In the words of the French archaeologist Vincent Rondot, the leader of the project:
It is one of the last antique languages that we still don't understand. We can read it. We have no problem pronouncing the letters. But we can't understand it, apart from a few long words and the names of people... It is absolutely essential to understand it... We only need to read the last words remaining on the inscription
In the first century BC, however, they gradually changed their writing style from hieroglyphs to the Meroitic script, which was adapted to the indigenous Nubian language. The Meroitic kingdom gradually declined in the fourth century as the Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum in the East expanded; by AD350, King Ezana of Axum had captured and destroyed Meroe city.
The project is described on this website, from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The History Today archive has featured Sudanese history in its latter stages, most notably in articles on the 1888 Fashoda Incident, and covering the British General and Victorian hero Gordon's raid on Khartoum.