Kandake Amanishakheto: Queen & Ruler of the Kingdom of Kush

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

She’s remembered as a great queen of Nubia and is known as a great warrior and pyramid builder; and credited with building many pyramids, particularly at the Wad ban Naqa site that served as the seat of the Kushite/Nubian Kingdom.

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

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

In 1834 A.D., Giuseppe Ferlini looted her pyramid and was responsible for the destruction of over 40 pyramids. The looted treasures from her tomb show that she was a powerful queen who ruled independently.

A collection of royal stamps in twelve groups was found, made of pure gold 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. Pictures of lions, sheep, beetles and birds can also be seen. Finally, three small golden bells used for calling attendants are also found in the collection. The presence of this varied number of the stamps may signify the progress of old Nubian kingdoms and how progressive Queen Amanishakheto was in running the affairs of her kingdom, as every stamp may refer to a certain administration or royal order.

In Meroitic hieroglyphs her name is also written as Amanishaket, or Amanikasheto or Mniskhte in Meroitic.

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.

Kandake Amanishakheto may have been Kandake Amanirenas’ sister or daughter. Born between 60 and 50 B.C., Amanirenas was the second of the eight kandakes of the Kingdom of Kush.

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


Like this post? Stop by and read Kandake Amanirenas: Leading the Kushites Against the Romans." Queen Amanirenas 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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