Statue of Queen Shanakdakhete (170-150 BCE) ruling queen of Kush, and a male member of her family giving her royal power.
Her name is carved in a ruined temple where the earliest inscriptions in Meroitic hieroglyphic writing are found. Her pyramid at Meroe is one of the largest ever built for a Kushite ruler. It has a unique chapel with two rooms and two pylons. The chapel is among the most elaborately carved of any known. The scenes in the chapel show military campaigns to the south and the capture of numerous cattle and prisoners.
Aerial view of the Nubian pyramids at Meroe in 2001 with highlighting of Queen Shanakdakhete's pyramid.
Image owner: Francis Geius - Mission SFDAS 2001 Photographer: B N Chagny
Red sandstone relief from the pyramid chapel of Queen Shanakdakhete
From Meroe, Nubia
First female ruler of the Meroitic Period
The royal cemetery at Meroe has given the name 'Meroitic' to the later stages of rule by the Kushite kings. The Meroitic script has been deciphered, but the language is still not fully understood. This wall comes from one of the small steep-sided pyramids with chapels in which the rulers were buried. It was probably that of Queen Shanakdakhete, the first female ruler. She appears here enthroned with a prince, and protected by a winged Isis. In front of her are rows of offering bearers and also scenes of rituals including the judgement of the queen before Osiris.
The term 'Kush' or 'Kushite' refers to Nubian ruling powers. Nubian royalty were buried at el-Kurru, Nuri, Gebel Barkal, and Meroe.