The Meroitic Ethiopian Origins of the Modern Oromo Nation
This paper deals, among others, with the development of Meroitic studies, the Meroitic civilization, the destruction of the city of Meroe, the dispersal of the Meroitic people after the collapse of their state, the Christianization of the post Meroitic states, the migration of the remnants of the Meroitic people in the direction of the Blue Nile and their possible relation of ancestry with the modern Cushitic language speaking Oromo nation. It must be stated clearly at the outset that the issue of Meroitic ancestry of the Oromo nation has not been considered, much less published in an academic journal or scholarly books. The paper was first presented in an academic conference organized by the Oromo Studies Association. Footnotes have been added recently.
1. The Development of the Meroitic Studies, the History of Kush and Meroe, and the Efforts to Decipher the Meroitic Scripture Interest in what was Ethiopia for the Ancient Greeks and Romans, i.e. the Northern territory of present day Sudan from Khartoum to the Egyptian border1, led to the gradual development of the modern discipline of the Humanities that long stood in the shadow of
Egyptology: the Meroitic Studies
Considerable advances had been made in academic research and knowledge as the result of the exploratory trips of the Prussian pioneering Egyptologist Richard Lepsius2 (1842 â€“ 1844) that bestowed upon modern scholarship the voluminous 'DenkmÃ¤ler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien' (Monuments from Egypt and Ethiopia), and the series of excavations by E. A. Wallis Budge3 and John Garstang4 at Meroe (modern Bagrawiyah) in the first years of the twentieth century, Francis Llewellyn Griffith5 at Kawa (ancient Gematon, near modern Dongola, 1929 â€“ 1931), Fritz Hintze6 at Musawwarat es Sufra, Jean Leclant7 at Sulb (Soleb), Sadinga (Sedeinga), and Djebel Barkal (ancient Napata, modern Karima) in the 1950s and the 1960s, D. Wildung8 at Naqah, and Charles Bonnet at Kerma. . The pertinent explorations and contributions of scholars like A. J. Arkell9, P. L. Shinnie10 and Laszlo Torok11 that cover a span of 80 years reconstituted a large part of the greatness and splendor of this four-millennia long African civilization.
Yet, due to the lack of direct access to original sources and genuine understanding of the ancient history of Sudan, the legendary Ethiopia of the Greeks and Romans, which also corresponds to what was â€˜Kushâ€™ of the Hebrews Bible and ultimately â€˜Kasâ€™ of the ancient Egyptians12, we face a serious problem of terminology. We are confined to such terms as Period (or Group) A (3100 â€“ 2700 BCE),13 Period B14 (2700 â€“ 2300 BCE that starts with Pharaoh Snefruâ€™s expedition,15 and the beginning of time-honored enmity between Egypt and Kush), Period C16 (2300 â€“ 2100 BCE, when we have no idea to what specific ethnic or state structures the various Egyptian names Wawat, Irtet, Setjiu,Yam, Zetjau, and Medjay refer)17, Period Kerma18 (2100 â€“ 1500 BCE, named after the modern city and archeological site, 500 km in the south of the present Sudanese â€“ Egyptian border). What we know for sure is that, when the first Pharaohs of the New Empire invaded and colonized the entire area down to Kurgus19 (more than 1000 km alongside the Nile in the south of the present Sudanese â€“ Egyptian border), they established two top Egyptian administrative positions, namely â€˜Viceroy of Wawatâ€™ and â€˜Viceroy of Kush/Kasâ€™. Wawat is the area between Aswan and Abu Simbel or properly speaking, the area between the first and the second cataracts whereas Kas is all the land that lies beyond. With the collapse of the Kerma culture comes to end a first high-level culture and state in the area of Kush.
We employ the term â€˜Kushitic Periodâ€™20 to refer to the subsequent period: a) the Egyptian annexation (1500 â€“ 950 BCE) that was followed by a permanent effort to egyptianize Kush and the ceaseless Kushitic revolutions against the Pharaohs;
b) the Kushitic independence (950 â€“ 800 BCE, when a state is formed around Napata21, present day Karima, 750 km in the south of the Sudanese â€“ Egyptian border);
c) the Kushitic expansion and involvement in Egypt (800 â€“ 670 BCE, which corresponds mostly to the XXVth - â€˜Ethiopianâ€™ according to Manetho22 - dynasty of Egypt, when the Theban clergy of Amun made an alliance with the Kushitic â€˜Qoreâ€™ â€“ Kings of Napata, who had two capitals, Napata and Thebes);23 and d) the Kushitic expulsion from Egypt (following the three successive invasions of Egypt by Emperors Assarhaddon24 in 671 BCE, and Assurbanipal25in 669 and 666 BCE, and of Assyria, who made an alliance with the Heliopolitan26 priesthood and Libyan princes against the Theban clergy and the Kushitic kings), and gradual decline (following the invasions by Psamtik/Psammetichus II27 in 591 BCE, and the Achaemedian28 Persian Shah Kambudjiyah/Cambyses29 in 525 BCE) until the transfer of the capital far in the south at Meroe, at the area of present day Bagrawiyah (at the end of the reign of Qore Nastasen30between335 and 315 BCE).
We call â€˜Meroiticâ€™ the entire period that covers almost 700 years beginning around 260 BCE with the reign of the successors of Nastasen (Arkamaniqo / Ergamenes31 (the most illustrious among the earliest ones and the first to be buried at Meroe / Bagrawiyah), down to the end of Meroe and the destruction of the Meroitic royal cities by the Axumite Abyssinian Negus Ezana32 (370 CE). It is easily understood that â€˜Kushiticâ€™ antedates â€˜Meroiticâ€™, but the appellations are quite conventional.
