Napata and Meroe
Arkamaniqo is the first king
who was not buried
in the north at Nuri, but farther south in Meroe. Meroe was
already in the Napatan Period an important centre and perhaps
very early also the political centre of the country. Along with
the change in royal burial place other changes are visible. From
about the second century BC the Meroitic script was used. It is
possible to identify some words, including the names of kings,
in Meroitic inscriptions, but it is not possible to understand
the few surviving longer texts. In the absence of inscriptions
or manuscripts in known scripts, it is therefore hard to obtain
detailed information about the political history of the land at
this time from internal sources
Meroitic culture is still very much influenced
culture, but the Egyptian elements now seem to be used only for
funerary and religious monuments (as increasingly also in Egypt
at the same time). In the Meroitic Period arts and crafts are
very much influenced by Hellenistic arts (again, as in Egypt).
One example is the sculpture found in a sanctuary at Meroe
('Roman bath'). African elements also became more important; the
precise regional relations implicit in these need further
research in the archaeology of adjacent areas. Lower Nubia,
which seems to have been almost uninhabited, became important
again in the first to fourth centuries AD, maybe through trade
between the Romans and Nubians. Imports from the Roman empire,
quite often items of luxury are common at this time. Several
rich settlements (Qasr Ibrim) and cemeteries of the period have
been excavated in Lower Nubia.
Little is known about the end of the Meroitic Period. In the
middle of the 4th century the royal cemetery at Meroe was no
longer used. It is not known whether the kings were now buried
at other places or whether simply there were no more kings.
However, there are indications that the Meroitic culture
remained 'alive' for a certain time. It has been suggested that
the empire disintegrated leaving separate smaller kingdoms. In
the sixth century AD three Christian kingdoms appeared in Nubia
and they might be considered the successors of the Meroitic
empire at least in its northern half.
In the New Kingdom (about 1550 - 1069 BC) Nubia was occupied and
colonised by the Egyptians as far south as the area between the
Third and Fourth Cataracts. The end of Egyptian rule is obscure.
It has been assumed that the Egyptians left Nubia at the end of
the New Kingdom. However the title 'viceroy of Kush' is still
attested in the Third Intermediate Period, and it is possible
that Egyptians still claimed control over some parts of Lower
Nubia, perhaps more in land rights or access to resources, than
in full administrative control.
At el Kurru archaeologists have found several burials which seem
to belong to local leaders, buried here after the Egyptians left
the country. Alara and Kashta are the first of these leaders
known to bear at least parts of a royal titulary, written in
Egyptian hieroglyphs and based on the model of Egyptian kingship
(the name of Alara is written in a cartouche; Kashta (about 760
- 747 BC) has a nomen and a prenomen). The next king Piy is
already well-known from a stela found at Napata, on which he
reports a campaign to Egypt. It is not certain whether his
campaign to Egypt had the effect of annexing Egypt immediately,
but certainly the next kings (Shabako, Shabitqo, Taharqo,
Tanutamani) ruled over Egypt. After the Assyrian conquest of
Egypt, Tanutamani still seems to have ruled parts of Upper
Egypt, but they may finally have been driven out of the country
in the rise to independent power of the 26th Dynasty.
The Napatan Period (about 700 - 300 BC) is named after the town
Napata, where an Amun temple was built and where the kings were
buried in small pyramids (the cemeteries are located not far at
Nuri and el Kurru). Napata was the religious centre of the
country. The political centre was perhaps already quite early
farther south at Meroe.
In the visible record Napatan culture seems heavily influenced
by the Egyptians. The kings were buried in small pyramids, with
an Egyptian style funerary equipment (shabtis, sarcophagi with
religious texts, canopic jars, funerary stelae). The Egyptian
hieroglyphic script was used. The exact order of most kings of
the Napatan period is still under discussion. There is a group
of well attested rulers dating shortly after the the end of
Napatan control of Egypt (for example: Senkamanisken and
Aspelta). Some kings dating to about the 4th century BC are
again well-known from long monumental inscriptions
From the beginning of the 3rd century BC onwards the kings were
buried at Meroe. This is normally seen as the beginning of the
Names of Kush (Napata and Meroe)
The Kingdom of Kush was a powerful entity from about 900 (or
750) to 300 BC. The kingdom was centered on Napata, near the
Nile's fourth cataract. Kawa and Tare are two important Kushite
cities. The kingdom was heavily influenced by the Egyptians.
