Natakamani was a Nubian king who ruled around 50 AD. He is known by a large number of different monuments that occupy its tremendous construction activity. He is certainly the most important ruler of the Meroitic period (from 300 BC to about 350 BC) of the kingdom of Kush.

The Kingdom of Kush is the first black African civilization that flourished in what is now Sudan and in their culture mingled Egyptian, Sub-Saharan African and Hellenistic elements.

Source location

Although Natakamani was the most important ruler of Meroe and there are many monuments to his name, is little known to secure his person and reign. His Meroitic inscriptions are not yet translatable. His inscriptions in Egyptian hieroglyphics are usually very short and come from temples on which the ruler is represented sacrificing before deities. Historical events are not played on temple walls. Natakamani is not mentioned in contemporary Greek or Roman texts.



The origin and the parents of the Natakamani are unknown. Since then, Meroe was the capital of Nubia, it can be assumed that he was born there, although this is not proven. There are hardly known evidence about the nature of succession rules in Meroitic Nubia. For some former rulers of Napatan period (ca. 700-300 BC), which preceded the Meroitic, there are inscriptions which show that the son of the father, or a brother followed his brother on the throne. Aspelta for example, was the son of a king and the brother of his predecessor Anlamani. For the Meroitic era lack such clear evidence. In Arqamani ( about 200 BC ) was suspected that he was the son of a king, as a prince is called Arqa in the temple of his predecessor and was held for a short form of Arqa Arqamani. For other kings of the Meroitic period, the names of the parents have survived, and these are never royal ( see, for example: Amanitaraqide and Takideamani ). Whether this was a coincidence of maintaining or rule in this period, so far can not be decided. In Natakamani unfortunately missing all references to his lineage. It appears, after all, together with the queen Amanitore. Candace perhaps means king's mother, so that Amanitore possibly even royal consort was Natakamani and thus the son of a ruler. The problem is that the importance of Candace all doubt is not exalted as king's mother, and next to it a king's mother does not have to be necessarily been king consort. It was therefore even suggested that Natakamani was nonroyal descent and with Amanitore reigned together in order to legitimize his power. The origin of Natakamani remains uncertain.

Based on the order of the royal pyramids of Meroe earlier researchers have attempted the order of the Meroitic ruler set. It was assumed that the first king chose the best location of the cemetery for his pyramid, while the followers of their pyramids built next to it. However, these sequences derived therefrom can not be considered safe. The Pyramid of Natakamani stands apart from the other pyramids, so that it can not even be classified using this method. But it seems that he built his pyramid at some distance of the former, simply because of the building on the hill north of the cemetery, on which were the pyramids of the predecessor, was already occupied completely. This indicates a relatively advanced date of his person buried here in order of rulers. The Pyramid of the ruling with him Amanitore is a bit off the other pyramids.

Various kings have been identified as a predecessor of Natakamani, including Amanichabale and Queen Amanishakheto. None of these assignments is but really safe.

The names

With the beginning of his reign the ruler received a royal titulary, which consisted of the equity and the Egyptian throne name in his case. From the proper name is usually assumed that it was the birth name of the ruler. This can be confirmed by means of the Meroitic sources neither be nor disproved. The meaning of the name Natakamani, which is narrated in Meroitic and Egyptian hieroglyphs, is unknown. The name contains like most Meroitic king named the word imn - Amun, so made ​​a statement to this God. His name is known in three different spellings: two versions in Egyptian hieroglyphics and in Meroitic hieroglyphs. The one case in Egyptian hieroglyphics can be used only once and may be a playful version. Such playful overrides hieroglyphic texts are also well documented in contemporary Egyptian temples and may be an indication that working artisans from this country in Nubia.

Natakamani wore next to his own - also an Egyptian throne name: Cheperkare. This is the throne name of the Egyptian king Sesostris I, who reigned about 1900 BC. Whether the name of this ruler was deliberately selected but can not be said with certainty. Already Arnekhamani wore this throne name, and it was used I ( 380-363 BC) before even the Egyptian king Nectanebo. Although many of Natakamani inscriptions are known, but no other names are assigned in the style of an Egyptian king. It can therefore be assumed that the earlier five-part Egyptian royal titulary was abandoned. This is a phenomenon that can be observed also in the contemporaneous Roman Egypt. The Roman emperors can perpetuate on monuments as pharaoh, but also they forgo the full royal titulary.

Furthermore, it is observed that the known throne names of the following Nubian rulers always repeat. The kings are all called, if known, or Cheperkare Nebmaatre. The throne name was attached no great significance apparently more and also appears only in inscriptions that were written in, mostly good, egyptian, the egyptian almost only appear on temple walls and in the pyramid chapels.

The reign

Under Natakamani experienced the Meroitic kingdom, as the many monuments prove its greatest heyday. A victory inscription of serving under Natakamani Shorakaror found himself on the mountain Qeili and is the most easterly of the Meroitic inscription found. The inscription may imply that the kingdom now had its greatest extent. However, this monument of Shorakaror is the only unambiguous evidence for military actions under the king. On temple reliefs of the ruler at the slaying of enemies is shown. However, such representations are symbolic in nature and therefore may not be indicative to political events.