The Ancient people of Kush (or Ethiopia) entered into a period of cultural and scriptural radiation and authenticity relatively late, around the third century BCE, which means that the development took place when Meroe replaced Napata as capital of the Kushites / Meroites. Before that moment, they used Egyptian Hieroglyphic scripture for all purposes of writing, administrative, economic, religious and/or royal. The introduction of the Meroitic alphabetic hieroglyphic writing spearheaded the development of a Meroitic cursive alphabetic scripture that was used for less magnificent purposes than palatial and sacred relief inscriptions. The first person to publish Meroitic inscriptions was the French architect Gau33, who visited Northern Sudan in 1819. Quite unfortunately, almost two centuries after the discovery, we risk being left in mysteries with regard to the contents of the epigraphic evidence collected in both scriptural systems.
The earliest dated Meroitic hieroglyphic inscriptions belong to the reign of the ruling queen Shanakdakheto34 (about 177-155 BCE), but archaeologists believe that this scripture represents the later phase of a language spoken by Kushites / Meroites at least as far back as 750 BCE and possibly many centuries before that (hinting at a Kushitic continuity from the earliest Kerma days). The earliest examples of Meroitic cursive inscriptions, recently found by Charles Bonnet in Dukki Gel (REM 1377-78)35, can be dated from the early second century BCE. The latest text is still probably the famous inscription from Kalabsha mentioning King Kharamadoye (REM 0094)36 and dated from the beginning of the fifth century AD, although some funeral texts from Ballana37 could be contemporary if not posterior.
Despite the fact that F. L. Griffith has identified the 23 Meroitic alphabetic scriptureâ€™s signs already in 1909, not much progress has been made towards an ultimate decipherment of the Meroitic38. Scarcity of epigraphic evidence plays a certain role in this regard, since as late as the year 2000 we were not able to accumulate more than 1278 texts. If we now add to that the lack of lengthy texts, the lack of any bilingual text (not necessarily Egyptian /Meroitic, it could be Ancient Greek / Meroitic, if we take into consideration that Arkamaniqo / Ergamenes39 was well versed in Greek), and a certain lack of academic vision, we understand why the state of our knowledge about the history of the Meroites is still so limited.
Linguistics and parallels from other languages have been repeatedly set in motion in order to help the academic research. Griffith and Haycock40 tried to read Meroitic using (modern) Nubian. K.H. Priese41 tried to read the Meroitic text using Eastern Sudanese (Beja42 or Hadendawa43); and F. Hintze44, attempted to compare Meroitic with the Ural-Altaic group. Recently Siegbert Hummel45, compared the "known" Meroitic words to words in the Altaic family which he believed was a substrate language of Meroitic. At times, scholars (like Clyde Winters46) were driven to farfetched interpretations, attempting to equate Meroitic with Tokharian, after assuming a possible relationship between the name Kush and the name Kushan47 of an Eastern Iranian state (of the late Arsacid48, 250 BCE â€“ 224 CE, and early Sassanid49, 224 â€“ 651 CE, times)! However, one must state that the bulk of the researchers working on the Meroitic language do not believe that it was a member of the Afro-Asiatic group.
So far, the only Meroitic words for which a solid translation had been given by Griffith and his successors are the following: man, woman, meat, bread, water, give, big, abundant, good, sister, brother, wife, mother, child, begotten, born, feet. The eventual equivalence between Egyptian and Meroitic texts was a strong motivation for any interpretational approach, recent or not. More recent, but still dubious, suggestions are the following: arohe- Â«protectÂ», hr- Â«eatÂ», pwrite Â«lifeÂ», yer Â«milkÂ», ar Â«boyÂ», are- or dm- Â«take, receiveÂ», dime Â«cowÂ», hlbi Â«bullÂ», ns(e) Â«sacrifice, sdk Â«journeyÂ», tke- Â«love, revereÂ», we Â«dogÂ». It is clear that vocalization remains a real problem50.
Through the aforementioned we realize why collective works, like Fontes Historiae Nubiorum. Textual Sources for the History of the Middle Nile Region (vols. I â€“ IV, edited by T. Eide, T. HÃ¤gg, R.H. Pierce, and L. TÃ¶rÃ¶k, University of Bergen, Bergen 1994, 1996. 1998 and 2000), are still seminal for our â€“ unfortunately indirect, as based on Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Latin and Coptic texts â€“ knowledge of Meroe.
2. The End of Meroe
Amidst numerous unclear points of the Kushitic / Meroitic history, the end of Meroe, and the consequences of this event remain a most controversial point among scholars. Quite indicatively, we may mention here the main efforts of historical reconstitution.
A. Arkell, Sayce and others asserted that Meroe was captured and destroyed, following one military expedition led by Ezana of Axum.
B. Reisner insisted that, after Ezanaâ€™s invasion and victory, Meroe remained a state with another dynasty tributary to Axum.
C. Monneret de Villard and Hintze affirmed that Meroe was totally destroyed before Ezanaâ€™s invasion, due to an earlier Axumite Abyssinian raid.
D. Torok, Shinnie, Kirwan, Haegg and others concluded that Meroe was defeated by a predecessor of Ezana, and continued existing as a vassal state.
