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the language of the inscriptions of the kingdom of Meroe on the middle Nile (southern part of present-day Egypt and northern Sudan) from the second half of the first millennium B.C. to the first to fourth centuries A.D.

The inscriptions were written in two variant scripts of the Meroitic alphabet, which was derived from Egyptian writing. The alphabet was deciphered by the English scholar F. Griffith in the early 20th century, but the language is still not fully understood. Judging from the script, Meroitic had few vowels (four) and a relatively simple system of consonants. Grammatical suffixes (indicating case, plurality, and a definite article) and, according to some scholars, prefixes, have been discovered. The meanings of several dozen words have been established. Analysis of these words and the grammatical affixes leads to the rejection of the hypothesis of the German scholars C. Meinhof and E. Zyhlarz concerning the Hamito-Semitic affinity of Meroitic. Some Meroitic words (“man,” “water,” “star”) and certain grammatical morphemes show a resemblance to the Nubian language and other Nilo-Saharan languages, which has prompted the American linguists B. Trigger and J. Greenberg to suggest that Meroitic is related to the Nilo-Saharan languages. This hypothesis, however, remains unproved.


Griffith, F. L. Karanòg: The Meroitic Inscriptions ofShablul and Karanog. Philadelphia, 1911.
Zyhlarz, E. “Das meroitische Sprachproblem.”; Anthropos, 1930, vol. 25.
Hintze, F. “Die sprachliche Stellung des Meroitischen.” Afrikanische Studien, 1955, no. 26.
Vycichl, W. “The Present State of the Meroitic Studies.” Kush, 1958, vol. 6.
Trigger, B. G. “Meroitic and Eastern Sudanic: A Linguistic Relationship?” Kush, 1964, vol. 12.


References in periodicals archive ?
Two Sudanese sites are on UNESCO's World Heritage list - Gebel Barkal and surrounding tombs, temples and other relics from the Napatan and Meroitic periods that followed Egyptian rule.
These are Gebel Barkal and surrounding temples, tombs and other relics from the Meroitic and Napatan periods that came after Egyptian rule.
When commenting on the so-called X people, known for their tombs in the latest stage of Meroitic civilization, Kirwan (1937:60) considered the X group as well as the Nobadai a negroid people.
Set against these deficiencies, the lovely presentation of Meroitic glyphs in Rilly's "Reducing Polyvalency in Writing Systems: From Egyptian to Meriotic" (despite the technological challenge presented by their current absence from the Unicode standard) may be raised as a positive example of the power of the apropos graphic illustration.
The float dedicated to the Meroitic Empire (figure 5), was made up of fourteen women chosen within the Salgueiro community.
The proceedings are multidisciplinary in nature and include such topics as the significance of manifestations of the dead as evidenced in texts from the Old Kingdom to the Coptic period, radiocarbon dating of ancient Egyptian mummies and their associated artifacts, the archival history of Coptic documents from Jeme Held in the British Library, cattle petroglyphs in the eastern desert of Egypt, new findings of Meroitic pottery from Sudan, the locational significance of scatological references in the Coffin Texts, and the localization of the Shasu-land of Rameses II's rhetorical texts.
5 /PRNewswire/ -- Necia Desiree Harkless maps the history of the lost Nubian civilization in her book, "Nubian Pharaohs and Meroitic Kings: The Kingdom of Kush" (now available through AuthorHouse).
Hieroglyphic inscriptions documented their culture and achievements that later developed into their own Meroitic language.
Even when Nubians were in power as in the case of Kerma, of Dynasty XXV, or in Meroitic times slavery continued.
It has even been reported that the first Sudanese to become Christian was a minister in the Meroitic kingdom, in AD35.
Summary: Unprecedented $135 million in funding will support 29 projects including rehabilitation of relics, construction of museums and study of Meroitic language.