Amanirenas

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Amanirenas (also spelled Amanirena) was a queen of the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush.

Her full name and title was Amnirense qore li kdwe li (“Ameniras, Qore and Kandake”).

She reigned from about 40 BCE to 10 BCE. She is one of the most famous kandakes, because of her role leading Kushite armies against the Romans in a war that lasted five years, from 27 BCE to 22 BCE. 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). Amanirenas was described as brave, and blind in one eye.

Meroitic inscriptions give Amanirenas the title of qore as well as kandake suggesting that she was a ruling queen. 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. The scheme first proposed by Hintze suggests that King Teriteqas died shortly after the beginning of the war. She was succeeded by Akinidad (possibly the son of Teriteqas) who continued the campaign with his mother Amanirenas. Akinidad died at Dakka c.24BC.

Roman Conflict

The First Battles

When Aelius Gallus, the Prefect, or chief magistrate, of Egypt, was absent on a campaign in Arabia in 24 BC, the Kushites launched an attack on Egypt. Amanirenas and Akinidad defeated Roman forces at Syene and Philae, and drove the Jews from Elephantine Island. They returned to Kush with prisoners and loot, including several statues of Emperor Augustus (The Queen buried a bronze likeness of the Emperor beneath the entranceway to her palace so that she and all who came and went could tread on the head of her enemy) (Jameson 1986: 71-84).

Petronius’ Nubian Campaign

The Kushites were driven out of Syrene later in the year by Publius 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.

Following this event, negotiations began. 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 as a military border zone, so the frontier now lay near Hiere Sycaminos (Maharraqa).

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

Original article: Amanirenas

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