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.

Africa’s Forbidden Pyramids: Meroe, Nubia, and Sudan

Nubia_Pyramids of Meroe
Pyramids at Meroe (Wikipedia)

As I already told you about Nubia, and the Meroitic civilization which dominated Egypt for over 3 centuries, I also have to add that there are more pyramids in Nubia, modern-day Sudan, than in the whole of Egypt. Remember the great queen Amanishakheto and King Taharqa who ruled over Egypt.

Nubia_Sphinx of Taharqa
Sphinx of King Taharqa (Wikipedia)

Enjoy the video below, made by a BBC journalist to get acquainted with Sudan’s rich history and pyramids!

Why the Name: Khartoum?

Aerial view of Khartoum in 1936

What comes to mind as you say the name of the capital of Sudan, Khartoum? Well, for me, I imagine the great Nubian Empire with its queen Amanishakheto or King Taharqa; I imagine big sand dunes, and of course history… so much history, the history of one of the greatest African kingdoms, one which dominated ancient Egypt for centuries. So how far am I from the real meaning of the name Khartoum?

The origin of the word, “Khartoum“, is uncertain. There are many interpretations. One of them states that the name khartoum is derived from the Arabic khurṭūm (tuskstrunk or hose) for elephant tusks, or it could be referring to the narrow strip of land extending between the Blue and White Niles [not sure how trunk or hose could be thought to be a strip of land].

Pyramids of Nubia
Pyramids of Nubia (Wikipedia)

Captain J.A. Grant, who reached Khartoum in 1863 with Captain Speke‘s expedition, thought the name was most probably from the Arabic qurtum (قرطم safflower, i.e., Carthamus tinctorius), which was cultivated extensively in Egypt for its oil to be used as fuel [not sure why a city in Sudan will be named for a plant which is cultivated in its neighbor’s country]. Some scholars speculate that the word may be derived from the Nubian word, Agartum (“the abode of Atum“), the Nubian and Egyptian god of creation. Other Beja scholars suggest “Khartoum” is derived from the Beja word, Hartoom (“meeting“). Additionally, the dream interpreting magicians in Genesis 41:8 are referred to as חַרְטֻמֵּ֥י (Khartoumei) [as you can see Black Africans are in the Bible everywhere].

So, which one of these interpretations is the most accurate?

Khartoum, today (Source:Wikipedia)

The city as it is known today was established in 1821, 24 kilometers north of the ancient city of Soba, by Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Egypt‘s ruler, Muhammad Ali Pasha, who had just incorporated Sudan into his realm. Originally, Khartoum served as an outpost for the Egyptian Army, but the settlement quickly grew into a regional center of trade. It also became a focal point for the slave trade. Later, it became the administrative center of Sudan and official capital.

Black Pharaohs of Nubia
Black Pharaohs of Nubia

Khartoum is located in the middle of the populated areas in Sudan, and is part of the tri-cities composed of Khartoum proper, and linked by bridges to Khartoum North and Omdurman to the west, with an overall population of 5 million inhabitants. Khartoum and Sudan as whole, were the home of several ancient flourishing civilizations, such as Nubia, the Kingdom of Kush, Kerma, Nobatia, Alodia, Makuria, Meroë and others, most of which flourished along the Nile. During the pre-dynastic period Nubia and Nagadan Upper Egypt were identical, simultaneously evolved systems of Pharaonic kingship by 3300 BC. Khartoum is home to amazing museums, including the largest museum of Sudan,  the National Museum of Sudan, where one can be immersed in the rich culture of Sudan and the different eras of its history. Among the exhibits are two Egyptian temples of Buhen and Semna, originally built by Queen Hatshepsut and Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, respectively, but relocated to Khartoum upon the flooding of Lake Nasser.

Well, if you visit Khartoum, don’t forget to visit the National Museum of Sudan, and learn of the great African civilizations that flourish there, reclaim your history, African history, and above all enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the people of Khartoum!