E. Bechhaus- Gerst specified that Meroe was invaded prior to Ezanaâ€™s raid, and that the Axumite invasion did not reach lands further in the north of Meroe51
With two fragmentary inscriptions from Meroe, one from Axum, two graffitos from Kawa and Meroe, and one coin being all the evidence we have so far, , we have little to reconstruct the details that led to the collapse of Meroe. One relevant source, the Inscription of Ezana (DAE 11, the â€˜monotheisticâ€™ inscription in vocalized Geâ€™eze),52 remains a somewhat controversial historical source to be useful in this regard. The legendary Monumentum Adulitanum53, lost but copied in a confused way by Cosmas Indicopleustes54, may not shed light at all on this event. One point is sure, however: there was never a generalized massacre of the Meroitic inhabitants of the lands conquered by Ezana. The aforementioned DAE 11 inscription mentions just 758 Meroites killed by the Axumite forces.
What is even more difficult to comprehend is the reason behind the scarcity of population attested on Meroitic lands in the aftermath of Ezanaâ€™s raid. The post-Meroitic and pre-Christian, transitional phase of Sudanâ€™s history is called X-Group55 or period, or Ballana Period and this is again due to lack to historical insight. Contrary to what happened for many centuries of Meroitic history, when the Meroitic South (the area between Shendi56 and Atbara57 in modern Sudan with the entire hinterland of Butana that was called Insula Meroe / Nesos Meroe, i.e. Island Meroe in the Antiquity) was overpopulated, compared to the Meroitic North (from Napata / Karima to the area between Aswan58 and Abu Simbel59, which was called Triakontaschoinos60 and was divided between Meroe and the Roman Empire), during the X-Group times, the previously under-populated area gives us the impression of a more densely peopled region, if compared to the previous center of Meroitic power and population density. The new situation contradicts earlier descriptions and narrations by Dio Cassius 61 and Strabo.62
Furthermore, the name â€˜Ballana periodâ€™ is quite indicative in this regard, Ballana being on Egyptian soil, whereas not far in the south of the present Sudanese â€“ Egyptian border lies Karanog with its famous tumuli that bear evidence of Nubian upper hand in terms of social anthropology. The southernmost counterpart of Karanog culture can be found in Tangassi (nearby Karima, which represented the â€˜Northâ€™ for what was the center of earlier Meroitic power gravitation)
In addition, in terms of culture, X-Group heralds a total break with the Meroitic tradition, with the Nubians and the Blemmyes/Beja outnumbering the Meroitic remnants and imposing a completely different cultural and socio-anthropological milieu out of which would later emanate the first and single Nubian state in the World History: Nobatia.
Much confusion characterized modern scholars when referring to Kush or Meroe by using the modern term 'Nubia'. By now it is clear that the Nubians lived since times immemorial in both Egypt and the Sudan, being part of the history of these two lands. But Nubians are a Nilo-Saharan ethnic / linguistic group different from the Khammitic Kushites / Meroites. At the times of X-Group and during the long centuries of Christian Sudan, we have the opportunity to attest the differences and divergence between the Nubians and the Meroitic remnants. The epicenter of Nubian center, the area between the first (Aswan) and the third (Kerma) cataracts, rose to independence and prominence first, with capital at Faras, nearby the present day Sudanese â€“ Egyptian border, around 450 CE. Nobatia institutionalized Coptic as religious (Christian) and administrative language, and Nubian language remained an oral only vehicle of communication. The Nobatian control in the south of the third cataract was vague, nominal and precarious. Nobatia was linked with the Coptic â€“ Monophysitic Patriarchate of Alexandria.
The Meroitic remnants underscored their difference from the Nubians / Nobatians, and the depopulated central part of the defunct state of Meroe rose to independence in the first decades of the sixth century. Its name, Makkuria, is in this regard a linguistic resemblance of the name 'Meroe' but we know nothing more. The Meroitic remnants inhabited the northern circumference of Makkuria more densely, and the gravitation center turned around Old Dongola (580 km in the south of Wadi Halfa), capital of this Christian Orthodox state that extended from Kerma to Shendi (the area of the sixth cataract), so for more than 1000 km alongside the Nile. But beyond the area of Karima (750 km in the south of Wadi Halfa) and the nearby famous Al Ghazali monastery we have very scarce evidence of Christian antiquities. The old African metropolis Meroe remained at the periphery of Makkuria, Alodia and Axumite Abyssinia.
Makkurians highlighted their ideological â€“ religious divergence from the Nubians, by adopting Greek as religious language. They even introduced a new scripture for their Makkurian language that seems to be a later phase of Meroitic. Makkurian was written in alphabetic Greek signs, and the Makkurians preferred to attach themselves to Christian Orthodoxy, and more particularly to the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria.
Alodia has long been called the 'third Christian state' in Sudan, but recent discoveries in Soba, its capital (15 km at the east of Khartoum), suggest that Alodia rose first to independence (around 500 CE) and later adhered to Christianity (around 580 â€“ 600 CE) following evangelization efforts deployed by missionary Nobatian priests (possibly in a sort of anti-Makkurian religious diplomacy). We know nothing of an Alodian scripture so far.
The later phases of the Christian history of Sudan encompass the Nobatian â€“ Makkurian merge (around 1000 CE), the islamization of Makkuria in 1317, and finally the late collapse of Christian Alodia in 1505. The question remains unanswered until today:
What happened to the bulk of the Meroitic population, i.e. the inhabitants of the Insula Meroe, the present day Butana? What occurred to the Meroites living between the fourth and the sixth cataracts after the presumably brief raid of Ezana of Axum, and the subsequent destruction of Meroe, Mussawarat es Sufra, Naqah, Wad ben Naqah and Basa?
