This word has had a very interesting history. Now it has a more or less concrete definition, complete with boundaries, maps and dictionaries to back it up. But it wasn’t always this way. Even today there’s no physical boundary between it and Asia. Consider this quote from Wikipedia (bolding mine):
“Europe is a continent that comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia. Europe is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The eastern boundary with Asia is a historical and cultural construct, as there is no clear physical and geographical separation between them; Europe is generally considered as separated from Asia by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways of the Turkish Straits. Yet the non-oceanic borders of Europe—a concept dating back to classical antiquity—are arbitrary. The primarily physiographic term “continent” as applied to Europe also incorporates cultural and political elements whose discontinuities are not always reflected by the continent’s current overland boundaries.”
– Taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europe, 4th May 2017
The word is of Greek origin, literally translating as “wide eye” or “wide face”. Don’t ask me whose face or eyes are being referred to!
Going back in time, Europe didn’t refer to the same region as today. When the term first started being applied to a place, it meant a much much much smaller place. Ancient Greeks basically used Europe as a new name for Thrace, the home of the ancient Thracian people, and over the years it was expanded to an area more recognisable to modern eyes.
Where would Thrace be today? It’s split between three countries: Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, like so (the yellow bits).
That’s a far cry from Herodotus’s definition of Europe (including India?!?):
As well as Eratosthenes’s and Herodotus’s map:
Which is a far cry from the modern Mercator map definition:
Which is a little off from the more accurate Gall-Peters projection map (red circling mine):
But before all of that, Europe wasn’t the name of a place at all. It was a person’s name – specifically a Phoenician princess. The final ‘e’ wasn’t silent, so it was pronounced more like “you-roper,” hence why it’s nowadays spelt Europa. According to Greek mythology, this princess was kidnapped and carried across the sea by a white bull (see featured image above). That bull was king of the gods Zeus, up to his old date-rape tricks again.
It’s also important to point out something about who Europa was. She was the mother of the king of Crete Minos, who himself was the father of the Minotaur. Europa herself, however, wasn’t from Crete but from Tyre, Phoenicia.
Where is that?
Phoenicia is the Greek name for what the Bible calls Canaan which is named after Canaan, son of Noah’s 2nd son Ham. According to Biblical genealogy, Ham fathered many of the African & Afro-Asiatic peoples. This is evinced by the fact that Canaan (the place) was situated on the coasts of modern Lebanon (where Tyre is), Syria, Palestine/Israel and Turkey as well as Carthage, Tunisia.
That, plus Europa’s curly black hair in the featured image*, should give a huge clue about her ethnic appearance. That image is from approximately 340BC, and another is from around 500 or 490BC, both of which are somewhat close to the time she was supposed to have lived.
* And brownish-orange skin? Despite what a lot of “European” historians like to think, that could very well have been depicting her real skin tone because the artist took the time to paint the bull an unambiguous white. Hmmm…
Other images you might see on the Internet, like the ones below, are from much later periods, spanning the time of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
On a slight tangent, Thrace was also the name of Europa’s sister in Greek myth. Which may say something about the Thracians…
And may give yet more credence to the ‘whites’-are-albino-Asians theory…