Narmer Palette: An Annotated Bibliography

The following sample Art History annotated bibliography is 1975 words long, in MLA format, and written at the undergraduate level. It has been downloaded 502 times and is available for you to use, free of charge.

Annotated Bibliography

Amiran, Ruth. "Note on One Sign in the Narmer Palette." Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 7 (1968): 127. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.

Amiran discusses a specific symbol, the falcon, in the Narmer’s Palette, and its significance in documenting the accuracy of bloodshed in the formation of Egyptian history. The author indicates that the royal falcon, which is located on the reverse of the Narmer’s Palette, in the lowest register, balances six kha plants on one side and the falcon’s holding of a rope, symbolizing a human arm, on the other. It is said that this sign/image is indicative of the King holding 6000 captives of enemies. However, Amiran believes that there are reasons to believe only 2000 were slain from the enemy town due to two figure images below the falcon, a fortress and two long streamers. It is believed that since the kha plant is indicative of 1000 slain, both imprinted on the top and the bottom of the sign, and along with the two lying figures, is symbolic of 2000 bodies slain.

Brass, Michael. "Tracing the Origins of the Ancient Egyptian Cattle Cult." Academia (2002): n.p. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.

Michael points to several characteristics of the Narmer’s Palette as being distinctly influenced by predecessors in its stylistic imagery and references. One such reference is the identification of cow heads on either side of the top of the palette as the goddess of Bat. The goddess of Bat was considered the seventh nome in Upper Egypt. Goddess of Bat was primarily considered to be a phenomenon that was first referenced around the 6th Dynasty. The author argues that the goddess could also be interpreted as Hathor, who also appeared relatively late in the Egyptian history timeline – in a temple of Hathor at Gebelein during the late 2nd dynasty. As such, it is believed that commemorative object, like the Narmer’s Palette, was built on works of earlier commemorative pieces. It is believed that Narmer’s Palette was a combination of commemorative “hieroglyphic writing with the basic iconography of evolving kingship.”

El-Shahawy, Abeer, and Farid S. Atiya. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo: A Walk Through the Alleys of Ancient Egypt. Cairo, Egypt: Farid Atiya Press, 2005. Print.

In this book, El-Shahawy gives a historical backdrop of the artifact and its implications. El-Shahawy points out that since Narmer was the first of the eight kings of the First Dynasty, hence the Narmer Palette is an important relic of the Archaic Period in the Egyptian history. Further findings from three registers on one side of the Narmer Palette and four registers on the back show possible indication that King Narmer founded the First Dynasty, and he is the king, as evidenced by his name appearing on the seals of excavations found from the rulings of Den and Qaa. In El-Shahawy’s opinion, the Narmer Palette documents the struggle of northern and southern territorial conflicts in the country on both sides of the artifact, and how the king resides above the papyrus representing the lower Egypitan delta region, signaling the king’s supremacy over the two parts of the region and triumph over enemies.

Kleiner, Fred S., and Christin J. Mamiya. Gardner's Art through the Ages. 12th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2005. (fig.3-2, p.58)

In the description piece of this relic, Narmer Palette, it was believed that ancient Egyptians began their history with the unification of two lands, brought about by the First Dynasty pharaoh Menes, also identified as King Narmer. This artifact, the Narmer Palette, was found at the historical site of Hierakonopolis. Narmer’s Palette, as explained in the description, was thought to document the predynastic period and to have introduced the historical period in Egypt. It also makes the correlation of the Narmer’s Palette as a formulaic blueprint for documenting and figure representations in Egyptian art for subsequent three millennia. A descriptive element of the artifact, involving two heads of the goddess Hathor, represents each side of the palette. It has also been thought that when King Narmer wore the high, white, bowling pin by an official carrying his sandals, it has set the example for generations to come, with the motif of triumphant godlike kings, slaying enemies at his feet.

Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.

The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, published by Shaw, emphasizes on the warfare and conquest aspect of the Narmer’s Palette in the formation of a unified Egypt in the 2nd Dynasty. Shaw proposes warfare forged early states in Egypt in the First Dynasty as it expanded from the delta region into Lower Nubia and southern Palestine. It is also speculated that the 1st Dynasty appeared suddenly and was introduced by an invading foreign “race.” Furthermore, since the Narmer Palette was found along with the Scorpion Macehead, other ceremonial palettes that were considered stylistically earlier, it is believed that Narmer ruled at a later dynasty. Hence, it is possible that the Narmer’s Palette is indicative of an indigenous, upper Egyptian root that grew to become Egypt in the forces forming its First Dynasty prior to Narmer’s dominance. The dynastic cult temples depicted in the Narmers’ Palette is also believed to serve funerary complexes and integrate the society through shared belief in deities of early dynastic Egyptians.

Suelzle, Benjamin. "An Evaluation of Two Recent Theories Concerning the Narmer Palette." Eras (2006): 30. Web.

In this article, Suelzle defines and evaluates speculations on the historical importance of the Narmer Palette through the two divergent arguments explored by two scholars, Alan R. Schulman and Jan Assmann. These two arguments stand in complete opposition to each other. Schulman argues from the scenes depicted in Narmer Palette as a symbolic repetition of a previous historical event which occurred at a point in time well before Narmer ascended to the Egyptian throne. In this argument, it is believed that King Narmer was not the first legitimate king of the first dynasty. Moreover, it linked Narmer’s rule with military exploits from a royal predecessor. Assmann’s argument, on the other hand, stressed the fact that the Narmer Palette is one of the most important artifacts in history, documenting the violent unification of Egypt from the start of the dynasties. Here, King Narmer was thought to conquer and bring about political unification the Delta region through arms and military potency.

