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Encyclopedia > Meroitic script

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;

  • ne/nya, se, te, to

(there is dispute over whether or not /se/ represented a syllable or just the consonant /s/, as to distinguish it from /sh/).

Enlarge
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.


External links

  • 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)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Meroitic script - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (500 words)
The Meroitic script is an alphabet of Egyptian hieroglyphic and demotic origin that was used to write the Meroitic language of the Kingdom of Mero√ɬę, and possibly the Nubian language of the successor Nubian kingdoms.
The Meroitic script was essentially alphabetic, but with a default vowel /a/ assumed unless another vowel was written.
If it was indeed used by the Nubian kingdoms, the Meroitic script would have been replaced by the Coptic alphabet with the introduction of Christianity to Nubia in the sixth century CE.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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