Alice C. Linsley
Adamah (Hebrew: אדמה) refers to the ground or earth. The connection is evident in the relationship of the words human and humus. In Genesis, the Creator forms the human from the dust of the earth or from the clay. In Anthropology, the term for this belief is "autochthonous." (Autochthonous = “auto” meaning by itself + “chthonio” as in ‘chthonic’ out of the ground/earth.)
The idea of autochthonous origin of humans is found in the origin stories of many cultures. This is also linked to skin tone. Black people were thought to be created from rich black alluvial soil and red people from mineral rich red lands. These 7000-year figurines of the Butmir Culture (present day Bosnia) show both types.
The term adam is derived from the root אדם (A.D.M), which means "to be red or ruddy" (Strong’s #119). This suggests that Adam, the father of Cain and Seth, had a red skin one. Dam refers to red blood. Adamah refers to the red ground, and adam is the red man. Genesis 2:7 states that "the adam" was formed out of "the adamah" meaning this human was formed of red earth. In Swahili damu refers to blood and the word binadamu refers to a human being.
The idea of humans having an autochthonous origin is fairly universal which indicates that this is a very ancient belief. There is a general anthropological principle to the effect that the more widespread geographically a belief, custom, or culture trait, the older it is. We see this also with the 100,000-years custom of red ocher burial, and the practice of a people calling itself by a word that means "human" in their language.
Examples include: Ainu (Northern Japan); Dene (Navajo) from an Athabaskan word meaning people or humans. The word Inuit means human. A population of ancient Anatolia called themselves the Nes, meaning humans or people. In ancient Akkadian, the word Hapiru means human being.
Sometimes the name of the people involves reduplication. That is case with the Khoekhoe of Southern Africa. The term khoe means human, and the reduplication khoe khoe makes it a plural form, humans.
Clearly, the genetic diversity of humans was explained by a connection between the people and the land where they resided. In fact, there are as many skin tones among humans as there are soil colors.
Edom in Hebrew means red. The land of Edom was called Idumea by the Greeks. Idumea means "land of red people" and, as is shown in this photo, the land of Edom is red and reddish brown. Esau of Edom is described as red in Genesis. Genesis 36:31 notes that the Horite Hebrew rulers of Edom are said to have an older royal lineage than the Israelite kings.
Along the Nile there were red people living in the "Land of Red People." Their land was rich in the red clay that washed down from the Ethiopian highlands. These soils have a cambic B horizon. Chromic cambisols have a strong red brown color. This was the land of the Red Nubians.
There were both red and black Nubians.
The Nile Valley had both red and black soil. The black soil was alluvial, the result of the annual floods. The red soil was the mineral rich material of the wilderness regions and the chromic cambisols washed down to the Upper Nile from the Ethiopian Highlands.
There were light skin rulers with red hair living along the Nile 5,800 years ago. The vast majority of hair samples discovered at the Predynastic cemetery site HK43 at Nekhen were cynotrichous (Caucasian) as opposed to heliotrichous (Negroid), according to The Nekhen News (p. 7). Samples ranged from a single hair to a complete headful, with the largest number originating from the disturbed Burial no. 16 of a female of around 35+ years of age.
The equation of "African" and "black" is a recent development. Africa has always had the greatest genetic diversity. Some of the San have a yellow skin tone. Nilotic populations were especially diverse with a wide range of hair types, eye colors, and skin tones.
Another fascinating find at Nekhen was the recovery of an almost complete beard in association with the redheaded man in Burial no. 79. The man had long wavy natural red hair and a full beard.