CHICAGO, IL - March 10 (INB) - The Order of Kush, the first African-oriented honors society - as well as the first international organization dedicated exclusively to studying ancient African history - was launched today in Chicago. "This is the culmination of years of research and study of ancient African history," said Order of Kush founder Earl Smith, explaining that the new co-educational order is named after Kush (present-day Sudan), the ancient rival and southern neighbor of Egypt. Smith, an historian, added that, "In its prime, Kush ruled an empire extending from Ethiopia in southeast Africa to Palestine in the north. The empire included Egypt, where Kushiite kings ruled from roughly 760 BC to 660 BC. During that period, a famous incident involving the Kushiite ruler Taharqua was recorded in the Bible." As the Biblical legend has it, a powerful Assyrian army led by King Sennacherib had laid siege to Jerusalem. The army had already pillaged forty-six Judean towns and cities, "torturing and executing the leaders," according to Henry Aubin, whose 2002 book, The Rescue of Jerusalem: The Alliance Between Hebrews and Africans in 701 BC, re-tells the incident. "But instead of sacking Jerusalem, the invaders hastily abandoned their siege, leaving Jerusalem intact." Why? Aubin goes on to explain that the Bible credits Divine intervention in the form of an angel. Modern scholars, however, have speculated that a plague spread through the ranks of the Assyrian forces, leading to them breaking off the assault. While this hasty retreat of a mighty army remains one of history's most enduring mysteries, Aubin concludes that Egypt's Pharaoh Taharqua's dispatch of his Kushiite army was the main reason for the retreat. What is troubling to both Aubin and Smith is why Western scholars ignored the well-documented Kushiite-Hebrew alliance. Smith goes a bit further: "Why don't scholars emphasize Egypt's African past? Why, when it comes to images of ancient Egypt, we always see pictures of Cleopatra, a Greek, or Nefertiti - who probably was Syrian - as representative of the rulers of ancient Egypt? Why do mainstream scholars shy away from showing the life-size statues of Tutankhamun that were buried in his tomb more than 3,000 years ago? Is it because he is shown with black skin? Yes! Tutankhamun's black skin is seen by modern-day scholars as a 'symbolic' color - an 'earth color' according to one scholar - that Egyptian rulers used when they died. The green skin of the god Osiris, who also has been depicted with black skin, is another so-called earth color." This is a view held by Eurocentric scholars, even though not a single shred of evidence, either historical or archaeological, points to that, he said. "It is because of nonsense like this that I founded the Order of Kush," said Smith. "I am appealing to African-Americans, especially, to take a stand and acknowledge their, and my, African past. We should not allow another generation of Black youths to be brow-beaten by people like the 19th century German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who wrote in his The Philosophy of History: "The Negro exhibits the natural man in his completely wild and untamed state." According to Hegel and his colleagues, said Smith, the African, or Negro, couldn't possibly develop a nation like Egypt, let alone an empire like Kush. Smith said the goal of the Order of Kush is to establish chapters on every college campus in the United States and overseas. He has established a website at: www.orderofkush.com to do just that. “It’s an idea whose time has come,” he said.