"The Narmer Palette." Middle Egyptian Grammar through Literature. Rutgers, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.

This paper examines the grammatical structure in which transpires the Narmer Palette in its role of documenting the event, whether it is a commemorative or related to the aspirations of Pharaoh Narmer. It was pointed out that the event involves King Narmer in a procession, where is he adorned with Lower Egypt’s Red Crown. Since King Narmer is portrayed to be barefoot, along with the rest of his royal attendants and sandal-bearers, the paper suggests that the ground is sacred. In this procession, the King is headed towards “two rows of decapitated and bound enemies,” suggesting that it is a victory celebration along with four sandal-bearers who are believed to be nomes of gods, two were identified as Wepwawet and Horus. Since the king is adorned in the Red Crown of Lower Egypt, this paper makes the assertion that he personifies the sun god, Re, and is protected by Horus and Wewawet.

Verner, Miroslav. The Pyramids: The Mystery Culture, and Science of Egypt's Great Monuments. New York: Grove Press, 2001. Print.

Verner discusses the role in Narmer’s Palette as a successful symbol in depicting the ruler’s success of putting down a rebellion in the delta region. The Narmer’s Palette is made of dark grey slate and found near Hierakonopolis, and is thought to be memorial and celebratorial in nature. Through Narmer’s Palette, Verner speculated that the white house depicted the fortified residence of the Egyptian kings, which were non-existent before the First Dynasty due to the biennial “Horus-procession” journeys for tax collection and administering justice. It was not until the First Dynasty in Egypt that people began experiencing increasing centralization in administration and royal family hierarchy. Through such successes, a successful irrigation system was instituted, along with flood control, cultivation of agriculture, and the tax system. The First Dynasty was also speculated by Verner to have been the time that writing was developed, through the consolidation of governmental administration and unification of the two lands.

West, John A. The Traveler's Key to Ancient Egypt: A Guide to the Sacred Places of Ancient Egypt. Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Pub. House, 1995. Print.

West challenges the idea that the Palette of Narmer supports the concept of Narmer being the legendary Menes, founder of the 1st Dynasty. West alleges that the striking features of the Narmer’s Palette, with combination of Egyptian and foreign elements of Asiatic characteristics, can be dated back to the 1500 B.C. While West acknowledges that the Palette of Narmer cannot be correctly dated in the chronology of Egyptian history, where Petrie dated the artifact based on finding it at Abydos, the Asiatic influence is an unmistakable indicator of its being produced at an earlier time. It is said that the Narmer Palette’s affiliation with the Hittite Invasion took place around 1500 B.C. Further evidence lie in the hieroglyph of the Narmer Palette, specifically, the little jug carried by the sandal-bearer behind King Narmer. It is said that the jugs were of a Mesopotamian design, produced in the 1500 B.C. era.

Yadin, Yigael. "The Earliest Record of Egypt's Military Penetration into Asia? Some Aspects of the Narmer Palette, the 'Desert Kites' and Mesopotamian Seal Cylinders." Israel Exploration Journal 5.1 (1955): 16. Web.

Yadin’s article acknowledges that the intertwined serpent-necked lions in subjugated positions on the Narmer Palette as one of the most important documents of recorded history in Egypt. The article pose that certain hieroglyphic signs on the Narmer Palette has actual indication to the enclosures east of the areas of Trans-Jordan, also described as “kites” due to the aerial depiction of the shape when seen from the air. The finding is significant as parts of the palette may record the subjugation of the region near the highway between Trans-Jordan, also known as the land of kites. With this premise, it is then assumed by Yadin that not all of the scenes depicted on Narmer’s Palette are made to unify the Nile Valley, but rather the King entrenching upon enemy territories. The motif of the serpent-like necks of the animals in the Narmer’s Palette is found to be Mesopotamian in nature, and hence, denotes the end of war.

Works Cited

Amiran, Ruth. "Note on One Sign in the Narmer Palette." Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 7 (1968): 127. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.

Brass, Michael. "Tracing the Origins of the Ancient Egyptian Cattle Cult." Academia (2002): n.p. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.

El-Shahawy, Abeer, and Farid S. Atiya. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo: A Walk Through the Alleys of Ancient Egypt. Cairo, Egypt: Farid Atiya Press, 2005. Print.

Kleiner, Fred S., and Christin J. Mamiya. Gardner's Art through the Ages. 12th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2005. (fig.3-2, p.58)

Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Print.

Suelzle, Benjamin. "An Evaluation of Two Recent Theories Concerning the Narmer Palette." Eras (2006): 30. Web.

"The Narmer Palette." Middle Egyptian Grammar through Literature. Rutgers, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.

Verner, Miroslav. The Pyramids: The Mystery Culture, and Science of Egypt's Great Monuments. New York: Grove Press, 2001. Print.

West, John A. The Traveler's Key to Ancient Egypt: A Guide to the Sacred Places of Ancient Egypt. Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Pub. House, 1995. Print.

Yadin, Yigael. "The Earliest Record of Egypt's Military Penetration into Asia? Some Aspects of the Narmer Palette, the 'Desert Kites' and Mesopotamian Seal Cylinders." Israel Exploration Journal 5.1 (1955): 16. Web.