Great Warrior Queen and Builder of Nubia: Amanitore

Amanitore at Wad ban Naqa

How many of you know that two great African queens have been cited in the Bible? Most people know about the Queen of Sheba who was the queen of a kingdom in modern-day Ethiopia, and gave birth to a son to the Great King Solomon (Solomon was taken by her beauty). The second queen, who most people ignore or forget, is the Candace, or queen, of Nubia, Amanitore. She is mentioned in the Bible, Acts 8:26–40, or should we say her finance minister is, and so by ramification she is cited. So who was Amanitore, this African queen who was cited in the Bible?

Candace (queen) Amanitore is the daughter of the Nubian warrior queen Amanishakheto and grand-daughter to another warrior queen, Amanirenas. She descends from a long line of kings and queens who ruled over the ancient Kushitic Kingdom of Meroë, which also is referred to as Nubia in many ancient sources. In Egyptian hieroglyphics the throne name of Amanitore reads as Merkare. Like all her predecessors, she was a warrior queen who led forces to battle. Her rule extended over the area between the Nile and the Atbara rivers.

Amanitores pyramid in Meroe
Amanitore’s pyramid in Meroe (Wikipedia)

Kandace Amanitore is often mentioned as co-regent with Natakamani although the evidence does not show whether she was his wife or his mother. Many believe that she might have been his mother. Images, on pyramids, of Natakamani frequently include an image of Amanitore. Her royal palace was at Gebel Barkal in modern-day Sudan, which is now a UNESCO heritage site.

Amanitore is mentioned in a number of texts as a ruler. These include the temple at the Nubian capital of Napata in present-day Sudan, in a temple in Meroë near Shendi, again in Sudan, and at the Naqa Lion Temple.

She was part of the Meroitic historical period and her reign began in 1 BC. The rule of her successor, Amanitaraqide, was complete by 50 AD. She is buried in her own pyramid in Meroë. The tomb is approximately 6 m square at its base, and not a pyramid in the mathematical sense.

Nubia_Pyramids of Meroe
Nubian pyramids at Meroe (Wikipedia)

Amanitore was among the last great Kush builders. She, and Natakamani, were involved in restoring the large temple of Amun at Meroë and the Amun temple at Napata after it was demolished by the Romans. Reservoirs for the retention of water also were constructed at Meroë during her reign. The two rulers also built Amun temples at Naqa and Amara. At Naqa, the great centre of the steppe-country south of Meroe: the frontal approach to the temple of Amun became a pylon whose decoration combines Egyptian influences and purely Meroitic features, while the most famous building is the Naqa lion temple whose reliefs are among the most representative examples of Meroitic art.

The quantity of buildings that was completed during the middle part of the first century indicates that she led the most prosperous time in Meroitic history. More than two hundred Nubian pyramids were built, most plundered in ancient times.

She led a wealthy country, with large resources of gold, and exported jewelry, exotic animals, and textiles.

Nubia_Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe_Sculpted gantry
Sculpted palace? on the facade of the temple in the background, a king and queen – could this be King Natakamani and Queen Amanitore? (Wikipedia – UNESCO)

The pyramids of the king, the queen and the princes have been identified at Meroë. The king and queen liked to be portrayed with one of the royal princes, ArikankharorArikakhatani or Sherkaror, varying according to the monument; perhaps the princes were viceroys of the provinces in whose principal temples they were pictured. Sherkaror seems to have ascended the throne in succession to his parents shortly after the opening of the Christian era; a rock carving at Gebel Qeili in the south of Butana shows him triumphing over innumerable enemies under the protection of a solar deity.

To learn more, please check out, the UNESCO funded book General History of Africa Vol.2, Ancient Civilizations of Africa, P. 307-30850 Greatest Africans — Pharaoh Natakamani and Queen Amanitore & Ngola Ann Nzinga , The Kingdom of Kush by László Török, P. 198 and 461, ISBN 90-04-10448-8.

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