Constantin François de Chassebœuf, comte de Volney (3 February 1757 – 25 April 1820) was a French philosopher, historian, orientalist, and politician. He was at first surnamed Boisgirais after his father’s estate, but afterwards assumed the name of Volney (which he had created as a contraction of Voltaire and Ferney).
"Just think,” de Volney declared incredulously, ”that this race of Afrakan men, today our slave and the object of our scorn, is the very race to which we owe our arts, sciences, and even the use of speech! Just imagine, finally, that it is in the midst of people who call themselves the greatest friends of liberty and humanity that one has approved the most barbarous slavery, and questioned whether Afrakan men have the same kind of intelligence as Europeans!
”In other words the ancient Egyptians were true Negroes of the same stock as all the autochthonous peoples of Africa and from the datum one sees how their race, after some centuries of mixing with the blood of Romans and Greeks, must have lost the full blackness of its original color but retained the impress of its original mould.”
”All the Egyptians," wrote de Volney, "have a bloated face, puffed-up eyes, flat nose, thick lips – in a word, the true face of the mulatto. I was tempted to attribute it to the climate, but when I visited the Sphinx, its appearance gave me the key to the riddle. On seeing that head, typically Negro in all its features, I remembered the remarkable passage where Herodotus says:
’ As for me, I judge the Colchians to be a colony of the Egyptians
because, like them, they are darkskin with woolly hair…
“When I visited the Sphinx, I could not help thinking that the figure of that monster furnished the true solution to the enigma (of how the modern Egyptians came to have their ‘mulatto’ appearance)
M. Constantine de Volney, Travels through Syria and Egypt in the Years 1783, 1784, and 1785 (London: 1787), p. 80-83.