Narmer

Narmer

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Narmer was an ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

ian pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 of the Early Dynastic Period
Early Dynastic Period of Egypt
The Archaic or Early Dynastic Period of Egypt immediately follows the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt c. 3100 BC. It is generally taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from the Protodynastic Period of Egypt until about 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom...

 (c. 32nd century BCE
32nd century BC
-Events:* c. 3150 BC: Narmer started to rule in Ancient Egypt.* c. 3125 BC: Narmer died.* 3102 BC: The Beginning of Kali Yuga according to Vedic Scriptures....

). He is thought to be the successor to the Protodynastic pharaohs Scorpion
King Scorpion
Scorpion, or Selk, also King Scorpion or Scorpion II refers to the second of two kings so-named of Upper Egypt during the Protodynastic Period. Their names may refer to the scorpion goddess Serket...

 (or Selk) and/or Ka
Ka (Pharaoh)
Ka, also Sekhem Ka or Ka-Sekhen, was a Predynastic pharaoh of Upper Egypt.- Biography :Ka ruled over Abydos in the late 32nd or early 31st century BC, and was buried at Umm el-Qa'ab. He most likely was the immediate successor to Iry-Hor and was succeeded by Narmer...

, and he is considered by some to be the unifier of Egypt and founder of the First Dynasty
First dynasty of Egypt
The first dynasty of Ancient Egypt is often combined with the Dynasty II under the group title, Early Dynastic Period of Egypt...

, and therefore the first pharaoh of unified Egypt.

The identity of Narmer is the subject of ongoing debate, although mainstream Egyptological consensus identifies Narmer with the Protodynastic pharaoh Menes
Menes
Menes was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the early dynastic period, credited by classical tradition with having united Upper and Lower Egypt, and as the founder of the first dynasty ....

 (or "Merinar" reversing the 2 hieroglyphs which spell "Narmer"). Menes is also credited with the unification of Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, as the first pharaoh. This conclusion of joint identity is evidenced by different royal titularies in the archaeological and historical records, respectively.

Reign


The famous Narmer Palette
Narmer Palette
The Narmer Palette, also known as the Great ierakonpolis Palette or the Palette of Narmer, is a significant Egyptian archeological find, dating from about the 31st century BC, containing some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found. It is thought by some to depict the unification of...

, discovered in 1898 in Hierakonpolis, shows Narmer displaying the insignia of both Upper
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

 and Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

, giving rise to the theory that he unified the two kingdoms in c. 3100 BC.

The mainstream Egyptological consensus identifying Narmer with Menes is by no means universal. This has ramifications for the agreed history of ancient Egypt
History of Ancient Egypt
The History of Ancient Egypt spans the period from the early predynastic settlements of the northern Nile Valley to the Roman conquest in 30 BC...

. Some Egyptologists hold that Menes is the same person as Hor-Aha
Hor-Aha
Hor-Aha is considered the second pharaoh of the first dynasty of ancient Egypt in current Egyptology. He lived around the thirty-first century BC.- Name :...

 and that he inherited an already-unified Egypt from Narmer; others hold that Narmer began the process of unification but either did not succeed or succeeded only partially, leaving it to Menes to complete. Arguments have been made that Narmer is Menes because of his appearance on several ostraca in conjunction with the gameboard hieroglyph
Game piece (hieroglyph)
The ancient Egyptian Game piece , also a Token, or the general term for any gaming-gambling piece, Draughtsman is an ancient hieroglyph. Gaming pieces were certainly required in predynastic times, as the cultural creation of games and entertainment has a long history in most cultures...

 for "mn", which appears to be a contemporary record to the otherwise mythical king.

At the site of Nahal Tillah (see below), a pottery shard was found with the serekh
Serekh
In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a serekh is a rectangular enclosure representing the niched or gated façade of a palace surmounted by the Horus falcon, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name...

 of king Narmer, showing that the Egyptian kings had five royal names, one of which also included the signs for "mn" (Menes), without further title but adjacent to the Horus name for Narmer. This would lead to the conclusion that Menes' royal names included "Narmer". However, there are inconsistencies within every ostracon
Ostracon
An ostracon is a piece of pottery , usually broken off from a vase or other earthenware vessel. In archaeology, ostraca may contain scratched-in words or other forms of writing which may give clues as to the time when the piece was in use...

 which mentions Menes, precluding any definitive proof to his identity. The king lists recently found in the tombs of Den
Den (Pharaoh)
Den, also known as Hor-Den, Dewen and Udimu, is the Horus name of an early Egyptian king who ruled during the 1st dynasty. He is the best archaeologically attested ruler of this period. Den is said to have brought prosperity to his realm and numerous innovations are attributed to his reign...

 and Qa'a
Qa'a
-Legacy:Qa'a had a fairly large tomb in Abydos which measures 98.5 X 75.5 feet or 30 X 23 meters. Manetho gives him a reign of 26 years in his Epitome if this ruler was a certain Biechenes. A long reign is supported by the large size of this ruler's burial site at Abydos...

 both list Narmer as the founder of their dynasty, who was then followed by Hor-Aha (but Menes was absent).

