The Narmer Palette

Here is the Narmer Palette, a marvel more than five thousand years old.

Narmer_Palette 1

The largest figure is of course the King, appearing as in Egyptian art for millennia after: the head is side on, one eye looking directly outwards; the torso faces us, and the legs walk to one side. Above him are two human-faced bovine heads, perhaps the Goddess Bat, whose horns provide the shape: between them is a Serekh of the King’s name. The falcon Horus with a human left hand pulls up the nose of an enemy. The King holds a kneeling enemy by the hair, hand upraised to strike. Men sprawl dead at his feet.


The King processes with standard bearers towards bound corpses, laid out ritually, their heads placed between their ankles. The ship, falcon and harpoon may be their city. The long necked lions are common in Mesopotamian art from 3500-3000 BCE, as well as ancient Egypt: I love the movement of their confrontation, contrasting with the circle- symbol of Eternity?- formed by their necks.

I saw it in Alastair Sooke’s Treasures of Ancient Egypt, and got the picture and much of the description from Wikipedia.

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