Narmer (c. 3150 BCE) was the initially king of Egypt who combined the nation peacefully at the start of the First Dynastic Period (c. 3150 - 2613 BCE). He has actually additionally, but, been cited as the last king of the Predynastic Period (c. 6000 - 3150 BCE) before the increase of a king named Menes who unified the nation via conquest. In the at an early stage days of Egyptology these monarchs were taken into consideration to be two various guys. Narmer was thshould have attempted unification at the end of one period and Menes to have actually thrived him, beginning the next era in Egyptian history.

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This theory came to be increasingly problematic as time went by and also little bit archaeological evidence supported Menes" existence while Narmer wtoo attested to in the archaeological record.The excellent Egyptologist Flinders Petrie (1853 - 1942 CE) declared Narmer and Menes as the first pharaoh of the First Dynasty in that the 2 names designated one man: Narmer was his name and Menes an honorific.

This very same expertise holds for the various other pharaoh associated with Menes, Hor-Aha (c. 3100 BCE), the second king of the First Empire that is additionally shelp to have joined Egypt under main dominion. If Hor-Aha was the leader who accomplished marriage of Upper and Lower Egypt, then `Menes" was ssuggest his honorific, meaning "he that endures". Some scholars claim tright here is no reason to argue over which of these kings may have joined Egypt as the nation wasn"t truly united until the power of Khasekhemwy (c. 2680 BCE), last king of the Second Dynasty and father of the king Djoser that began the Third Dynasty. This claim has been repeatedly challenged, yet, because tright here is clear proof of the king Den (c. 2990-2940 BCE) wearing the crown of Upper and also Lower Egypt, indicating unification under his regime. More significantly, the Narmer Palette (an old inscribed slab of siltstone) just as clearly shows Narmer wearing the battle crvery own of Upper Egypt and also the red wicker crvery own of Lower Egypt and so it is mostly welcomed that marriage first took location under the regime of the king Narmer.

Scholars currently believe the first king may have been Narmer that unified Upper and also Lower Egypt at some point c. 3150 BCE.

The Written Record & Unification

According to the chronology of Manetho (3rd century BCE), Menes was the first king of Egypt. He was a king of Upper Egypt perhaps from the city of Thinis (or Hierkanopolis), who overcame the various other city states approximately him and also then went on to overcome Lower Egypt. This king"s name is recognized primarily with created records such as Manetho"s chronology and the Turin King List, (however it is not corroborated by any comprehensive archaeological evidence), which is why scholars now believe the initially king might have actually been Narmer that peacefully united Upper and also Lower Egypt at some suggest c. 3150 BCE. This insurance claim of a calm marriage is contested owing to the Narmer Palette which depicts a king, positively identified as Narmer, as a armed forces number conquering a region which is clearly Lower Egypt. Historian Marc Van de Mieroop comments on this:

That Egypt was created with military means is a basic concept expressed in the art of the duration. A sizeable collection of rock objects, consisting of cermonial mace-heads and palettes, contain scenes of war and fighting between men, between animals, and also in between males and pets.Whereas in the past Egyptologists check out the scenes of war literally as documents of actual occasions, now they favor to watch them as stereotypical statements of kingship and also the king"s legitimacy (33).

This brand-new method of interpreting primitive inscriptions, however helpful some might think about it, does not expect such interpretations are precise. The debate versus such interpretations asks why, if these engravings are to be taken symbolically, others of later periods - such as those of Rameses the Great at the Battle of Kadesh - continue to be review literally as historic record. Van de Mieroop comments better, stating, "This brand-new method makes it impossible to day the marriage of Egypt or attribute it to a certain individual on the basis of these representations" (33-34) yet notes that, whatever before the instance regarding the first ruler, "the art of the duration reflects that the Egyptians connected unification via conflict" (34).


Scholar Douglas J. Brewer, on the various other hand, does not check out any kind of trouble in about the inscriptions symbolically. The name `Menes" suggests "He that endures" and, as provided above, could possibly be a title, not an individual name, in which instance tright here is no challenge in identifying the first king as Narmer "who endured". The name "Menes" has actually also been found on an cream color engraving from Naqada linked through Hor-Aha, which might expect the title was passed dvery own or that Hor-Aha was the first king. Brewer notes that these ancient engravings, such as the Narmer Palette, perpetuate "a culturally accepted scenario and, therefore, must probably be concerned as a monument commemorating an completed state of unity quite than depicting the procedure of marriage itself" (141). To scholars such as Brewer, the indicates through which unification came about are not as important as the reality of unification itself. The details of the event, favor those of any kind of nation"s beginnings, might have been mostly embellimelted upon by later on writers. Brewer writes:

Menes most likely never existed, at least as the individual responsible for all the attributed accomplishments. Rather he is many most likely a compilation of real-life individuals whose deeds were tape-recorded with dental tradition and also identified as the work-related of a single perkid, thereby producing a central hero number for Egypt"s unification. Like the individualities of the Holy bible, Menes was part fiction, component fact, and also the years have actually masked the borderline, producing a legend of unification (142).