Amanishakheto, Warrior Queen of Nubia

Candace Amanishakheto on a mural
Candace Amanishakheto on a mural

Great women are often left out of history.  Rarely do we hear or read about African queens.  It is already hard enough to read about great African men and leaders in history books, but as for African women… it is more like impossible.  How many have heard of the great warrior queen of Nubia, Amanishakheto, who defeated a Roman army?  Who has heard of this great queen whose pyramid/tomb was leveled to the ground by an Italian treasure hunter, Giuseppe Ferlini, in 1832? Who has heard of this woman who led her people with a strong arm, and built pyramids in Meroë?  Who has heard of this great candace, whose daughter Amanitore, also queen of Nubia, is mentioned in the Bible (Acts 8:27) … yeah the Queen of Sheba is not the only African queen mentioned in the Bible!

Pyramid N6 of Amanishakheto in Meroe, before its destruction
Pyramid N6 of Amanishakheto in Meroe, before its destruction

Well, let me tell you about the great Candace (Kandake or queen) of Nubia (present day Sudan), Amanishaketo (also written Amanishaket, or Amanikasheto or Mniskhte in meroitic hieroglyphs) who reigned from around 10 BC to 1 ADCandace Amanishaket was an extremely wealthy and powerful queen.  She succeeded to Candace Amanirenas who was also a great warrior queen (and will be the subject of another post).  She built considerable pyramids and temples at Wad Ban Naqa, where she was buried with great treasures.  Her residence and several temples were based there.  Her palace is one of the largest treasures identified at Wad ban Naqa.  It was 61 m long, and covered an area of  3700 m2 with the ground floor made up of over 60 rooms.  The palace originally had a second floor as indicated by the remains of columns found on the ground floor, and may have contained an atrium or other structure.  Inside Amanishakheto’s grave, the Italian treasure hunter Ferlini discovered an amazing quantity of golden artifacts such as armlets, necklaces.  The treasure found (or what has been recovered) contained ten bracelets, nine shield rings, sixty seven signet rings, two armbands, and an extraordinary number of loose amulets and necklaces, especially made for queen Amanishakheto created by Nubian artists from her kingdom.  Some of her treasures (stolen by Ferlini) are now on display at the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, and at the Egyptian Museum of Munich.

Bracelet of Amanishakheto from the Egyptian Museum of Berlin
Bracelet of Amanishakheto from the Egyptian Museum of Berlin

Amanishakheto defeated a Roman Army sent by the first emperor of the Roman empire, Augustus, (who broke a peace treaty) to conquer Nubia.  She was a strong, and powerful woman, and a great pyramid builder.  Her tomb at Meroë was one of the largest ever built.  She is often depicted on pyramid murals as a massive, powerful woman, covered with jewels, elaborate fringed, tasseled robes, and carrying weapons in one hand, preparing to lead her army against others. Enjoy the video below on Amanishakheto, the great warrior queen of Nubia, and do not forget to check out The Treasures of Queen Amanishakheto.

The forgotten kingdom of Nubia

Pyramids of Nubia
Pyramids of Nubia

The general public is familiar with Egypt and the pharaohs, but is not so aware that there was a highly important, sophisticated, and independent ancient civilization in Nubia, which is south of Egypt in present-day Sudan.  For over a century, Nubian pharaohs dominated Egypt, and their kingdom extended from Lake Chad and well into the middle east.  The conquest of Egypt started with Pharaoh Piye of Nubia, and continued with Taharqa who launched the most audacious building campaign of any pharaoh since the New Kingdom (around 1500 B.C.).  Under Taharqa, the capitals were Napata and Thebes, and Jebel Barkal the holy mountain.

Black Pharaohs of Nubia
Black Pharaohs of Nubia

Nubia is a kingdom with 3 times as many pyramids as Egypt.  Their language still needs to be decoded, and archaeologists are searching for a Rosetta stone similar to that discovered by Champollion which allowed the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphs.  The Nubians were well known for their military genius, and Egyptian pharaohs will sometime hire Nubian mercenaries to fight their battles.  Theirs was a civilization of strong queens such as Amanishaket, and Amanitore.  One of these queens Candace Amanirenas defeated the roman army of Augustus Caesar.

Pyramids of Meroe
Pyramids of Meroe

To learn more, check out some of these great websites:, National Geographic also had a series of articles on Nubia: Black Pharaohs, Rare Nubian King statues uncovered in Sudan. The site of Gebel Barkal was added to the UNESCO list of world treasures in 2003… check it out on the UNESCO World heritage website, and the Society of Nubian Cultures.

Please discover Nubia, and revel in African genius!

Don’t forget to watch Part 2-5 .