3. Reconstruction of the Post-Meroitic History of the Kushitic Oromo Nation
Certainly, the motives of Ezana's raid have not yet been properly studied and assessed by modern scholarship. The reasons for the raid may vary from a simple nationalistic usurpation of the name of 'Ethiopia' (Kush), which would give Christian eschatological legitimacy to the Axumite Abyssinian kingdom, to the needs of international politics (at the end of 4th century) and the eventuality of an Iranian â€“ Meroitic alliance at the times of Shapur II (310 â€“ 379), aimed at outweighing the Roman â€“ Abyssinian bond. Yet, this alliance could have been the later phase of a time honored Meroitic diplomatic tradition (diffusion of Mithraism as attested on the Jebel Qeili reliefs of Shorakaror). What we can be sure of are the absence of a large-scale massacre, and the characteristic scarcity of population in the central Meroitic provinces during the period that follows Ezanaâ€™s raid and the destruction of Meroe.
The only plausible explanation is that the scarcity of population in Meroe mainland after Meroe's destruction was due to the fact that the Meroites in their outright majority (at least for the inhabitants of Meroe's southern provinces) fled and migrated to areas where they would stay independent from the Semitic Christian kingdom of Axumite Abyssinia. This explanation may sound quite fresh in approach, but it actually is not, since it constitutes the best utilization of the already existing historical data.
From archeological evidence, it becomes clear that during X-Group phase and throughout the Makkurian period the former heartland of Meroe remained mostly uninhabited. The end of Meroe is definitely abrupt, and it is obvious that Meroe's driving force had gone elsewhere. The correct question would be where to?
There is no evidence of Meroites sailing the Nile downwards to the area of the 4th (Karima) and the 3rd (Kerma) cataracts, which was earlier the northern circumference of Meroe and remained untouched by Ezana. There is no textual evidence in Greek, Latin and/or Coptic to testify to such a migratory movement or to hint at an even more incredible direction, i.e. Christian Roman Egypt. If we add to this the impossibility of marching to the heartland of the invading Axumites (an act that would mean a new war), we reduce the options to relatively few.
The migrating Meroites could go either to the vast areas of the Eastern and the Western deserts or enter the African jungle or ultimately search a possibly free land that, being arable and good for pasture, would keep them far from the sphere of the Christian Axumites. It would be very erroneous to expect settled people to move to the desert. Such an eventuality would be a unique oxymoron in the history of the mankind. Nomadic peoples move from the steppes, the savannas and the deserts to fertile lands, and they settle there, or cross long distances through steppes and deserts. However, settled people, if under pressure, move to other fertile lands that offer them the possibility of cultivation and pasture. When dispersed by the invading Sea Peoples, the Hittites moved from Anatolia to Northwestern Mesopotamia; they did not cross and stay in the small part of Anatolia that is desert. The few scholars who think that Meroitic continuity could be found among the present day Beja and Hadendawa are oblivious to the aforementioned reality of the world history that was never contravened. In addition, the Blemmyes were never friendly to the Meroites. Every now and then, they had attacked parts of the Nile valley and the Meroites had had to repulse them thence. It would rather be inconceivable for the Meroitic population, after seeing Meroe sacked by Ezana, to move to a land where life would be difficult and enemies would wait them!
Modern technologies help historians and archeologists reconstruct better the ancient world; paleo-botanists, geologists, geo-chemists, paleoentomologists, and other specialized natural scientists are of great help in this regard. It is essential to stress here that the entire environmental milieu of Sudan was very different during the times of the Late Antiquity we examine in our approach. Butana may look like a wasteland nowadays, and the Pyramids of Bagrawiyah may be sunk in the sand, whereas Mussawarat es Sufra and Naqah demand a real effort in crossing the desert. But in the first centuries of Christian era, the entire landscape was dramatically different.
The Butana was not a desert but a fertile cultivated land; we have actually found remains of reservoirs, aqueducts, various hydraulic installations, irrigation systems and canals in Meroe and elsewhere. Not far from Mussawarat es Sufra there must have been an enclosure where captive elephants were trained before being transported to Ptolemais Theron (present day Suakin, 50 km in the south of Port Sudan) and then further on to Alexandria. Desert was in the vicinity, certainly, but not that close.
We should not imagine that Ezana crossed desert areas, moving from the whereabouts (vicinities?) of Agordat, Tesseney and Kessala to Atbarah and Bagrawiyah, as we would do today. And we should not imagine the lands in the south of present day Khartoum, alongside the White Nile, were easy to cross in the antiquity. In ancient times, impenetrable jungle started immediately in the south of Khartoum, and cities like Kosti and Jabalayn lie today on deforested soil. At the southernmost confines of the Meroitic state, pasturelands and arable land could be found alongside the Blue Nile Valley.
Since jungle signified death in the antiquity, and even armies feared to stay overnight in a forest or even more so in the thick African forest, we have good reason to believe that, following the Ezana's raid, the Meroites, rejecting the perspective of forced christening, migrated southwestwards up to Khartoum. From there, they proceeded southeastwards alongside the Blue Nile in a direction that would keep them safe and far from the Axumite Abyssinians whose state did not expand as far in the south as Gondar and Tana lake. Proceeding in this way and crossing successively areas of modern cities, such as Wad Madani, Sennar, Damazin, and Asosa, and from there on, they expanded in later times over the various parts of Biyya Oromo.
We do not imply that the migration was completed in the span of one lifetime; quite contrarily, we have reasons to believe that the establishment of Alodia (or Alwa) is due to the progressive waves of Meroitic migrants who settled first in the area of Khartoum that was out of the westernmost confines of the Meroitic state. Only when Christianization became a matter of concern for the evangelizing Nobatians, and the two Christian Sudanese states were already strong, the chances of preserving the pre-Christian Meroitic cultural heritage in the area around Soba (capital of Alodia) were truly poor; then another wave of migrations took place, with early Alodian Meroites proceeding as far in the south as Damazin and Asosa, areas that remained always beyond the southern border of Alodia (presumably around Sennar). Like this, the second migratory Meroitic (Makkurian) wave may have entered around 600 CE in the area where the Oromos, descendents of the migrated Meroites, still live today.
A great number of changes at the cultural “behavioral levels are to be expected, when a settled people migrates to faraway lands. The Phoenicians had kings in Tyre, Byblos and their other cities“ states, but introduced a democratic system when they sailed faraway and colonized various parts of the Mediterranean. The collapse of the Meroitic royalty was a shock for the Nile valley; the Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makkuria and Alodia were ruled by kings whose power was to great extent counterbalanced by that of the Christian clergy. With the Meroitic royal family decimated by Ezana, it is quite possible that high priests of Apedemak and Amani (Amun) took much of the administrative responsibility in their hands, inciting people to migrate and establishing a form of collective and representative authority among the Meroitic Elders. They may even have preserved the royal title of Qore within completely different socio-anthropological context.
4. Call for Comparative Meroitic-Oromo Studies
How can this approach, interpretation, and conclusion be corroborated up to the point of becoming a generally accepted historical reconstitution at the academic level? On what axes should one group of researchers work to collect detailed documentation in support of the Meroitic ancestry of the Oromos?
Quite strangely, I would not give priority to the linguistic approach. The continuity of a language can prove many things and can prove nothing. The Bulgarians are of Uralo-Altaic Turco-Mongolian origin, but, after they settled in Eastern Balkans, they were linguistically slavicized. Most of the Greeks are Albanians, Slavs, and Vlachians, who were hellenized linguistically. Most of the Turks in Turkey are Greeks and Anatolians, who were turkicized linguistically. A people can preserve its own language in various degrees and forms. For the case of languages preserved throughout millennia, we notice tremendous changes and differences. If you had picked up Plato and 'transferred' him at the times of Linear B (that was written in Mycenae 800 years before the Greek philosopher lived), you should be sure that Plato would not have understood the language of his ancestors with the exception of some words. Egyptian hieroglyphics was a scripture that favored archaism and linguistic puritanism. But we can be sure that for later Pharaohs, like Taharqa the Kushite (the most illustrious ruler of the 'Ethiopian' dynasty), Psamtik, Nechao, Ptolemy II and Cleopatra VII, a Pyramid text (that antedated them by 1700 to 2300 years) would almost be incomprehensible.
A. National diachronic continuity is better attested and more markedly noticed in terms of Culture, Religion and Philosophical â€“ Behavioral system. The first circle of comparative research would encompass the world of the Kushitic â€“ Meroitic and Oromo concepts, anything that relates to the Weltanschauung of the two cultural units/groups under study. A common view of basic themes of life and a common perception of the world would bring a significant corroboration of the Meroitic ancestry of the Oromos. So, first it is a matter of history of religions, African philosophy, social anthropology, ethnography and culture history.
B. Archeological research can help tremendously too. At this point one has to stress the reality that the critical area for the reconstruction suggested has been totally indifferent for Egyptologists, Meroitic and Axumite archeologists so far. The Blue Nile valley in Sudan and Abyssinia was never the subject of an archeological survey, and the same concerns the Oromo highlands. Certainly modern archeologists prefer something concrete that would lead them to a great discovery, being therefore very different from the pioneering nineteenth century archeologists. An archeological study would be necessary in the Blue Nile valley and the Oromo highlands in the years to come.
C. A linguistic - epigraphic approach may bring forth even more spectacular results. It could eventually end up with a complete decipherment of the Meroitic and the Makkurian. An effort must be made to read the Meroitic texts, hieroglyphic and cursive, with the help of Oromo language. Meroitic personal names and toponymics must be studied in the light of a potential Oromo interpretation. Comparative linguistics may unveil affinities that will lead to reconsideration of the work done so far in the Meroitic decipherment.
D. Last but not least, another dimension would be added to the project with the initiation of comparative anthropological studies. Data extracted from findings in the Meroitic cemeteries must be compared with data provided by the anthropological study of present day Oromos. The research must encompass pictorial documentation from the various Meroitic temples' bas-reliefs.
To all these I would add a better reassessment of the existing historical sources, but this is not a critical dimension of this research project.
I believe my call for Comparative Meroitic â€“ Oromo Studies reached the correct audience that can truly evaluate the significance of the ultimate corroboration of the Meroitic Ancestry of the Oromos, as well as the magnificent consequences such corroboration would have in view of
a) the forthcoming Kushitic Palingenesia â€“ Renaissance if you want â€“ in Africa,
b) the establishment of a Post â€“ Colonial African Historiography, and â€“ last but not least â€“
c) the Question of the Most Genuine and Authoritative Representation of Africa in the United Nations Security Council.
