Trade brought the Meroitic culture much wealth, but its rulers gave it its strength.
Just as the pharaohs of Dynasty 25 had claimed to be sons of the god Amon, so too did the leaders of the Meroe culture.
In some ways, however, the rulers of Meroe were quite different from Egyptian rulers. In Meroe, women played an important role in governing. In fact, many historians believe that the right to rule was passed on through the queen, not the king. Women could also be rulers themselves, and many queens ruled Meroe.
Much of what we know about the women who ruled Meroe comes from ancient carvings on Nubian temples. Many of the Meroitic queens are pictured as warriors holding swords. These powerful queens are even known to have led their own troops in battles. One queen was Amanitore (uh»MAN»uh»tawr»ee). Queen Amanitore led her army against the Romans in 24 B.C.
The carvings also show how Meroitic rulers dressed. A king or queen wore a long robe with a cloak over it. Often this outfit was draped with a fringed shawl and long bands of cloth with tassels that hung almost to the floor. Kings and queens wore jewelry. Sometimes they placed a whole series of thick bracelets on their lower and upper arms and as many as ten rings on each hand. Large pendants were worn on chains around their necks.
In what ways did women take part in ruling Meroe?