Meroitic Script Alphabet Alpha-Syllabary

Meroitic Script is an alpha-syllabary(abugida) such as Brahmi and Devanagari. Meroitic has symbols for syllables and vowels, an abugida, like the Ethiopian Geez Script. It is not an alphabet, as the Coptic Alphabet derived from the Greek Alphabet with consonants and vowels. It is alphabetize or an alphabet by definition of using symbols to represent sound. Unlike other alpha-syllabaries, it does not make use of diacritics. The script was deciphered by English intellect Francis Llewellyn Griffith (1862-1934).


The Kushites initially wrote in Hieroglyphs, which most prominent alphabetize Eurasian scripts can be traced to--Greek, Latin, Brahmi, Phoenician, Aramaic. Later around 200 BCE, during their Meroitic phase they developed the Meroitic Alpha-Syllabary. The alpha-syllabary was in use till 500 AD. When Nubians started writing in Meroitic, their history became obscure, since the script can be read but not understood.


Meroitic comes in two forms, hieroglyphs and cursive. Meroitic Script is written from right to left. It has fifteen consonant signs with an inherent vowel /a/. Vowel signs cannot be separated from neighboring consonant signs. Four syllabic symbols, /ne/, /se/, /te/ and /to/, appear in the script. Each syllabic symbol is assigned a vowel that can't be change. The alpha-syllabary status of Meroitic is determined by the initial vowel, final consonant, and consonant cluster of a word. Word dividers are two or three dots in a row. It is not certain if the language of Meroitic was Afroasiatic or Nilo-Saharan, though most scholars lean towards the Nilo-Saharan family, since Nubians ethnolinguistically are Nilo-Saharan speakers. 

List of Meroitic words translated with certainty

Meroitic Meaning
at  bread 
wi  brother 
sem  wife 
kdi  woman 
st, stqo  foot/feet 
edhe, tedhe, dhe  born 
l, de, yel  give 
mk  deity 
lh  great, big 
mlo  good 
mte  small, little 
qore  ruler 
kdke, ktke, kdwe king's sister 
tñyi  lion 
abr  man 
ste  mother 
hr  north 
yirewke  east 
adb  province 
kdis, kdite  sister 
yireke  south 
ato  water 
tenke  west 
erike, terike, yerike begotten 
tbo  two 

Works Cited

Alexander J. de Voogt(2010). The Meroitic script and the understanding of alpha-syllabic writing. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (2010), 73: 101-105 Meroitic Script

Omniglot, writing systems and languages of the world. Meroitic Alphabet 

External Links: