The Meroitic script is an alphabet of Egyptian (Hieroglyphic) origin used in Kingdom of MeroŽ. Some scholars, e.g. Haarmann, claim that Greek has also played a role in shaping this new alphabet. The script worked quite differently to the way Egyptian hieroglyphs worked.
There were 23 symbols in total, four vowels;
- a (which was only used at the beginning of a word), e, i, o
Fifteen consonants + the vowel /a/;
- ya, wa, ba, pa, ma, na, ra, la, cha(as in German ich), kha(as in German Bach), ka, qa, sa or sha, ta, da
And four syllabic letters;
(there is dispute over whether or not /se/ represented a syllable or just the consonant /s/, as to distinguish it from /sh/).
Meroitic hieroglyphic and demotic writing
The Meroitic script was a sort of abugida, with the exception of the syllabic letters, if a vowel followed a consonant, it muted the inherent vowel /a/ and the consonant was pronounced with that vowel instead. There was no way to distinguish between an individual consonant or a consonant plus /a/. Writing was from right to left, top to bottom or top to bottom in columns going from right to left. The hieroglyphic script used similar composition rules to Egyptian hieroglyphics, the signs faced towards the end of a text towards the beginning like Egyptian. There was also a sign; three (horizontal or vertical) dots used to divide words or phrases, this was the only punctuation used.
There was also a form of hand writing, called demotic after its stylistic similarity to Egyptian demotic, which used the same spelling system as the hieroglyphic script but was simplified to facilitate fast writing. The majority of Meroitic texts are written in demotic.
- Meroitic - AncientScripts (http://www.ancientscripts.com/meroitic.html)
- Meroitic font (http://reinhold.kainhofer.com/rk_fonts/rkaf_meroitic.html)
- Proposal to encode Meroitic in Unicode (http://std.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/wg2/docs/n1638/n1638.htm)
- Examples of Meroitic script (http://www.digitalegypt.ucl.ac.uk/nubia/mwriting.html)