Queen Amanishakheto & Kandake Amani: The Same One Eyed Queen?

Details about the life of Kandake Amanishakheto have fallen into obscurity. She was one of the queens making up the kandakes of Meroë, and is believed to have reigned from 10 BC to 1 AD. Her name was found in a manuscript in which she was named “The Queen and The Ruler.”

Amanishakheto is remembered as a great queen of Kush, a great warrior,  pyramid builder; and credited with building many pyramids, particularly at the Wad ban Naqa site that served as the seat of the Kushite Kingdom.

One of the major achievements attributed to her reign was fighting off the invading Roman forces who were sent by Emperor Augustus Caesar to conquer her kingdom. The victory forced the invading Roman army to sign a fair peace deal.

Could Kandake Amanishakheto have been the same person as Kandake Amani (Amanirenas), born between 60 and 50 B.C? She was the second of the eight kandakes of the Kingdom of Kush.

Both are said to have fought back the Romans at the kingdom’s northern border who had advanced from Egypt. One of the main pieces of evidence for the Meroitic raids against the Romans is a bronze head of Augustus Caesar found buried beneath the steps of a temple dedicated to victory at Meroë.

Geographical Sketches by Greek historian Strabo describes Kandake Amani as a “masculine woman with one eye destroyed.” Kandake Amanishaketo is said to have been blind in one eye.

Her remaining hieroglyphs state that her name is Amanishaket, or Amanikasheto or Mniskhte in Mëroitic.

Historians say Amanishakheto practiced a religion that was very similar to her Egyptians neighbors with the worship of the gods Amun and Anubis. She is mentioned in the Amun-temple of Kawa, on a stela from Meroë, in inscriptions of a palace building found at Wad Bannaqa, from a stela found at Qasr Ibrim, and another stela from Naqa.

The looted treasures from her tomb portray her as a powerful queen who ruled independently.

A collection of royal stamps in twelve groups, made of pure gold have been found and carry carvings of the god Amun and other gods all in different positions, either presenting a crown, sitting on the throne, or defeating the Romans. The presence of this varied number of the stamps may signify the progress of the Kushite kingdom and how progressive the queen was in running the affairs of her kingdom, as every stamp may refer to a certain administration or royal order.

The ancient kingdom of Kush flourished between c. 1069 B.C. and 350 A.D. It was known for its wealth, advanced culture, and military strength, often challenging the influence of its northern neighbor, ancient Egypt.

The title Kandake means “Queen Mother” or “Queen Regent” and could also mean “Royal Woman.”


Like this post? Stop by and read Kandake Amani: Leading the Kushites Against the Romans." Queen Amani remains one of the most famous Meroitic queens because of her role in leading the Kushite army against the Romans in a war that lasted three years. This war is largely responsible for halting Rome’s southward expansion in Africa.

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