7 – Rome & the Kush Kingdom (23 BC – 100 AD)
According to the Roman historian Strabo, there was a war between the Kushites and Rome in the 1st century BC. After the Kushites sacked Aswan and captured the statue of Augustus, the Romans retaliated by sending the prefect of Roman Egypt, Petronius, on an expedition into the heart of the kingdom. He captured Napata in 23 BC and soon, a permanent garrison was established at Primis which was strong enough to hold off the Kushites.
Although Napata was in Roman hands, the Queen of the Kushites, Teriteqas (50 BC? – 1 BC?) was not intimidated by the enemy and continued to fight. Within a few years of the capture of Napata, the Kushites sent a large force towards Primis with the intention of attacking and defeating the Romans. Petronius learned of the invasion and bolstered the garrison with a strong force. There is no record of the ensuing battle, but ancient sources say that the Kushites sent ambassadors to Petronius to negotiate a peace treaty.
Whatever happened during the battle, Petronius wasn’t keen to engage the enemy in another fight, so the Kushites were able to negotiate a settlement on favorable terms; this fact suggests that they caused the Romans a lot of problems. By the end of the first century BC, trade between the two increased and historians such as Theodore Mommsen believe that Nubia was a client state of the Roman Empire during the reign of Emperor Augustus when Amanitore was the queen of the Nubians.
However, the Romans continued to be intrigued by Nubia and during the reign of Nero, two centurions were sent up the Nile, but they concluded that the land was too poor to be worth conquering. Had they decided that the land was fertile enough, it is probable that Nero would have launched another invasion in the 60s AD. The fact that the land was seemingly infertile suggests that the Kush Kingdom has already begun its decline.