The earliest evidence found for the Meroitic writing
dates back to the early second century BC. The Meroitic script
is composed of twenty-three characters, four vowels, fifteen
consonants, and four syllabus signs.1
Meroitic had a flexible, yet advanced, hieroglyphic system.
Both, the hieroglyphic and the cursive versions are read in
the direction that the figures face. However, most of the
cursive writings found are read from right to left and the
hieroglyphs from top to bottom. Words are uniquely separated
by two or three dots. Examples of deciphered Meroitic words
that are commonly found in Meroitic texts include qor
for ruler, kdi for lady, ste for mother, and
mk for god.2
Deciphering Meroitic would be of immense value to our knowledge
of the Kushite civilization. Unfortunately, scholarly efforts
aimed at deciphering the script have been limited. Unless
deciphered, our knowledge of the Kushite kingdom and its people
will remain vague.
Stela inscribed in the Meroitic script.