1. To those having the slightest doubt, trying purely for political reasons and speculation to include territories of the modern state of Abyssinia into what they Ancient Greeks and Romans called â€œAethiopiaâ€?, the entry Aethiopia in Pauly-Wissowa, Realenzyklopadie der klassischen Altertumwissenschaft consists in the best and irrevocable answer.
parts of the Denkmaeler are already available online:
... start.html. Also:
... 1884_.html. The fact that the furthermost point of â€˜Ethiopiaâ€™ he reached was Khartoum is of course quite telling.
he wrote among the rest a book on his Meroe excavationsâ€™ results, The Egyptian Sudan: its History and Monuments (London, 1907).
4. Mythical figure of the British Orientalism, Garstang excavated in England, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and the Sudan; Albright, William Foxwell: "John Garstang in Memoriam", Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 144. (Dec., 1956), pp. 7â€“8. Garstangâ€™s major articles on his Meroe excavations are the following: 'Preliminary Note on an Expedition to MeroÃ« in Ethiopia', Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 3 (1911 â€“ a), 'Second Interim Report on the Excavations at MeroÃ« in Ethiopia, I. Excavations', Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 4 (1911 â€“ b), 'Third Interim Report on the Excavations at MeroÃ« in Ethiopia', Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 5 (1912), 'Forth Interim Report on the Excavations at MeroÃ« in Ethiopia', Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 6 (1913), and 'Fifth Interim Report on the Excavations at MeroÃ« in Ethiopia', Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 7 (1914). His major contribution was published in the same year under the title â€˜MeroÃ«, the City of Ethiopiansâ€™ (Oxford). A leading Meroitologist, Laszlo Torok wrote an entire volume on Garstangâ€™s excavations at Meroe: Meroe City, an Ancient African Capital: John Garstang's Excavations in the Sudan.
5. Griffith was the epigraphist of Grastand and had already published the epigraphic evidence unearthed at Meroe in the chapter entitled 'the Inscriptions from MeroÃ«' in Garstangâ€™s â€˜MeroÃ«, the City of Ethiopiansâ€™. After many pioneering researches and excavations in various parts of Egypt and Northern Sudan, Faras, Karanog, Napata and Philae to name a few, he concentrated on Kerma: 'Excavations at Kawa', Sudan Notes and Records 14.
among other contributions: Die Inschriften des LÃ¶wentempels von Musawwarat es Sufra, Berlin (1962); Vorbericht Ã¼ber die Ausgrabungen des Instituts fÃ¼r Ã„gyptologie der Humboldt-UniversitÃ¤t zu Berlin in Musawwarat es Sufra, 1960-1961 (1962); 'Musawwarat es Sufra. Preliminary Report on the Excavations of the Institute of Egyptology, Humboldt University, Berlin, 1961-1962(Third Season)', Kush 11 (1963); 'Preliminary Note on the Epigraphic Expedition to Sudanese Nubia, 1962', Kush 11 (1963); 'Preliminary note on the Epigraphic Expedition to Sudanese Nubia, 1963', Kush 13 (1965).
7. As regards my French professorâ€™s publications focused on his excavations at Sudan: Soleb and Sedeinga in Lexikon der Ã„gyptologie 5, Wiesbaden 1984 (entries contributed by J. Leclant himself); also J. Leclant, Les reconnaissances archÃ©ologiques au Soudan, in: Ã‰tudes nubiennes I, 57-60.
8. His recent volume Sudan: Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile, Paris/New York (1997) contains earlier bibliography.
9. Some of his most authoritative publications: â€˜A History of the Sudan from the Earliest Times to 1821â€™, 1961 (2nd Ed.), London; â€˜'The Valley of the Nileâ€™, in: The Dawn of African History, R. Oliver (ed.), London. Arkell is mostly renowned for his monumental â€˜The Royal Cemeteries of Kushâ€™ in many volumes.
10. Presentation of his â€˜Ancient Nubiaâ€™ in:
... cts_id=33; for a non exhaustive list of Shinnieâ€™s publications:
... ia2.htm#S; see also a presentation of a volume on Meroe, edited by Shinnie et alii:
11. Many of his publications are listed here:
... ia2.htm#S; also here:
... ypt4.htm#T. In the Eighth International Conference for Meroitic Studies, Torok spoke about â€˜The End of Meroeâ€™; the speech will be included in the arkamani online project, here:
12. Useful reading:
... souda.htm; also:
see also the entry â€˜Kushâ€™ in Lexikon der Aegyptologie and the Encyclopedia Judaica. More specifically bout the Egyptian Hieroglyphic and the Hebrew writings of the name of Kush:
. For more recent bibliography:
13. Basic bibliography in:
More particularly on Qustul, and the local Group A Cemetery that was discovered in the 60s by Dr. Keith Seele:
(by Bruce Beyer Williams). Quite interesting approach by Clyde Winters as regards an eventual use of Egyptian Hieroglyphics in Group A Nubia, 200 years before the system was introduced inâ€¦ Egypt:
14. Brief info:
more recently several scholars consider Group B as an extension of Group A (GRATIEN, Brigitte, La Basse Nubie Ã lâ€™Ancien Empire: Ã‰gyptiens et autochtones, JEA 81 (1995), 43-56).
... %20Snefrue),%201st%20King%20of%20Egypt's%204th%20Dynasty.htm (with bibliography);
for the Palermo stone inscription where we have the Nubia expedition narrative:
(click on the Palermo Stone);
(with related bibliography).
