Since the beginning of this millennium, the study of the Meroitic language and writing system has seen substantial advances. The publication of the Répertoire d’Épigraphie Méroïtique in 2000 greatly facilitated the study of Meroitic epigraphy. With these volumes, two books by Claude Rilly from 2007 and 2010 stand out as well. The first provided a new analysis of the Meroitic language drawing all the insights on phonology, morphology, and syntax together and adding valuable paleographic tables of the Meroitic writing system that became immediately useful to archaeologists in Sudan. The second delivered a historical linguistic analysis of Meroitic and its closest relatives, leading the way for new advances with the help of historical reconstructions. All these studies together have provided a solid foundation for future study.
The present work addresses a problem of access. The study of Meroitic is multifaceted and includes epigraphy, paleography, and linguistics. Egyptologists, linguists, and Africanists are interested in the contents for a diverse set of reasons. However, the volumes mentioned earlier are neither introductory nor accessible to those who do not understand French. This excludes not only many Africanists but also many Sudanese scholars and students who wish to learn more about their cultural heritage. A translation of the thousands of pages that were generated in the last decade would undoubtedly be useful, but the field of Meroitic studies also lacks a synthesis that would be accessible to Egyptologists, linguists, and Africanists. This volume addresses this lack by focusing on the latest results rather than the debates that led to these results. Maps, figures, and a Glossary help the various users to gain insight in different ways. The result that is presented here is a book that is a complete resource, brought up to date in a field that is continuously developing. Where necessary, it refers to the important works of the last years for those who wish to review the analyses or access the data that have advanced the field to where it is today. It allows those with different backgrounds to gain substantial knowledge of Meroitic, the language of Kush, which is only slowly giving up its secrets.