Relief from the Interior of the Funerary Chapel of a Meroe Queen

Illustration

Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin
by
published on 29 September 2016

From early 3rh century BCE until the 4th century CE the majority of Meroitic rulers were buried beneath pyramids close to the city of Meroe. On several occasions the kingdom was ruled by queen whose title was Kandake. A distorted reference to this practice appears in Classical accounts, which report that the "Ethiopians" were always ruled by women called Candace. The ruler buried beneath Pyramid N.11 was probably Queen Shanakdakhete (2nd century BCE), the 1st of the ruling queens of Meroe. The reliefs exhibited here come from the south wall of the Queen's funerary chapel and reflect the strong influence of pharaonic Egypt on Meroitic monumental sculpture. The chapel itself was built against the eastern face of the pyramid.

On the right, the queen sits enthroned, wearing an elaborate, decorative robe. Behind her, is another royal personage, perhaps a prince. Bound prisoners are depicted beneath the Queen's throne, and the royal pair are protected by the wings of the goddess Isis. On the left, rows of attendants bearing palm branches are represented, together with scenes in which religious ceremonies are enacted and offerings made to various deities. Among these depictions, the Queen's heart is shown being weighed in a balance, an episode derived from Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife. From pyramid N.11 at Meroe (Meroë), modern-day Sudan. 2nd century BCE. (The British Museum, London).



About the Author

Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin
Associate Professor of Neurology and lover of the Cradle of Civilization, Mesopotamia. I'm very interested in Mesopotamian history and always try to take photos of archaeological sites and artifacts in museums, both in Iraq and around the world.

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