The great pyramid NG of the pyramids of Meroe, belonging to Queen
Amanishakheto, before its destruction in the 1830s. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Gabby Storey

Amanishakheto was kandake, or queen, of the kingdom of Kush in ancient Nubia. The name kandake was given to the king’s sister, as due to matrilineal succession she would bear the next heir and thus become queen mother.

Details of her life survive largely through architecture. She likely ruled in the second half of the first century BCE. Her pyramid in Meroe, previously capital of Kush, contains depictions of her which include a portrait where she has scarring under her eye.

She appears to have been an active monarch who likely undertook a coronation progress, visiting several significant religious sites including the  temples of Kawa, Gebel Barkal, and Naga. Amanishakheto was involved in the establishment of royal buildings, including a temple at Meroe and a palace in Wadi Ben Naga.

Bracelet from the tomb of Amanishakheto in Nubia. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Amanishakheto’s pyramid contained substantial jewels and gold, upon its excavation by Giuseppe Ferlini in 1834. Ferlini stole the goods and destroyed the pyramid after his pillage. These pieces are now held in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin and the Egyptian Museum of Munich.

Recommended Reading

Elizabeth Eltze, “Comparative displays: the jewels of Amanishakheto in modern German museums,” in Ancient Egypt 2017. Perspectives of Research, eds. Maria Helena Trindade Lopes, Joanna Popielska-Grzybowska, Jadwiga Iwaszczuk, and Ronaldo Guilherme Gurgel Pereira (Warsaw-Wiesbaden: Travaux de l’Institut des Cultures Méditerranéennes et Orientales de l’Académie Polonaise des Sciences, 2020)

Eugenio Fantusati, “Amanishaketo,” in Dictionary of African Biography, eds. Henry Louis Gates, Emmanuel Akyeampong, and Steven J. Niven (Oxford: Oxford University PRess, 2011)

László Török, The Kingdom of Kush: Handbook of the Napatan-Meroitic Civilization (Leiden: Brill, 1997)

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