By | Editorial Team.
Kandake was the title for queens and queen mothers (and often means the first royal wife) of the ancient African Kingdom of Kush, which was an ancient Nubian state centered on the confluences of the Blue Nile, White Nile and River Atbara in what is now the Republic of Sudan. The Kingdom was a prosperous land ruled from the capital, Meroe. They were known as Nubian warrior queens, queen regents, and ruling queen mothers. They controlled what are now Ethiopia, Sudan, and parts of Egypt.
Kandake means “great woman”, and was used as a royal title or dynastic name. It is sometimes translated into English as “Candace”. Some of the queens ruled in their own right; others ruled with their husbands, but these queens were not merely consorts, they usually had equal power with the king. At least one kandake was the ruler while her husband was consort. kandakes farmed, traded with Greeks and built the Pyramids, and some were warrior queens who led their armies into battle.
The most famous of these queens:
- Shanakdathete (170 BC–150 BC):
She was the earliest known ruling African queen of ancient Nubia, She was a queen regnant of the Kingdom of Kush, when the polity was centered at Meroe. She reigned from about 170 to 150 BC, it is also stated that as queen she played a significant role in the Meroitic religion.
Even though her family antecedents remain obscure, in one of her carvings on a dorsal pillar she is shown adorned with an insignia of rank on the forehead and a crown, similar to the one worn by the reigning kings with decoration of a sun-disk and tall feathers. She appears in the works of art in some cases, along with a smaller man. This man raises his arm from behind her to touch her crown. As long as we see in the cases of the god “Amon” taking this situation the same when property gives power to the king, some scientists have thought that the man standing behind her was crowned prince. They believe that either her husband or her father, who died before reaching the throne.
Shanakdakhete’s name is engraved in a destroyed temple, where they found the oldest inscriptions hieroglyphic writing irrigated. Her pyramid in Meroe is one of the largest pyramids built by the kings of Kush. Pyramid featuring unique chapel contains two rooms and two columns. The chapel is one of the most accurate sculptures. Landscapes in the chapel depicting military campaigns to the south show large numbers of livestock and prisoners. The queen’s landscapes appear in the form of a huge obese woman, also all Meroe queens had similar forms, which is a symbol not only aesthetically pleasing, but rather an expression of wealth and power.
- Amanirenas (40 BC–10 BC):
One of the great queens in Meroe’s history, her royal palace was at Gebel Barkal. The area of her rule was between the Nile and the Atbara rivers. Her husband king “Tritkas” and successor to the throne after his death.
She is one of the most famous kandakes, because of her role leading Kushite armies against the Romans from in a war that lasted five years; from 27 BC to 22 BC, She often are the “Kendakh” which ordered its army to attack Ceni (Aswan) in 24 BC after that Egypt became subject to Rome. That attack angered the Romans so they sent revenge campaign to Nabta city. After an initial victory when the Kushites attacked Roman Egypt, they were driven out of Egypt by Gaius Petronius.
It seems that the Romans leaders saw the queen, so that the Greek geographical “Strabo” wrote that the queen was very masculine and blind in one eye. This description is consistent in terms of physical strength of Meroe’s queens and we can see that on the walls of their Tombs and temples. Pyramid 21 North Meroe (Begrawiya) was the burial place of the great queen that didn’t keep her own name but all the engraved on the walls of the chapel prove that was Amanirenas’s tomb.
- Amanishakheto (10 BC–1 BC):
She was an extremely wealthy and powerful queen and a great queen that assumed the Meroe throne after the death of “Amanirenas”. It was unknown if she was the sister or the second wife of King “Tritkas”, or if she was the daughter of “Amanirenas”.
Amanishakheto was the most powerful and wealthiest among the rulers of Meroe. She built considerable pyramids and temples at “Wad Naqaa”, where she was buried with great treasures. Her residence and several temples were based there. Her palace was one of the largest pyramids, which built in 1833. Inside Amanishakheto’s grave, the Italian treasure adventurer “Ferlini” discovered an amazing quantity of golden artifacts such as armlets, necklaces and some jewelry, which is now divided between the Egyptian Museum in Berlin and the Museum of Munich. 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 the enemies of North and South.
- Amanitore & Natakamani (1–20 AD):
This Queen and her husband were the most famous couples in the history of Meroe, they built a lot of amazing buildings along the kingdom. Their fame didn’t come just from their artworks and architecture but also because they didn’t ever appear individually, they always appeared together as a husband and wife in a mirror that reflects bilateral male – and female.
The meaning inherent in that imaging is unclear; some scientists say that “Natakamani” may have belonged to non-ownership family so that he needed to confirm its legitimacy to appear with his wife of royalty assets.
They had three sons; two of them died and buried next to Amanishakheto’s tomb, the third one “Chiracarar” became a king after his father died. It’s probable that “Amanitore” was the daughter of “Amanishakheto”.
There are also other queens like: Amantitere (22–41 AD), Amanikhatashan (62–85 AD), Maleqorobar (266–283 AD) and Lahideamani (306–314 AD).
All these queens belong to the 25th dynasty. Their kingdom was the great power among the rest of the Kingdoms.