The Meroitic language is the language of the Meroitic state, which was founded between 1000 BC and 750 BC in Nubia and the ancient Egyptian name for Nubia, Kush took over. It was not until several centuries after the founding of the state, the Meroitic language is documented in writing, as the earlier inscriptions (from about 800 BC) have all been written in Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian language. Meroitic names, words and phrases are but occupied as early as the New Kingdom.
The seat of government of the Kushite kingdom was originally situated in the city of Napata at today's Karima. Around 300-bc.html">300 BC, however, the capital was moved to Meroe north of Khartoum. During this time, the cultural basis of Egypt became more and more abandoned, which was also expressed in the development of their own writing and the use of the Meroitic language in official texts.
The Meroitic language is not yet understood. So far it is only possible to translate short formulaic texts of the sacrificial form. There are some loan words from the Egyptian. Usually, it is assumed that the part of the Meroitic Nilo-Saharan. Claude Rilly called Nilo-Saharan counterparts for 39 Meroitic words and showed that there are significant relationships especially in lexicon and morphology to the northern Ostsudanischen; so is the Meroitic probably close to the Nubian languages.
No later than 300 AD collapsed the kingdom of Kush, either because of an environmental disaster or a military defeat by the Ethiopian kingdom of Axum. The script and language were still a short time in use, but were then superseded by other languages , at least in correspondence. The last Meroitic inscription dates from the local king Charamadoye, who reigned shortly after 400 AD.
Examples of known Meroitic words
The translation of the following inscription follows Inge Hofmann.