Amanirenas (full name Amnirense qore li kdwe li, meaning Ameniras, Qore and Kandake) was the ruler of the Kingdom of Kush, which is modern-day Sudan, from ca. 40 BC–10 BC. Amanirenas, who lost an eye in battle, was a strong and fierce ruler who did not cower to the Roman Empire. Because of this, she is one of the kingdom’s most well-known leaders.
Amanirenas’s exact date of birth is not known, but it is thought she was born somewhere around the 60s and 50s BC and lived to around 10 BC when she died at Dakka. She was buried at Jebel Barkal.
She has been most well-known for her involvement in the Roman conflict. She helped launch the initial attack in Egypt while Aelius Gallus (the Roman prefect of Egypt) was away from the country. Amanirenas and her son, Akinidad successfully defeated the Roman forces in both Syene and Philae.
Amanirenas knew, after the defeat of Cleopatra and Marc Antony, that Kush was next on the Roman list of conquests, and so, her kingdom struck the Romans while they were distracted.
After returning to Kush with an array of different spoils of war including a bronze statue of Emperor Augustus, she buried it under the entranceway of her palace so everyone could walk over her enemy.
Later that year, Kush was driven out of Syene by the new Roman prefect in Egypt, Publius Petronius, and the Kingdom of Kush would be invaded by Roman forces which advanced far enough to reach Napata. Amanirenas ordered a counterattack with brutal tactics. Based off of carvings found, Amanirenas is believed to have fed her captives to her pet lion.
However, the Kushites were prevented from re-taking Qasr Ibrim (or Primis to Romans) which the Romans had taken during their invasion. Negotiations for peace then began; peace was achieved in 21/20 BC with it being favourable to the Meroites (including Qasr Ibrim being given back to the Kushites). Amanirenas’s kingdom was too powerful for Rome to continue to battle.
Much information about the Kingdom of Kush remains a mystery as no one has been able to translate their hieroglyphs. Therefore, historians do not know Kush’s side and recounts of the war.