Unlike other ancient civilizations, Nubia was known for letting Queens have power, and one of the most well known of these women was Queen Amanirenas.
Queen Amanirenas was a qore. A Nubian word for an independent ruling queen. Before evidence said otherwise the word kandake (also sometimes replaced with Candace) used to fill that term, but recently it came to light that a kandake was any woman in royalty such as a Queen’s consort, mother, sister, or other family relatives. Not all kandakes are qores, but all qores are kandakes. 1
Queen Amanirenas was both the consort and successor of King Teriteqas. After his death, she ascended to the throne with the accompaniment of their son Prince Akinidad. 2
In the Meroitic-Roman War in 29-21/20 B.C.E, Queen Amanirenas and her son both fought to sustain Nubian Independence from Europe. 3 She led her armies into battle, and was renowned for her bravery and ferocity. The armies of Nubia during this time was especially known for their archery units that took Roman empires by surprise. The history on archery is Nubia is a long tradition, which earned them the name “Ta-Sety” from the Egyptians, which is translated into, “The Land of the Bows.”
During her raids she defaced an important statue of Emperor Augustus Ceaser, breaking off the head and brining it back to Nubia as a prize. she then buried it under the stairs of a doorway to a temple, that way it would be under the feet of the many Nubians who entered it. This act was a huge act of disrespect to Rome, but hey– nobody claimed that she did not have a sense of humor. 4
It was also during the war that she lost one of her eyes. Instead of being discouraged however, this action only seemed to fuel her courage. The term “One-Eyed Candace” was given to her by Roman governor Gaius Petronius. 5 She is most likely the unnamed kandake in Strabo, the Greek geographer’s writings as well. 6
After a peace treaty was finally discussed and signed with Rome, Queen Amanirenas’ reign slowly drew to an end around 12 B.C.E, her successor Queen Amanishakheto helped establish a peaceful and lavish reign that helped Meroe prosper. Amanirenas’ son, Akinidad is often showed alongside Amanishakheto on murals, this is most likely a tactic to help establish her rule.
All in all, Amanirenas was a punk, warrior queen who wasn’t afraid to defiantly stand up to Rome and fight for what she believed in. (She’s a role-model to us all! 🙂 )
She also taught us that you don’t have to be Nick Fury to rock an eye patch:
Keep Calm and History On Folks!
- Fisher, M. & Higgins, C. “Ancient Nubia : African Kingdoms on the Nile.” (Cairo New York: The American University in Cairo Press, 2012), 180.
- pg. 182 ^
- pg. 39, 183 ^
- Mark, Joshua J. “The Meroe Head.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. (2012) https://www.ancient.eu/article/186/.
- Kneller, Tara. L. Neither Goddesses or Doormats. The Role of Women in Nubia. (1993) http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Role_Women.html
- Necia Desiree Harkless. “Nubian Pharaohs and Meroitic Kings: The Kingdom of Kush”( AuthorHouse, 2006), 146-147.
Main Photo: COSV [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons