Meroitic Kushite I/58: 592BC- 350AD
1x El , 3Cv or 3Bw (General): Kandake Amanirenawas on Elephant
The Meroitic Kushite period is named after the royal burial ground at Meroe, situated between the Fifth and Sixth Cataracts. In the third century BC the royal cemetery was moved there from Napata, though Meroe had long been one of the major centers of the Kushite state. This move coincided with the arrival of Greek culture in Egypt, following the country's conquest by Alexander the Great. The resulting Graeco-Egyptian culture influenced the Kingdom of Kush giving its later phases a distinctive character. This was in contrast to the preceding Napatan period, which was influenced by the Pharaonic Egyptian culture. The Kushite kingdom prospered from control of the trade routes along the Nile valley from Central Africa to Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, particularly after the 2nd Century when the camel was introduced to Africa and there was a flourishing of caravan routes across the continent. Its position gave Meroe access to trading outlets on the Red Sea. The kingdom also had the resources needed for the smelting of iron: ore, water from the Nile and wood from acacia trees to make charcoal.
In 24 BC, soon after Rome had taken Egypt from Anthony and Cleopatra, the Kushites invaded Lower Nubia, attacking and plundering Syrene, Elephantine and Philae. From there, they push on to Thebes and defeated its Roman garrison. Strabo reported that the Kushite Queen "enslaved the inhabitants, and threw down a statue of Caesar". A bronze head of Augustus was unearthed in excavation at Meroe in 1912, and can be seen in the British Museum.
The Roman general Aelius Petronius was dispatched into Nubia. He met and defeated a Meroitic army and drove on to Napata, which was said to have been captured and destroyed, and its inhabitants enslaved. The Kushites sent envoys for negotiations at Samos Island and concluded a peace treaty. Kushite tribute was suspended and a permanent ambassadorial position was established between Meroe and Roman Egypt. The Romans withdrew to Maharraka, which established Roman control of Lower Nubia. The peace treaty endured for three centuries, with special emphasis on Red Sea trade, even into the Indian Ocean. Curiously, in Stabo's account it was noted that the Merotic queen, Kandake Amanirenawas, was "a very masculine sort of woman and blind in one eye."
By A.D. 300-350, Meroe was largely abandoned due mainly to environmental pollution. The smelting industry had poisoned the soil. Trees had been cut down and the resulting erosion had washed away the topsoil thus reducing the ability to feed the population. In A.D. 350, the Christian King Ezana of Axum defeated Meroitic forces, and the Meroitic period ended. The Meroitic written language has never been translated.
The head of Augustus from the British Museum. The Kushites had buried it under the doorway to a temple. By stepping over it they could show their disdain for Rome.
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