Evidences on Meroitic Court

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Gilda Ferrandino



Although the documentation about the Meroitic court is limited the most recent archaeological discoveries and the improvement in the translation of the Meroitic language can help to define a general view of the court. The court of the kingdom of Meroe, in Nubia between the 3rd BC and 5th AD, was likely organised around the royal family. The cemeteries, especially in the south of the kingdom, suggest that there was not a clear difference between royal family members and other court members. Most probably, the others were simply lesser members of royalty. Many Meroitic funerary inscriptions presenting the biography of the deceased in the form of cursus honorum include a final formula that might define a direct relationship between the king and the deceased.

The archaeological evidence highlights numerous centres of power in the country. A large number of palaces were discovered in urban sites and religious centres, most of them dated to the same period. The Napatan royal inscriptions (8th BC to 3rd BC) of the kings who governed Nubia before the Meroitic dynasty, describe multiple enthronements of the king characterised by coronation journeys in all the kingdom’s main religious centres. The repetition of the royal investiture may be explained as a formulation of originally independent polities. This practice may have continued in the Meroitic period, suggesting the existence of more than one local elite family. A reference to different clans has been found in the most ancient Meroitic royal text (REM 1044).


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