During her reign, the armies of the Roman Emperor Augustus defeated Egypt under the rule of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony. By 31BC the Romans made Egypt a province of their Empire. These events are thought to have been seen as a threat by the Queen as Rome was an adversary with unknown intentions. (Note – what is known about the Roman conflict is only known from the Roman perspective as the Kushite account has not been deciphered as yet).
There seems to have been a short-lived period of peace between the Empires which was broken as a result of Prefect Cornelius Gallus’s heavy-handed response to unrest in Upper Egypt – rebellions motivated by a tax which spilled over into Kush territory in 29BC heightening distrust and tension between the territories.
In 27BC the tension developed into raiding and small-scale skirmishes which lasted until and the Prefect was replaced by a new one who took his legions to support the Roman invasion of Arabia.With Egypt’s defences weakened by the absence of the field armies, Amanirenas took the initiative and launched a large-scale surprise invasion of Lower Nubia and Upper Egypt in 24BCE with a 30,000 strong army.
The assault, commanded by Akinidad and Amanirenas, caught the Romans unprepared and Queen Amanirenas and her son captured a number of towns and forts as well as the religiously significant cities of Syene and Philae which marked the divide between the Dodekaschoinos and Egypt. It is thought the Queen lost her eye in battle around this period and Akinidad was killed in this battle.
The loss of one eye during the battle made Queen Amanirenas even stronger and braver. She did not fear death, and her fearlessness forced the admiration of Strabo who said, “this queen has courage above that of her gender.”
Ultimately, Amanirenas made the war too costly for the Romans to continue and after a climactic, but unsuccessful, final assault on Primis by Kush forces in 22BCE, the two sides sat down to negotiate peace. The historian Strabo describes the Roman Prefect as tired and disappointed, wondering the outcome of this impossible war in which the heat and Queen Amanirenas joined forces to harass his troops to no end.
Essentially, the peace agreement recognized a stalemate between Rome and Kush. Kandake Amanirenas had spared her people centuries of domination by successfully resisting complete conquest by Rome. Unlike other kingdoms on the edge of Roman Europe, Roman Africa, or Roman Asia, she did not cede large swaths of territory and never was forced to pay tribute or contribute material resources to Rome implying the peace treaty was written in the Queen’s favour.The peace treaty was signed between the Meroites and Augustus in the year 21/20 BC, which continued until the end of the third century AD, with relations between Meroë and Roman Egypt remaining generally peaceful during this time.Source