Clyde Winters response to Burlak’s Meroitic & Tocharian Part 8: Burlak claims there were no populations in Kush during the switch from Egyptian to Meroitic
6. Burlak claims that there is no evidence of population movement in Kush during this period for the switch from Demotic to Meroitic (p.101).
Ancient Kush extended across a large part of the Sudan. In this vast region encompassing the Napatan and Meroitic civilizations there were many different nationalities, that spoke a myriad of languages.
Due to the ethnic diversity of the Napatans, it is clear that at least from the Napatan period of Kush the rulers of the empire had decided that no single language spoken in the empire would be used to record political, administrative and religious information. To maintain an equilibrium within and among the Napatan nationalities Egyptian was used as the lingua franca of the Napatan empire.
The leaders of the Napatan empire probably used Egyptian because it was an international language, and few Kushites were of Egyptian ethnic origin.Egyptian remained the lingua franca for the Kushites during the Napatan and early Meroitic periods in Kushite history. After the Assyrians defeated the Egyptians the ethnic composition of the Kushite empire began to change. Many Egyptians began to migrate into Kushite, to avoid non-Egyptian rule.
Beginning with the Assyrian defeat of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty large numbers of nomadic people from the Middle East began to migrate into Egypt. These foreign people began to take over many Egyptian settlements. In response, Egyptians fled to Nubia and Kush to avoid non-Egyptian rule.
Other political and military conflicts erupted after the Assyrians defeated the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty. These incidents led many Egyptians to migrate out of Egypt into Nubia and Kush. For example, Herodotus’ mentions the mutiny of Psamtik I’s frontier garrison at Elephantine—these deserters moved into Kush.
The archaizing trend in Kush among the post Twenty-Fifth Dynasty Kings testify to a possible large migration of Egyptians into Kush. In 343 BC Nectanebos II, fled to Upper Egypt. Later according to the Natasen period stela we have evidence of other Egyptians migrating into Kush from Egypt (Torok, 1997, p.391).
Between the 260’s-270’s BC Upper Egyptian Nationalists were fighting the Ptolemy (Greek) rulers of Egypt. The rebellion was put down by Ptolemy II. This military action led to Egyptians migrating out of Egypt into Kush (Torok, pp.395-396). Rebellions continued in Egypt into the 2nd Century BC (Torok, p.426).
Between Ptolomy II and Ptolemy V, the Greeks began to settle Egypt. This was especially true in the 150’sBC. These conflicts led to many Egyptians migrating into Nubia and the Sudan. By the time the Romans entered Egypt, many Egyptians had already left Egypt and settled in the Meroitic Sudan.
Roman politics also forced many Egyptians to migrate into Kush. This was compounded by the introduction of the Pax Agusta policy of the Romans which sought the establishment of Roman hegemony within territories under Roman rule . This led to the emigration of many Romans into Egypt, and the migration of Egyptians into Kush.
During most of Kushite history the elites used Egyptian for record keeping since it was recognized as a neutral language.As more and more Egyptians, fled to Kush as it came under foreign domination . Egyptians became a large minority in the Meroitic Empire. Because of Egyptian migrations to Kush, by the rule of the Meroitic Queen Shanakdakheto, we find the Egyptian language abandoned as a medium of exchange in official records, and the Meroitic script takes its place.
The textual and historical evidence is clear. There was a large migration of Egyptian speaking nationals into Kush. This made Egyptian a major language spoken by Meroitic citizens. The change in demographics in the Meroitic Empire probably led to the shift from Egyptian to Tocharian, which would have been see as a neutral language because only a few Indians were probably living in the empire at the time.