Unification, Brewer (and others) insurance claim was "most most likely a slow procedure created by financial growth" (142). Upper Egypt appears to have been more prosperous and their wealth enabled them to systematically absorb the lands of reduced Egypt over time as they discovered they required more sources for their population and also for profession. Whether the king who united the country was Narmer or someamong an additional name, this king lay the structure for the climb of among the greatest human beings of the prehistoric human being. Flinders Petrie, and others following him, claim that whether Narmer unified Egypt by force is taken into consideration irpertinent in that it is nearly particular he had to preserve the kingdom with armed forces implies and also this would account for his depiction in inscriptions such as the Narmer Palette.

The Narmer Palette

The Narmer Palette (also well-known as Narmer"s Success Palette and the Great Hierakonpolis Palette) is an engraving, in the shape of a chevron shield, a little over two-feet (64 cm) tall, portraying Narmer dominating his opponents and also uniting Upper and Lower Egypt. It features some of the earliest heiroglyphics discovered to day. The palette is sculpted of a single piece of siltrock, frequently used for ceremonial tablets in the First Dynastic Period of Egypt, and tells the story of Narmer"s occupation c. 3150 BCE.

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Narmer Palette
Unrecognized Artist (Public Domain)

On one side, Narmer is illustrated wearing the battle crvery own of Upper Egypt and also the red wicker crvery own of Lower Egypt which signifies that Lower Egypt fell to him in conquest. Beneath this scene is the largest engraving on the palette of 2 men entwining the serpentine necks of unrecognized beasts. These creatures have been understood as representing Upper and also Lower Egypt but there is nopoint in this section to justify that interpretation. No one has actually conclusively construed what this section means. At the bottom of this side of the palette, the king is shown as a bull breaking via the walls of a city with his horns and trampling his opponents beneath his hooves.

The various other side of the palette (thought about the back side) is a single, cohesive picture of Narmer via his war club around to strike down an enemy he holds by the hair. Beneath his feet are 2 other guys either dead or attempting to escape his wrath. A bald servant stands behind the king holding his sandals while, in front of him and over his victim, the god Horus is illustrated watching over his victory and also blessing it by bringing him even more foe detainees.

The optimal of the palette is engraved with bull"s heads which some scholars interpret as the heads of cows. These scholars then interpret the cow heads to recurrent the goddess Hathor. It seems more sound to interpret the engravings as bull"s heads, however, considering that a bull is featured prominently on the palette and also would certainly signify the king"s strength and also vitality.

Narmer"s Palette

The Narmer Palette was uncovered in 1897-1898 CE by the British archaeologists Quibell and also Environment-friendly in the Temple of Horus at Nekhen (Hierakonpolis), which was among the early on resources of the First Empire of Egypt. As detailed above, it was considered an account of an actual historic event until fairly recently once it has pertained to be concerned as a symbolic engraving. There are many various theories concerning the palette and each seems quite reasonable till one hears the following and so, to day, tbelow is no consensus on what the inscription means or whether it relates to historical events. It seems clear, but, based on the age of the inscription and the imeras, that a good king called Narmer had actually somepoint to do via the unification of Egypt and also it is assumed that afterward he would have actually started his power.

Narmer"s Reign of a United Egypt

Prior to Narmer"s reign, Egypt was split right into the regions of Upper Egypt (the south) and also Lower Egypt (the north, closer to the Mediterranean Sea). Upper Egypt was even more urbanized via cities choose Thinis, Hierakonpolis, and Naqda arising reasonably quickly. Lower Egypt was even more rural (mainly speaking) with well-off agricultural areas stretching up from the Nile River. Both areas arisen steadily over thousands of years throughout the Predynastic Period of Egypt till profession via various other societies and also human beings resulted in enhanced breakthrough of Upper Egypt who then overcame its neighbor the majority of most likely for grains or other agricultural crops to feed the growing populace or to profession.


Once Narmer establiburned himself as supreme king he married the princess Neithhotep of Naqada in an alliance to strengthen ties between the 2 cities. Neithhotep"s tomb, found in the 1nine century CE, was so elaborate as to imply she was more than the king"s wife and some scholars case she may have actually ruled after Narmer"s death. Her name, inscribed in serakhs from the moment, supports this claim as execute other engravings but it is still not universally embraced.

Religious practices and iconography arisen throughout Narmer"s regime and signs such as the Djed (the four-tiered pillar representing stability) and the Ankh (symbol of life) appear even more commonly at this time. He led military expeditions with lower Egypt to put down rebellions and also broadened his region right into Canaan and also Nubia. He initiated huge building projects and also under his preeminence urbanization raised.

The cities of Egypt never before got to the magnitude of those in Mesopotamia possibly owing to the Egyptians" recognition of the risks such breakthrough posed. Mesopotamian cities were mainly abandoned due to overusage of the land and also pollution of the water supply while Egyptian cities, such as Xois (to select a random example), existed for millenia. Although later on advances in urban development ensured the cities" extension, the early on efforts of queens prefer Narmer would certainly have actually offered the version.

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Details of his reign are vague owing to the lack of documents found to day and also, as detailed over, the challenge in interpreting those engravings which have actually been found and positively determined as relating to Narmer. As much as deserve to be discerned, yet, he was a great king who established a dynasty which would certainly lay the foundation for all that Egypt would certainly ultimately come to be.

Editorial ReviewThis post has been reviewed for accuracy, relicapacity and adherence to scholastic standards prior to publication.


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A freelance writer and former part-time Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J. Mark has stayed in Greece and Germany and traveled with Egypt. He has actually taught history, composing, literary works, and also ideology at the college level.