Language Frieze


Nubian script




Back to symbols


Back to top

African Heritage Classroom


Written Languages



The Chalkboard Wall Frieze

The frieze above the chalkboard pays tribute to written African languages. Examples of these appear on the frieze above the front Chalkboard. From left to right, these are:


Hieroglyphics:  Hieroglyphics record a line of verse from Egyptian Pharoah Akhenaten's (r. 1370-1353 B.C.) "Great Hymn to the Aten (Sun):  “Thy rising is beautiful in the horizon of heaven, O living Aten, beginning of life.”


Meroitic:  Rare Meroitic words record the names of Nubian rulers Natakamani and Amentari, and the three-headed lion-god Apedemak (1st century B.C.)


Ge’ez:  A quotation from the Queen of Sheba (10th century B.C.) in the ancient Ethiopian language of Ge'ez as recorded in the Kebra Nagast (14th century AD.): "For I desire wisdom...”


Arabic:  An Arabic quotation from the first verse of the Koran. "In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate...”


Swahili:  Swahili is used to record a 17thcentury poem's opening words: "This world is a raging sea...”


Nsibidi:  Nsibidi, an ancient pictographic language of Nigeria, still in use, reports a difficult legal case.


Vai:  The Vai language, developed in Sierra Leone, quotes the first verse of the Koran.