(with designs and pictures);
(with focus on Group C burials and burial architecture). See also:
17. References in the Lexikon der Aegyptologie. See also:
one of the related sources: The Story of an Egyptian Politician, published by T. G. Allen, in: American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Oct., 1921), pp. 55-62; Texts relating to Egyptian expeditions in Yam and Irtet:
more in â€˜Ancient Nubia: Egypt's Rival in Africaâ€™(Paperback) by David Oâ€™ Connor,
18. Brief description:
... htm#French (with several interesting links);
(brief but with recent bibliography containing some of Bonnetâ€™s publications).
19. Vivian Davies, â€˜La frontiÃ¨re mÃ©ridionale de l'Empire : Les Egyptiens Ã Kurgus,â€™ Bulletin de la SociÃ©tÃ© franÃ§aise d'Ã©gyptologie, 2003, no157, pp. 23-37 (
); about the ongoing British excavations:
about the inscription of Thutmosis I:
20. In brief and with images:
(with selected recent bibliography) and
... kage=26155 (for art visualization). The period is also called Napatan, out of the Kushitic state capitalâ€™s name:
21. To start with:
... apata.html (including references); most authoritative presentation by Timothy Kendall â€˜Gebel Barkal and Ancient Napataâ€™ in:
... nubia.htm; also: â€˜the Rise of the Kushitic kingdomâ€™ by Brian Yare, in:
... Napata.htm. For Karima, notice the interesting itinerary:
... /sudan.htm, and
22. Introductory reading:
(click on Manetho);
(with selected bibliography). Among the aforementioned, the entries Manethon (Realenzyklopaedie) and Manetho (Lexikon der Aegyptologie) are essential.
23. For the Ethiopian dynasty, all the related entries in the Lexikon and the Realenzyklopaedie (Piankhi, Shabaka, Shabataka, Taharqa, Tanutamon) are the basic bibliography; see also:
the last edition (1996) of Kenneth Kitchenâ€™s â€˜The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100â€“650 BC)â€™, Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd, remains the best reassessment of the period and the related sources. Introductory information:
critical bibliography for understanding the perplex period is J. Leclant lectureship thesis (these dâ€™ Etat) â€˜Montouemhat, Quatrieme Prophete D'Amon, (1961)
the edition of the Assyrian emperorâ€™s annals by R. Borger (Die Inschriften Assarhaddons, KÃ¶nigs von Assyrien, AfO 9, Graz, 1956) remain our basic reference to formal sources. More recently, F. Reynolds shed light on private sources, publishing â€˜The Babylonian correspondence of Esarhaddon, and letters to Assurbanipal and Sin-Sarru-Iskun from Northern and Central Babyloniaâ€™ (SAA 18, 2004).
25. For the Greater Emperor of the Oriental Antiquity:
until today we have to rely mostly on the voluminous edition of Assurbanipalâ€™s Annals by Maximilian Streck (Assurbanipal und die letzten assyrischen. KÃ¶nige bis zum Untergang Niniveh, Leipzig,1916); see also M. W. Watersâ€™ Teâ€™umman in the neo-Assyrian correspondence (Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1999, vol. 119, no3, pp. 473-477)
26. Heliopolis (Iwnw in Egyptian Hieroglyphic â€“ literally the place of the pillars â€“, On in Hebrew and in Septuaginta Greek) was the center of Egyptian monotheism, the holiest religious center throughout Ancient Egypt; it is from Heliopolis that emanated the Isiac ideology and the Atum Ennead. Basic readings: the entry Heliopolis in Realenzyklopaedie and in Lexikon der Aegyptologie; more recently:
27. Basic readings:
(with pictorial documentation). See also:
28. Hakhamaneshian is the first Persian dynasty; it got momentum whenCyrus II invaded successively Media and Babylon. Readings:
(with selected bibliography); the 2nd volume of the Cambridge History of Iran is dedicated to Achaemenid history (contents:
(with bibliographya nd sources). Cambyses invaded Kush and destroyed Napata at the times of Amani-natake-lebte, and his embattled army was decimated according to the famous narratives of Herodotus that still need to be corroborated. What seems more plausible is that, having reached in an unfriendly milieu of the Saharan desert where they had no earlier experience, the Persians soldiers, at a distance of no less than 4000 km from their capital, faced guerilla undertaken by the Kushitic army remnants and their nomadic allies.
30. Nastasen was the last to be buried in Nuri, in the whereabouts of Napata. Contemporary with Alexander the Great, Nastasen fought against an invader originating from Egypt whose name was recorded as Kambasawden. This led many to confuse the invader with Cambyses, who ruled 200 years earlier (!). The small inscription on the Letti stela does not allow great speculation; was it an attempt of Alexander the Great to proceed to the south of which we never heard anything? Impossible to conclude. For photographical documentation:
... 00017&ord=. Another interpretation:
31. Arkamaniqo was the first to have his pyramid built at Meroe, not at Napata. See:
, He inaugurated the architectural works at Dakka, the famous ancient Egyptian Pa Serqet, known in Greek literature as Pselkhis (
), in veneration of God Thot, an endeavour that brought the Ptolemies and the Meroites in alliance.
32. For Abyssiniaâ€™s conversion to Christianity:
. The Wikipedia entry (
) is written by ignorant and chauvinist people, and is full of mistakes, ascribing provocatively and irrelevantly to Ezanas following territories (using modern names): â€œpresent-day Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, Yemen, southern Saudi Arabia, northern Somalia, Djibouti, northern Sudan, and southern Egyptâ€?. All this shows how misleading this encyclopedia can be. Neither southern Egypt, northern Sudan, northern Somalia and Djibouti nor Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia ever belonged to Ezanaâ€™s small kingdom that extended from Adulis to Axum, and following the kingâ€™s victory over Meroe, it included modern Sudanâ€™s territories between Kessala and Atbara. Nothing more!
