Queen Amanirenas (also spelled Amanirena) was a queen of the Kingdom of Kush from c. 40 BC to c. 10 BC. Her full title was Amnirense qore li kdwe li ("Ameniras, qore and kandake").[1]

Queen Amanirenas
Queen of Kush
Stele hamadab.JPG
Meroitic Stela found at Hamadab
Reignc. 40–10 BCE
Bornc. 57 BCE
Diedc. 10 BCE
Jebel Barkal (Bar. 4?)
Ameniras, Qore and Kandake
DynastyMeroitic period

Queen Amanirenas is one of the most famous kandakes, because of her role leading Kushite armies against the Romans in a war that lasted three years, from 25 BC to 22 BC. After an initial victory when the Kushites attacked Roman Egypt, they were driven out of Egypt by Gaius Petronius, and the Romans established a new frontier at Hiere Sycaminos (Maharraqa).[2][3] Amanirenas was described as brave, and blind in one eye.

Meroitic, the indigenous language of the kingdom of Kush, remains undeciphered; however, inscriptions giving Queen Amanirenas the title of qore as well as kandake suggest that she was a ruling queen.[4] She is usually considered to be the queen referred to as "Candace" in Strabo's account of the Meroitic war against the Roman Empire. Her name is associated with those of Teriteqas and Akinidad, but the precise relationship between these three is not clear in the historical record.[5]

Roman conflictEdit

First battlesEdit

When Aelius Gallus, the Prefect, or chief magistrate, of Egypt, was absent on a campaign in Arabia in 25 BC, the Kushites launched an attack on Lower Nubia. Amanirenas and Akinidad defeated Roman forces at Syene and Philae.

Neil MacGregor refers to Strabo's account of a "fierce one-eyed queen Candace" capturing a series of Roman forts in southern 25 BC Egypt. Her army returned with a bronze depiction of Augustus' head, taken from a statue of the Roman emperor. She then "buried the severed head of Augustus beneath the steps of a temple dedicated to victory." The head, found in Meroë in 1912, now resides in the British Museum after a British archaeological team excavated it.[6][7]

Petronius' Nubian campaignEdit

The Kushites were driven out of Syene later in the year by Gaius Petronius, who now held the office of Roman Prefect in Egypt. According to a detailed report made by Strabo (17: 53–54), the Roman troops advanced far into Kush, and finally reached Napata. Although they withdrew again to the north they left behind a garrison in Qasr Ibrim (Primis), which now became the border of the Roman Empire. The Kushites made a renewed attempt to seize Primis but Petronius forestalled this attempt.[5]

Following this event, negotiations began.[2][3] The Meroites sent mediators to Augustus, who was then in Samos, and in the year 21/20 BC a peace treaty was concluded. It was strikingly favorable to the Meroites in that the southern part of the Thirty-Mile Strip, including Primis, was evacuated by the Romans, and the Meroites were exempted from having to pay tribute to the Emperor. On the other hand, the Romans continued to occupy the Dodekashoinos ("Twelve-Mile Lands") as a military border zone, so the frontier now lay near Hiere Sycaminos (Maharraqa) [8]

This arrangement continued until the end of the third century AD, with relations between Meroe and Roman Egypt remaining generally peaceful during this time (F. Hintze 1978:100). However, the kingdom of Kush had begun to fade as a power by the first or second century AD.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Török, László (1997). The Kingdom of Kush: Handbook of the Napatan-Meriotic Civilization. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-10448-8.
  2. ^ a b Jaques, Tony (2007). Dictionary of Battles and Sieges. Vol. F–O. Greenwood. pp. 713–. ISBN 978-0-313-33538-9.
  3. ^ a b Robinson, Arthur E. (1928). "The Arab Dynasty of Dar for (Darfur) Part II". African Affairs. XXVIII (CIX): 55–67. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a100377. ISSN 1468-2621.
  4. ^ "stela | British Museum". The British Museum. Retrieved 2022-09-21.
  5. ^ a b Desmond J. Clark; Roland Anthony Oliver; J. D. Fage; G. N . Sanderson; A. D . Roberts; Richard Gray; John Flint; Michael Crowder (1975). The Cambridge History of Africa. Cambridge University Press. pp. 242–250. ISBN 9780521207010.
  6. ^ MacGregor, Neil (2011). A History of the World in 100 Objects. New York: Viking. pp. 221–226. ISBN 9780670022700.
  7. ^ Shillington, Kevin (2012). History of Africa. London: Palgrave. p. 54. ISBN 9780230308473.
  8. ^ Naylor, P. C. (2021). 2. Rome and North Africa. In North Africa, Revised Edition (pp. 35-56). University of Texas Press.
  9. ^ "The Story of Africa : Nubia". BBC World Service. n.d. Retrieved 7 September 2018.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit