In ancient times, the Roman Empire dominated and successfully got a hold of large territories around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia with emperors of solid military experience and the best equipped and mosr disciplined armies of the ancient world. Other empires and kingdoms found it difficult to resist Rome’s dogged determination when they were at war. However, from the years 25 to 21 BC, one queen stood and managed to do what others couldn’t. She was the queen of the Kingdom of Kush named Amanirenas, and she stood and did not allow her kingdom to be taken and controlled by the Romans.

Female Rulers

Long before women empowerment or feminism was given attention, Nubia had the long tradition of being led by women. For more than 3,000 years, the Kushite Kingdoms of Kerma, Napata, and Meroe were ruled by queens, that same time when other empires were being led by historical figures whose names we almost always hear, like Mark Antony of Rome. And although their neighbor, Egypt, overshadowed them, it turned out that the Kush civilization was advanced in their own ways, as far as language script, trade-based economy, archery, and the high levels of female participation in their society. In fact, after Amanirenas (more about her later), Amanishaketo and Amanitore followed her reign and continued protecting Nubia from invaders. Nubians were also formidable warriors, their armied comprised mostly of archers were highly prized as mercenaries serving in other countries.  The Egyptians called Nubia, “Ta-Seti” or “Land of the Bow” for thousands of years.

The Queen

The queen’s reign began when her husband Teiteqase died around 25 BC. At that time, the Romans had been occupying lower Nubia for five years. Before that, their kingdom heavily relied on and profited from the gold trade with Egypt, but Augustus seized control of Egypt from Mark Antony and Cleopatra, affecting Amanirenas’ kingdom. The Romans, to be specific, invaded the fertile lands of Nubia, a region just below Egypt. Apart from that, they imposed a high tax on the occupants of Meroe, which was Kush’s capital.

Dedicated to taking back the land, Amanirenas planned to attack the Roman forces and expel them from Egypt.