Various Egyptian kings had their eyes on conquering Nubia since
3000 BC. Senefru, in 2750 BC, reportedly attacked the land of
the Nehesi (Nubians). The people of Kush invaded Egypt and
formed Egypt's 25th Dynasty. The Assyrians drove the Napatans
out of Egypt and ended the 25th Dynasty. The Kingdom of Kush
eventually was moved further south, perhaps because of conflict
with the Romans, and became the Kingdom of Meroe. (1, 2, 4, 6)
The Kingdom of Meroe lay to the south of Egypt and was the
successor to the earlier state of Kush. While Kush was centered
on Napata, near the Nile's fourth cataract, Meroe was centered
on the more southern town of Meroe, near the Nile's sixth
cataract. The Kingdom of Meroe lasted from about 500 BC to 300
AD. The wealth of Meroe came from the production of iron and
iron tools, the raising of sorghum and millet, cattle herding,
and trade. Meroe's merchants traded with their northern
neighbor, Egypt, and with other cultures through towns on the
Red Sea, such as Massawa. At first, Meroe was strongly
influenced by Egyptian culture but gradually, the inhabitants
adapted Egyptian hieroglyphs and culture to fit their own needs.
A local language, called Meroitic, replaced Egyptian as the
court language. Meroitic is no longer spoken and its
relationship with other languages is not clear. It may have been
a Nilo-Saharan language. Nilo-Saharan languages used to be
spoken from the upper Niger river to the Upper Nile river.
Nilo-Saharan languages include Songhay, Kanuri, the language of
the Kanem and Bornu kingdoms of Lake Chad between the 9th and
19th centuries, and Maasai. The deities of Meroe were largely
those of Napata. Meroe was eventually abandoned. The land was
worn out and the trading power of Aksum had eclipsed Meroe's
trading connections. (1, 13)
Kushite Male Names (Napata)
Meroitic Male Names
Akhratan - Ruled 353 to 340 B.C. (14)
Aktisanes - Ruled between
315 and 270 B.C. (14)
Alara - One of the first Kushite kings, ruled 785
to 760 B.C. (7)
Amaniastabarqo - Ruled 510 to 487 B.C.
Amani-nataki-lebte, Amani-natake-lebte - A king of Napata, ruled
538 to 519 B.C. (4, 14)
Amani-bakhi - A king of Napata, ruled 340 to
335 B.C. (4)
Analmaaye - Ruled 542 to 538 B.C. (14)
Anlamani - A
king of Napata, ruled 623 to 593 B.C. (4, 14)
Aramatelqo - Ruled 568 to
555 B.C. (14)
Aryamani - Ruled between 315 and 270 B.C.
Aspalta, Aspelta - A king of Napata, ruled 593 to 568 B.C. (4,
Atlanersa - Ruled Kush from 653 to 643 B.C. (14)
Ruled 405 to 404 B.C. (14)
Dakka - Napatan or Meroite official
Harsiyotef - A king of Napata, ruled 404 to 369 B.C. (4,
Irike-Amanote - A king of Napata, ruled 431 to 405 B.C. (4,
Irike-Piye-qo - Ruled between 315 and 270 B.C. (14)
Napatan or Meroite official (8)
Karkamani - Ruled 519 to 510 B.C.
Kashta - Ruler of Napatan Kush and Egypt (2)
Malonaqen - Ruled
555 to 542 B.C. (14)
Malowiebamani - Ruled 463 to 435 B.C.
Nasakhma - Ruled 468 to 463 B.C. (14)
Nastasen - A king of
Napata, ruled 335 to 315 B.C. (4, 14)
Paiftauaabaste - Name on a situla
(water vessel) from the time of Taharqa (7)
Pinodjem - Kushite king?
Piye, Piankhy - Son of Kashta (2)
Sabrakamani - Ruled between
315 and 270 B.C. (14)
Senkamanisken - Ruled 643 to 623 B.C.
Shabaka, Shabaqo - Ruled from 716 to 702 BC (2, 14)
Shebitqo - Ruled 702 to 690 BC (2, 14)
Siaspiqa - Ruled 487 to 468 B.C.
Taharqa, Taharqo - Ruled 690 to 664 BC (2, 14)
Ruled 435 to 431 B.C. (14)
Tantamani, Tenutamon - A king of Napata
Tanwetamani - Last Napatan king of Egypt, reigned until 663 or 653
BC. (2, 14)
- Ruled 134 to 140 A.D. (14)
- Ruled between 40 and 10 B.C. (14)
Amanikhabale - King of
Meroe about 50 to 40 BC (7)
Amanikhalika - Ruled 170 to 175 A.D.
Amanikhareqerem - Ruled 190 to 200 A.D. (14)
Ruled 62 to 85 A.D. (14)
Amanirenas - Ruled between 40 and 10 B.C.
Amanislo - Ruled 260 to 250 B.C. (14)
Amanitaraqide - Ruled 40
to 50 A.D. (14)
Amanitenmemide - Ruled 50 to 62 A.D.
Arikakahtani - Ruled between 1 and 20 A.D. (14)
Ruled between 1 and 20 A.D. (14)
Aritenyesbokhe - Ruled 175 to 190 A.D.
Arkamani-qo - Ruled 270 to 260 B.C. (14)
Arnekhamani - Ruled
235 to 218 B.C. (14)
Arqamani - 218 to 200 B.C. (14)
Ruled 215 to 225 A.D. (14)
Bekemete - Military and civil leader in the
mid-third century A.D. (14)
Khaleme - Name found in Mediq in Lower
Nubia, date not stated (14)
Maleqorobar - Ruled 266 to 283 A.D.
Naqyrinsan - Ruled 130 to 110 B.C. (14)
Natakamani - Ruled
between 1 and 20 A.D. (14)
Nawidemak - Ruled between 90 and 50 B.C.
Netekamani, Natakani - King of Meroe from 12 BC to 12 AD. (1,
Pakheme - Name found in Mediq in Lower Nubia, date not stated
Pisakar - Ruled 30 to 40 A.D. (14)
Shorkaror - Ruled 20 to 30
Takideamani - Ruled 140 to 155 A.D. (14)
Ruled 114 to 134 A.D. (14)
Tanyidamani - Meroite king from 120 to 100
BC. or 110 to 90 B.C. (6, 14)
Tarekeniwal - Ruled 155 to 170 A.D.
Teqerideamani - Ruled 90 to 114 A.D. A second king by this name
ruled 246 to 266 A.D. (14)
Teritedakhatey - Ruled 200 to 215 A.D.
Teriteqas - Ruled between 40 and 10 B.C. (14)
Teritnide - Ruled
85 to 90 A.D. (14)
Yesbokheamani - Ruled 283 to 300 A.D.
Female Names (Napata)
Female Names (Napata)
Alakhebasken - A
queen of Napata (4)
Henttawy - Wife of Pinodjem (7)
Kasaqa - Mother
of Tabiry (7)
Neferukekashta - A wife of Piye (7)
Nensela - Kandake
(queen) of Kush and mother of Aspalta c. 600 BC (10)
Tabiry - A wife of
Piye and daughter of Alara and Kasaqa (7)
Takahatamani - A wife of
Taharqa, 600s BC (7)
Amanishakhete - Meroite queen, 35 BC to 20 AD (9)
- Ruled 10 to 1 B.C. (14)
Amanitore - Meroite queen, 20 to 0 BC or
ruled between 1 and 20 A.D. (9, 14)
Kaditede - Wife of the Meroite
king, Amanikhabale, c. 50 BC (7)
Shanakdakhete - Ruled 170 to 150 B.C.
Amon - This name appears in many personal
Apedemak - The lion god (4)