33. Richard A. Lobban, â€˜The Nubian Dynasty of Kush and Egypt: Continuing Research on Dynasty XXVâ€™:
... clnk&cd=2; these inscriptions were published as early as 1821: E. F. Gau, Nubische Denkmaeler (Stuttgart). Other early publications on Meroitic antiquities: E. Riippell, Reisen in Nubien, Kordofan, &c. (Frankfort a. M., 1829); F. Caillaud, Voyage a Me'roe (Paris, 1826); J. L. Burckhardt, Travels in Nubia, e5fc. (London, 1819); G. Waddington and B. Hanbury, Journal of a Visit to some 'parts of Ethiopia (London, 1822); L. Reinisch, Die Nuba-Sprache (Vienna, 1879); Memoirs of the Societe khediviale de Geographic, Cairo.
... graphy.htm. The only inscription giving her name comes from Temple F in Naga (REM 0039A-B). The name appears in Meroitic hieroglyphics in the middle of an Egyptian text. See also: Laszlo TÃ¶rÃ¶k, in: Fontes Historiae Nubiorum, Vol. II, Bergen 1996, 660-662. The first attempts to render full Meroitic phrases into hieroglyphs (not only personal names, as it was common earlier) can be dated from the turn of the 3rd / 2nd century BCE, but they reflect the earlier stage of the development.
35. C. Rilly, â€˜Les graffiti archaÃ¯ques de Doukki Gel et l'apparition de l'Ã©criture mÃ©roÃ¯tiqueâ€™. Meroitic Newsletter, 2003, No 30 : 41-55, pl. IX-XIII (fig. 41-48).
36. Michael H. Zach, â€˜Aksum and the end of Meroeâ€™, in:
... s/Zach.htm. See also:
... rowan2.pdf. Also: Clyde A. Winters, â€˜Meroitic evidence for a Blemmy empire in the Dodekaschoinsâ€™ in:
... labsha.htm. Kharamadoye was a Blemmyan / Beja king who lived around the year 330 CE, and his inscription was curved on the Nubian/Blemmyan temple at Kalabsha (ancient Talmis) in the south of Aswan; more: M. S. Megalommatis, â€˜Sudan's Beja / Blemmyes, and their Right to Freedom and Statehoodâ€™, in:
, and in:
. More general:
37. For Ballana:
... ndex.html; for the excavations carried out there: Farid Shafiq, â€˜Excavations at Ballana, 1958-1959â€™, Cairo, 1963:
38. His publications encompass the following:
â€˜Karanog: the Meroitic Inscriptions of Karanog and Shablulâ€™, (The Eckley B. Coxe Junior Expedition to Nubia VI), Philadelphia, 1911; â€˜Meroitic Inscriptions, I, SÃ´bÃ¢ DangÃ»lâ€™, Oxford, 1911; â€˜Meroitic Inscriptions part II, Napata to Philae and Miscellaneousâ€™, Egypt Exploration Society, Archaeological Survey of Egypt, Memoirs, London, 1912; 'Meroitic Studies II', in: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 3 (1916).
list of sources concerning Ergamenes II: Laszlo TÃ¶rÃ¶k, â€™Fontes Historiae Nubiorumâ€™, vol. II, Bergen 1996, S. 566-567; further:
an insightful view: Laszlo Torok, â€˜Amasis and Ergamenesâ€™, in: The Intellectual Heritage of Egypt. Studies KÃ¡kosy, 555-561. An English translation of Diodorusâ€™ text on Ergamenes (III. 6) is here:
40. B. G. Haycock, 'The Problem of the Meroitic Language', Occasional Papers in Linguistics and Language Learning, no.5 (1978), p. 50-81; see also:
... nology.htm. Another significant contribution by B.G.Haycock, â€˜Towards a Data for King Ergamenesâ€™, Kush 13 (1965).41. See: K.H.Priese, â€˜Die Statue des napatanischen KÃ¶nigs Aramatelqo (Amtelqa) Berlin, Ã„gyptisches Museum Inv.-Nr. 2249â€™ in: Festschrift zum 150 jÃ¤hrigen Bestehen des Berliner Ã„gyptischen Museums, Berlin; of the same author, â€™Matrilineare Erbfolge im Reich von Napataâ€™, Zeitschrift fÃ¼r Ã¤gyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, 108 (1981).
43. Basic reading: Egeimi, Omer Abdalla, â€˜From Adaptation to Marginalization: The Political Ecology of Subsistence Crisis among the Hadendawa Pastoralists of Sudanâ€™, in: Managing Scarcity: Human Adaptation in East African Drylands, edited by Abdel Ghaffar M. Ahmed and Hassan Abdel Ati, 30-49. Proceedings of a regional workshop, Addis Ababa, 24-26 August 1995. Addis Ababa: OSSREA, 1996 (
44. F. Hintze, â€˜Some problems of Meroitic philology", in: Studies in
Ancient Languages of the Sudan, pp. 73-78; see discussions:
45. In various publications; see indicatively: â€˜Die meroitische Sprache und das protoaltaische Sprachsubstrat als Medium zu ihrer Deutung (I): Mit _quivalenten von grammatikalischen Partikeln und Wortgleichungenâ€™, Ulm/Donau (1992).
... ersc2.html (with extensive list of publications).
(with further bibliography);
(with pictorial documentation)
authoritative presentation in Cambridge History of Iran.