Egypt is famous for being the birthplace of some of the most beautiful artifacts in the world but one artifact, in particular, is considered to be more than an artifact but an actual piece of history. The Narmer Palette is a ceremonial engraving depicting the first dynasty king Narmer (Menes) defeating his enemies and uniting Upper and Lower Egypt into one kingdom. It also acts as a perfect example of the primitive artistic design of the 31st century BC. The Narmer palette acts as a reminder of the past time when ancient civilizations transformed into kingdoms and empires and seek to construct constructions that would stand the test of time and achieve immortality.
Narmer Palette Facts
The Narmer Palette is carved of a single piece of smooth grayish-green siltstone on both sides between 3200 BC and 3000 BC. The palette tells the story of the king’s Narmer victory in battle and his unification of Egypt after getting his approval from the holy gods of ancient Egypt. The palette is 63.5 CM (2.2 ft) in height and holds ambiguous scenes of king Menes which was very difficult to explain and interpret their correct meaning for a long time. The main purpose of the artwork is to act as a ritual object dedicated to the gods to show gratitude for this great unification. The palette was used on a daily basis in ancient Egypt for grinding and mixing minerals for cosmetics like dark eyeliner to reduce glare and during certain religious rituals.
Narmer Palette Description
The Narmer Palette was discovered in 1897 CE by British archaeologists at the temple of Horus in Nekhen. It held many scenes that were regarded as highly symbolic and the evidence to some of the oldest historical events ever. On the verso side of the palette, Narmer is portrayed wearing the red wicker war crown of upper Egypt which indicated that lower Egypt has fallen under his control. The largest engravings on the palette are two men interweaving the serpentine necks of unknown beasts called serpopards, this section of the palette is highly mysterious. At the bottom of the palette is king is shown as a bull breaking through the walls of the city using his horns and trampling his enemies beneath his hooves. There is also a priest wearing a leopard skin following 4 divine standards.
On the other side of the palette the recto side is a one complete cohesive of Narmer with his war gathering about to strike down an enemy captured by the hair and beneath his twp feet are two men either dead or attempting to escape his wrath, plus behind the king there is a bald servant holding his sandals while in front of him is the sky god Horus watching king Narmer’s victory and blessing it by bringing more and more enemy prisoners. Both sides of the palette are decorated at the very top with animal heads like cows and bulls which are associated with the goddess of celebration and joy Hathor that is depicted as a cow or a woman with a cow’s ears and the bull is a symbol of the king’s strength, vigor, and vitality.
Narmer Palette Symbolism
The level of the symbolism of Narmer palette is incredibly high with the use of different types of imagery which explain why it has been called the first historical document in the world. Most of the images indicate Narmer’s military intelligence and absolute power. The palette was able to confirm that Narmer was the true founder of united Egypt as he is shown wearing the white and red crown on different sides as the crowns indicate geographical significance. It also shows the level of unrest and chaos that spread all over the divided regions of Egypt before Narmer’s unification. The legacy is continued by his son Djoser who constructed the Saqqara step pyramid.