Sunday, November 26, 2017


     The Kushites and Egyptians had a close relationship for millennia. As a result the Egyptians had a tremendous influence on the culture of the Kushites, especially in the area of religion[i].
     As early as the 12th dynasty the Egyptians controlled Nubia. After 1674 BC, the Kerma rulers regained control of Nubia until the raise of the New Kingdom. Pharaohs of the New Kingdom ruled Egypt for 500 years.
    Nubia gained independence after the decline of Egypt in 1085 B.C. During this period the Kushites developed a highly developed civilization at Napata and Meroe (880 B.C.-A. D. 350). Over time the Kushites became strong enough to conqueror Egypt and found the 25th Dynasty.
     The long association of Egypt and Nubia suggest that the Egyptians may have influenced more than the culture of the Kushites. In this paper we will review the affinities between the Egyptian and Meroitic languages.
       Ll. Griffith during his decipherment of Meroitic (M.) found many Egyptian (E.) terms . These terms were especially used in the political culture area e.g., E. p-sy-n-nsw  'son of king' >
M. pesto 'king's foothold/foundation of light' .
     Now that we have more evidence about the Meroitic  language we can now compare Egyptian and Meroitic to determine if there are any other similarities between these languages. Below are some Meroitic terms that illustrate the influence of Egyptian on Meroitic.

       Several aspects of Demotic grammar agree with Meroitic structure. This is especially true in relation to the formation of the adjective case and the use of pronouns.

    The Meroitic funerary tablets are written in the third or second person. Meroitic words are usually formed by the addition of post-positions or suffixes. The Meroitic pronouns are suffixed to Meroitic words. They include, -te  'you, thou'; -t  'her, he'; ne  'his'; -to 'your'; and the -n and a third person singular suffixes. For example:
         -n     s/he, it, her, his
          i "go", i-n  'he goes'
         de 'bequeathal', de-n  'his bequeathal'
         qe  'make'  , qe-n     'he makes'
     In Demotic we see use of suffixial pronouns. For example:
         sdm  'hear'  
         sdmy    'I hear'
         sdm .f   'he hear'
         sdm hr-f    'he will hear'
    In Meroitic the adjective is placed behind the noun. For example,
        e       'complete'
       ŝ on tene   'The king commence(s) the rebirth'.
       ŝ on tene-e  'The king commence(s) the complete rebirth'.
     Adjectives in Demotic are also placed behind the noun. For example:
           rmt    hm    ' small man'
           ŝy   nfr     ' good fate'
           ssw   sbk    ' few days'
     The -m suffix was used in Meroitic to denote the negative effect. The negative particle -m, is often joined to verbs along with the pronoun. For example:
          mi-n   'injure him', mi-m-n 'injure him not'.

In Meroitic tablets the negative suffix rarely appears.
     The Egyptian negative particle m, agrees with Meroitic. In Demotic the negative particle mn-, is prefixed, e.g.,
     mn lh gm hw  'no fool finds profit'. 
     In the short review above of Egyptian and Meroitic cognates we can see the obvious influence of Egyptian, especially Demotic on Meroitic. This influence was shown not only in vocabulary but also grammatical features.     
      This linguistic material discussed above clearly suggest some Egyptian substrata influence on Meroitic. It indicates  Egyptian influence on both the structure and vocabulary of Meroitic.
     It is very interesting to note that much of the affinity between Meroitic and Egyptian is based on Demotic examples. This may be explained by the fact that Demotic was used by the Kushites during the 25th Dynasty, and forms the foundation for the Meroitic writing.

[i].J.H. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press,1991 and D. O'Connor, Ancient Nubia, Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1993)

No comments: