Shanakdakhete – Reigned c.177 – 155 BCE – Meroë, Kingdom of Kush

Kingdom of Kush

Earliest known ruling queen of ancient Nubia


Queen-of-MeroeShanakdakhete (or Shanakdakheto) was a ruling queen of the Kingdom of Kush (also known as Nubia – modern day Sudan).

The term ‘Kush’ or ‘Kushite’ is particularly used to describe the Nubian cultures that had major contact with ancient Egypt. Kush survived longer than Egypt, and invaded Egypt under King Piye in the 8th Century BCE, with Kushite kings ruling as Pharaoh’s for almost a century.

Kush shared many cultural practices with Egypt, including religion – we know that Shanakdakhete called herself ‘Son of Re, Lord of the Two Lands’. Bas-reliefs dated to about 170 BCE depict Shanakdakhete dressed in armor and wielding a spear in battle.

Unusually for a female ruler of this time, Shanakdakhete did not rule as queen regent or queen mother, but as a fully independent ruler. Equally unusually, she did have a husband, who acted as her consort.


In carvings found in the ruins of building projects she commissioned, Shanakdakhete is portrayed alone as well as with her husband and son, who would inherit the throne upon her death.


The Black Pharaoh’s – Robert Draper for the National Geographic

Nubian Pharaohs and Meroitic Kings: The Kingdom of Kush Necia Desiree Harkles

On Wikipedia:

Image credits:

Sudan Meroe Pyramids 2001 N11“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0 via Commons

Queen-of-Meroe” by Udimuderivative work: AnnekeBart (talk) – Nubia_Queen_of_Meroe_in_Cairo_Museum_1989.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons –


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