verbal Roots.” In M. Lionel Bender, Gabor Takacz, and David Appleyard (ed.), Selected Comparative-Historical Afrasian Linguistic Studies: In Memory of Igor Diakonoff, pp, 61-69. LINCOM Studies in Afro-Asiatic Linguistics 14. München, LINCOM Europa, 2003.

“Stratigraphy in African Historical Linguistics.” In Henning Andersen (ed.), Language Contacts in Prehistory: Studies in Stratigraphy, pp. 107-114. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2003.

“Language Contacts in Nilo-Saharan Prehistory.” In Henning Andersen (ed.), Language Contacts in Prehistory: Studies in Stratigraphy, pp. 135-157. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2003.

“Language Family Expansions: Broadening our Understanding of Cause from an African Perspective.” Chap. 14 in P. Bellwood and C. Renfrew (ed.), Language and Agricultural Dispersals, pp. 163-176. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2003.

“The Third Consonants in Ancient Egyptian.” In Gabor Takacz (ed.), Egyptian and Semito-Hamitic (Afro-Asiatic) Studies in Memoriam W. Vycichl, pp. 33-54. Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics, Vol. XXXIX. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2003.

C.Ehret, “Toward Reconstructing Proto-South Khoisan (PSAK),” Mother Tongue VIII (2003): 65-81.

C, Ehret, “ Writing African History from Linguistic Evidence.” Chapter 3 in John Edward Philips (ed.), Writing African History, pp. 86-111. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2005. 28 pp. (extension and revision of entry 65 above).

(Elizabeth T. Wood, Daryn A. Stover, C. Ehret, Giovanni Destro-Bisol, Gabriella Spedini, Howard McLeod, Leslie Louie, Mike Bamshad, Beverley I. Strassmann, Himla Soodyall, and Michael F. Hammer) “Contrasting Patterns of Y Chromosome and mtDNA Variation in Africa: Evidence for Sex-biased Demographic Processes.” European Journal of Human Genetics, April 2005. 10 pp.


“Ancient Egyptian as an African Language, Egypt as an African Culture.” In T. Celenko (ed.), Egypt in Africa. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art and Indiana University Press, 1996.

(C. Ehret, S. O. Y. Keita, and Paul Newman) “The Origins of Afroasiatic,” Science 306 (3 December 2004): 1680. 2 pp. (3 pp., including response by Peter Bellwood).


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