Another equally plausible theory is that Narmer was an immediate successor to the king who did manage to unify Egypt (perhaps the King Scorpion whose name was found on a macehead also discovered in Hierakonpolis), but he adopted symbols of unification that had already been in use for perhaps a generation.

His wife is thought to have been Neithhotep
Neithhotep
Neithhotep was the first queen of ancient Egypt, cofounder of the First dynasty, and is the earliest woman in history whose name is known. The name Neithhotep means "[The Goddess] Neith is satisfied".- Biography :...

 (literally: "Neith
Neith
In Egyptian mythology, Neith was an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon. She was the patron deity of Sais, where her cult was centered in the Western Nile Delta of Egypt and attested as early as the First Dynasty...

 is satisfied"), a princess of northern Egypt. Inscriptions bearing her name were found in tombs belonging to Narmer's immediate successors Hor-Aha
Hor-Aha
Hor-Aha is considered the second pharaoh of the first dynasty of ancient Egypt in current Egyptology. He lived around the thirty-first century BC.- Name :...

 and Djer, implying that she was the mother of Hor-Aha.

Tomb and artifacts


Narmer's tomb is composed of two joined chambers (B17 and B18) found in the Umm el-Qa'ab
Umm el-Qa'ab
Umm el-Qa`āb is the necropolis of the Early Dynastic kings at Abydos, in Egypt. Its modern name means Mother of Pots, as the whole area is littered with the broken pot shards of offerings made in earlier times...

 region of Abydos
Abydos, Egypt
Abydos is one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt, and also of the eight Upper Nome, of which it was the capital city. It is located about 11 kilometres west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10' N, near the modern Egyptian towns of el-'Araba el Madfuna and al-Balyana...

. It is located near the tomb of Ka
Ka (Pharaoh)
Ka, also Sekhem Ka or Ka-Sekhen, was a Predynastic pharaoh of Upper Egypt.- Biography :Ka ruled over Abydos in the late 32nd or early 31st century BC, and was buried at Umm el-Qa'ab. He most likely was the immediate successor to Iry-Hor and was succeeded by Narmer...

, who ruled Thinis
Thinis
Thinis or This was the capital city of the first dynasties of ancient Egypt. Thinis is, as yet, undiscovered but well attested to by ancient writers, including the classical historian Manetho, who cites it as the centre of the Thinite Confederacy, a tribal confederation whose leader, Menes ,...

 just before him.

During the summer of 1994, excavators from the Nahal Tillah expedition, in southern Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, discovered an incised ceramic shard
Sherd
In archaeology, a sherd is commonly a historic or prehistoric fragment of pottery, although the term is occasionally used to refer to fragments of stone and glass vessels as well....

 (ostracon) with the serekh
Serekh
In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a serekh is a rectangular enclosure representing the niched or gated façade of a palace surmounted by the Horus falcon, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name...

 sign of Narmer, the same individual whose ceremonial slate palette
Narmer Palette
The Narmer Palette, also known as the Great ierakonpolis Palette or the Palette of Narmer, is a significant Egyptian archeological find, dating from about the 31st century BC, containing some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found. It is thought by some to depict the unification of...

 was found by James E. Quibell
James E. Quibell
James Edward Quibell was a British Egyptologist, born in Newport, Shropshire.He was educated at Adams' Grammar School and Christ Church, Oxford...

 in Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

. The ostracon was found on a large circular platform, possibly the foundations of a storage silo on the Halif Terrace. Dated to c.3000 BC, mineralogical studies of the shard conclude that it is a fragment of a wine jar which had been imported from the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 valley to Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

.

Narmer had Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 pottery produced in southern Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 — with his name stamped on vessels — and then exported back to Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Production sites included Tel Arad
Tel Arad
Tel Arad or 'old' Arad is located west of the Dead Sea, about 10 km west of modern Arad in an area surrounded by mountain ridges which is known as the Arad Plain. The site is divided into a lower city and an upper hill which holds the only ever discovered 'House of Yahweh' in the land of...

, Ein HaBesor
Ein HaBesor
Ein HaBesor is a moshav in southern Israel. Located in the Hevel Eshkol area of the north-western Negev desert near the border with the Gaza Strip and around a kilometre from Magen, it falls under the jurisdiction of Eshkol Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 684...

, Rafah
Rafah
Rafah , also known as Rafiah, is a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip. Located south of Gaza, Rafah's population of 71,003 is overwhelmingly made up of Palestinian refugees. Rafah camp and Tall as-Sultan form separate localities. Rafah is the district capital of the Rafah Governorate...

, and Tel Erani.