King Narmer




Egypt emerged out from prehistory around 3200 BC, with the remarkable discovery of an artifact known as the "Narmer Palette," which dates to the period. This very special artifact was discovered almost pristinely preserved. Renowned Egyptologist Bob Brier has claimed the Narmer Palette to be the "first known historical document." The palette depicts King Narmer in the process of smiting his enemy, as well as two fantastical beasts with long necks intertwined. These two scenes are understood to be a commemoration of the conquest and forcible unification of northern and southern Egyptian peoples. The result of these events is what Professor Brier calls the "first nation in history."

Even at this very early date, the Narmer Palette is rich with what would become classically Egyptian artistic conventions, evidencing an artistic tradition which would remain remarkably stable for the next three millennia. The Narmer palette is thought to have been a ceremonial object, resembling those functional palettes used for the grinding of cosmetics. One theory is that the Narmer Palette may have been used by Egyptian high priests in applying eye makeup to the statues of the gods which were kept in the sacred "holy of holies" chamber of Egyptian temples.

Source: Brier, Bob. Long Island University. The History of Ancient Egypt. The Great Courses, 1999.

King Narmer Smiting. Narmer Palette T Shirt.

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