In architecture, strong acquisitions from the Roman area are typically from about this time. The so-called ' Roman Kiosk' ( Naqa ) in which it is probably a small Temple of Hathor was built in a Greco-Roman, Meroitic mixed style and consists of eight columns with Corinthian capitals. The palace of the ruler in Napata ( 295 M ) was decorated on the walls with glazed round discs that were carried out in a purely Hellenistic style and show heads of Greek gods. They show how much Hellenistic art then penetrated into the everyday world. Almost identical glazed panes were found in the so-called Roman bath in Meroe, which was therefore perhaps also built by Natakamani. Finds from graves of this period show that many luxury goods, including even bronze statues were exported from the Mediterranean to Nubia. In the profane architecture there is a strong influence from the Hellenistic area. On the other hand, was again increasingly used Egyptian hieroglyphs at the temple and in the temple inscriptions. Interestingly, these inscriptions are written mostly in good Egyptian rather than as previously barely legible. It can be assumed that Natakamani craftsmen from the then Roman -ruled Egypt had come to Nubia. In the representations of the ruler can be found especially in terms of clothes, jewelry and regalia strong African elements. Although most temples representations are held in the Egyptian style, these pictures look surprisingly un - Egyptian primarily because of these elements. This impression is also further supported by the opulent body shapes in these images. Finally, one believes in the strong role of the queen Amanitore to find matriarchal African elements.

The co-regent

Appear on the images of the temple walls and inscriptions beside the ruler often two other individuals whose relationship to Natakamani is controversial. This is especially the queen Amanitore mentioned, which is depicted on numerous monuments on equal footing with him. On the pylon of the Lion Temple at Naga, they are both located opposite represented as slain enemies. Most has been assumed that it was a couple who together ruled the country. Recent studies, especially to the title Candace, but see in Amanitore rather the mother of the ruler, who led the government business for him, when he was still very young.

In addition to the rulers and Amanitore each another man appears, it is successively by the following persons: Arikancharora, Arakachatani and Shorakaror. These people write their name like a king in a cartridge and they also carry a throne name. From the position of this third figure as a companion to a royal couple, it was initially concluded that there must be a son and heir. However, this is not verifiable. These men were undoubtedly powerful individuals, but their position is unknown, with Amanitore probably was not her mother, because for Arikancharora is another mother certainly occupied, while for the other two no statements can be made. It has been suggested that it may have been to each of the highest -General or by a top minister under the king. For Shorakaror has been suggested that he ruled as its own ruler. This will be done so recently for less and less likely.


The temples of Natakamani found in almost all parts of the Meroitic Empire. Due to the dilapidated condition of most of the Meroitic temples but it is often not sure how this construction looked. In some places he seems to have built entirely new temple, at others he seems to have only added to his statues or small components to the existing temple.

Natakamani built with Shorakaror Amara in a Temple of Amun, in Tabo left the two set up a kiosk in the local Temple of Amun. The ruler was here probably also set up the two colossal statues found there. In the Temple of Amun of Napata was restored. There his name is curiously also something written differently than in the other hieroglyphic inscriptions. The Temple at Napata may have been renovated by the ruler, after he was a few years ago devastated in a campaign by the Romans. Another temple was built there by him and a dortiger palace which dates from his reign. In Meroe M 260 was built at the Temple of Amun. He was also a procession to the temple, which was flanked on both sides by small shrines set up. From other temples found in the town of scattered blocks and there were several palaces in the city renovated or newly built. Further south, work was carried out at the Temple of Duanib and especially many temple buildings date from Naqa: The Lion Temple, the Temple of Amun in which there were three bark subsets, various small statues or the so-called ' Roman Kiosk', which has recently been attributed to him. In Wad ban Naqa the temple of Isis comes from him. Hoer took a barge pedestal.

The Pyramid

The ruler was buried in Meroe in the pyramid Beg N22. On the wall of the local pyramid chapel found his name. The construction of the actual pyramid is only 8.92 x 8.92 m tall, with the entrance to the underground chambers in front of the building. 35 steps lead to a first space to the longitudinal walls are three niches. Behind it was the actual grave chamber. The grave was heavily robbed, as it was found. The pyramid seems small for this most important ruler of the Meroitic period, but this is probably not a result of lack of funds, but to a general reduction in the pyramid sizes from the first century AD. The kingship seems to have turned to other tasks as of this time.

The pyramid temple is only partially preserved, the walls are only in part and the ceiling is falling. Nevertheless, one can identify the most important scenes. On the south wall, so the back wall, you can see Natakamani as Osiris. Before him stands a priest behind him a goddess, probably Isis or Nephthys. On the west wall of the rulers sitting in front of an offering table before him, is again a priest and servant behind this come in several registers arranged and bring offerings. On the opposite wall is a virtually identical scene.


The exact chronology of Natakamani is uncertain and controversial. But he should have reigned in the first century. More recent considerations on the basis of paleography Meroitic inscriptions confirm this dating. As a starting point Amanirenas is thereby taken that could probably the Romans 25/24 defeat BC. According to her reigned, due paläografischer observations of the inscriptions of this time with some certainty Amanishakheto, Nawidemak and Amanichabale. Their precise government lengths are of course unknown, but it may be several decades, average values ​​based, rating, Natakamani which can be dated with certainty in the first century AD. With its great building activity can be assumed that he remained on the throne relatively long.

Successors and rating

Just as the origin and the predecessor of Natakamani are unknown, there are also difficulties to identify his successor. If Shorakaror reigned as King was this the successor, but his reign is doubtful as king. Due paläografischer considerations Amanichareqerem recently been proposed.

With Natakamani the last period of Meroitic history in which the kingdom ever more stripped the Egyptian tradition begins. The rulers after him are often poorly documented. This was often seen as a sign of a decline, but this may simply indicate a shift of the royal interests. Temples and pyramids in the Egyptian style, which still provide the main source for kingship represented diminished. In this context, the ruler even accused that he strained the resources of the country with its enormous construction activity. In the difficult source material for Meroitic history should, however, keep distance from such statements, especially since for Nubia in the following centuries, a great general prosperity is occupied.