• Fraser du Toit

Leaders of Civ VI - Amanitore of Nubia

Updated: Jul 25

Amanitore leads Nubia in Sid Meier's Civilization VI. She was the Nubian Kandake of the Kushitic Kingdom of Meroë. Amanitore reigned over the Kingdom of Meroë from 1 CE to 20 CE. Her rule was a time of great prosperity and development for the kingdom of Meroë. She was one of two African queens mentioned in the Hebrew holy book (Torah). Who was this mighty queen, and what great accomplishments can we credit to her?

The Kushitic Kingdom of Meroë

The Kushitic Kingdom of Meroë was a kingdom located south of Egypt, in northern Sudan. Once, long before Amanitore ruled the land, they controlled Egypt itself. Until the Assyrians defeated them and pushed their sphere of influence further south. The Kushite conquest of Upper Egypt happened during the 25th dynasty period in the 8th century BCE. They ruled there for around 200 years before the Assyrians invaded.

The fighting lasted for nearly 100 hundred years. Initially, the Kushite kings resisted the invaders, but their control over Upper Egypt was systematically chipped away until in 656 BCE the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, raised up a native Egyptian to rule as his puppet. The Kushite and Egyptian people would influence each other quite a bit over the coming centuries culturally, economically, and through their intermittent conflicts.

History has a way of focusing on war. Luckily, that is not all we have of the legacy of the Nubian people. They were great builders and engineers all throughout their history. For example, during the Napatan-Meroitic period, they used the animal-driven water wheel to increase productivity and create a surplus of resources.

So many kingdoms do not last, especially during the ancient era. The Kushitic Kingdom survived the Bronze Age collapse and outlived the Assyrian, Achaemenid-Persian, and Ptolemaic empires. They would contend with the Roman Empire and repel several military incursions into their lands over the centuries.

Kandake of Meroë

Amanitore held the title of Kandake. That title would later be Latinized into the name Candace. Kandake's held immense power in the Nubian civilization as it was a matrilineal dynasty. Kings held power that was lesser than that held by the Kandake, in fact, a Kandake had the legal authority to command a king to commit suicide should she consider their performance lacking. They held lands, had their own court, and acted as regents of the kingdom.

The Greek geographer, Strabo, was the first to describe a Kandake in his encyclopedia Geographica in 23 BCE. Archaeological evidence exists for at least ten of these Meroitic queens during the 500 years from 260 BCE to 320 CE. Inscriptions on the stelae of these royal women indicate that a Kandake had to be present for a king to be crowned. The Kandake could be the king's mother or his wife. She held the office of God's Wife of Amun, which means that she represented the chief Kushite god's will on Earth. Amun was also a prominent deity in Egypt, and would later fuse with their chief deity, Ra, to become the new god, Amun-Ra.

These Nubian Kushites weren't the only culture to use the title of Kandake. According to the official royal chronicle of Ethiopia, they had a few Kandake in their dynasty, which allegedly stretches from 1000 BCE to 1973 CE. This dynasty endured European colonialism and only fell when the last Ethiopian king, Haile Selassie, was overthrown by his own military.

Amanitore - What we Know

Amanitore, Kandake of Meroë, ruled alongside king Natakamani. He was either her husband or her son, being referred to as either throughout historical sources, but never as both. She was the daughter of the great warrior-queen, Amanishakheto, who defeated the Roman army sent to conquer Nubia. Amanishakheto was in turn the daughter of another great warrior-queen, Amanirenas.

Like the kings of the time, Amanitore had a throne name, which was Merkare. The Kushites wrote their history in Egyptian hieroglyphs, which can be found on all of the many temples and pyramids they built all across their land. Monuments that still endure to this day.

Amanitore ruled from the city of Napata at the foot of Jebel Barkal. The ruins of her once-mighty city as well as the mountain that looks over them have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Several examples of Nubian Pyramids can be found here too. These pyramids have a distinct look compared to their Egyptian cousins. They are quite a bit smaller and much more numerous. Nubian pyramids were still being constructed long after the Egyptians gave up on building their own pyramids. Unlike the Egyptian pyramids, the Nubian pyramids aren't equilateral and do not feature a sharp tip. They are more stylized, with a tiered or stepped structure functioning as a capstone and a large entryway structure. Nubian pyramids were used as tombs for the Kushitic royalty and the wealthy class.

She is known as one of the last great builders of the 25th dynasty of the Kushitic Kingdom of Meroë. Along with her co-ruler, Natakamani, she reconstructed the temples of Amun in Meroë and Napata that had been destroyed by the Romans. Amanitore oversaw the construction of water reservoirs at Meroë. They also had temples to Amun constructed in Naqa and Amara. The greatest of these temples is known as the Lion temple in Naqa, dedicated to the lion-headed god of war, Apedemak. The decoration of this temple features a mix of Egyptian and Kushite styles.

Amanitore ruled during one of the most prosperous times for the Kushitic kingdom. The sheer wealth of buildings completed under her supervision indicates great prosperity. Her propensity for construction and civil development can be seen in the game, Civilization VI, where she receives bonuses for building districts in her cities. More than 200 Nubian pyramids were constructed during her reign as Kandake.

Legacy of the Great Queen

Amanitore left behind a strong kingdom, rich in history and gold. They traded jewelry and exotic animals with the world. Her daughter, Amanitaraqide, succeeded her as Kandake of Meroë. Amanitaraqide ruled for 20 years, similar to her mother's nearly 20-year reign. Very few texts and sources remain that refer to Amanitore. Her story was surely much more detailed at some point in history, but this is what remains of the great builder of the Kushitic Nubians, Amanitore Kandake of Meroë.