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Red sandstone relief from the pyramid chapel of Queen Shanakdakhete

Front view

  • Detail of relief

    Detail of relief


Height: 244.000 cm
Width: 455.500 cm

Gift of the Sudan Government

EA 719

Room 65: Sudan, Egypt & Nubia


    Red sandstone relief from the pyramid chapel of Queen Shanakdakhete

    From Meroe, Central Sudan
    Meroitic Period, 2nd century BC

    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. Although the reliefs are in a style that looks Egyptian, they have their own, independently developed, characteristics.

    The term 'Kush' or 'Kushite' was used long before the eighth century BC to refer to Nubian ruling powers. But it is particularly used to describe the cultures whose first major contact with Egypt began with the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, and whose Nubian kings put an end to the fragmented state of Egypt by 715 BC. However, Kushite rule did not last long in Egypt. In the face of Assyrian attack, the last Kushite kings, Taharqa and Tanutamun, fled to Nubia. There they and their descendants were dominant until the fourth century AD, and were buried at el-Kurru, Nuri, Gebel Barkal, and Meroe.

    J.H. Taylor, Egypt and Nubia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

    S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


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