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Image of Narmer from the Narmer Palette.

Narmer was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period (c. 32nd century BCE). Thought to be the successor to the Protodynastic pharaohs Scorpion (or Selk) and/or Ka, he is considered by some to be the unifier of Egypt and founder of the First Dynasty, and therefore the first pharaoh of all Egypt.

The identity of Narmer is the subject of ongoing debate, although mainstream Egyptological consensus[1][2][3] identifies Narmer with the Protodynastic pharaoh Menes (also credited with the unification of Egypt) as the first pharaoh, evidenced by different royal titularies in the archaeological and historical records, respectively.

Name and identity

The commonly-used name Narmer is a rendering of the pharaoh's Horus-name, an element of the royal titulary associated with the god Horus, and is more fully given Hor(us) Narmeru or Hor(us) Merinar.[1][4]

In Egyptian hieroglyphs, Narmer is represented phonetically by the hieroglyphs catfish (n'r) and chisel (mr).

Narmer and Menes

For the Early Dynastic Period, the archaeological record refers to the pharaohs by their Horus-names, while the historical record, as evidenced in the Turin and Abydos king lists, uses an alternative royal titulary, the nebty-name.[1][2] The different titular elements of a pharaoh's name were often used in isolation, for brevity's sake, although the choice varied according to circumstance and period.[2]

Mainstream Egyptological consensus follows the findings of Petrie in reconciling the two records and connects the Horus-name Narmer (archaeological) with the nebty-name Menes (historical).[1][2][3] Lloyd (1994) finds this identification "extremely probable",[2] and Cervelló-Autuori (2003) categorically states that "Menes is Narmer and the First Dynasty begins with him".[3]


The famous Narmer Palette, discovered in 1898 in Hierakonpolis, shows Narmer displaying the insignia of both Upper and Lower Egypt, giving rise to the theory that he unified the two kingdoms in c. 3100 BCE.[5]

The mainstream Egyptological consensus identifying Narmer with Menes is by no means universal. This has ramifications for the agreed history of ancient Egypt. Some Egyptologists hold that Menes is the same person as Hor-Aha and that he inherited an already-unified Egypt from Narmer;[6] 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, mn, which appears to be a contemporary record to the otherwise mythical king.[7]

At the site of Nahal Tillah (see below) a pottery shard was found with the serekh 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 of Narmer. This would lead to the conclusion that Menes' royal names included Narmer. However, there are inconsistencies within every ostracon which mentions Menes, precluding any definitive proof to his identity.[8] The king lists recently found in the tombs of Den and Qa'a both list Narmer as the founder of their dynasty, who was then followed by Hor-Aha (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), and adopted symbols of unification that had already been in use for perhaps a generation.

His wife is thought to have been Neithhotep (literally: "Neith is satisfied"), a princess of northern Egypt. Inscriptions bearing her name were found in tombs belonging to Narmer's immediate successors Hor-Aha and Djer, implying that she was the mother of Hor-Aha.

Tomb and artifacts

His tomb is composed of two joined chambers (B17 and B18) found in the Umm el-Qa'ab region of Abydos. It is located near Ka's tomb who ruled Thinis just before him.

During the summer of 1994, excavators from the Nahal Tillah expedition in southern Israel discovered an incised ceramic shard (ostracon) with the serekh sign of Narmer, the same individual whose ceremonial slate palette was found by James E. Quibell in Upper 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 valley to Canaan.

Narmer had Egyptian pottery produced in southern Canaan — with his name stamped on vessels — and then exported back to Egypt.[9] Production sites included Tel Arad, Ein HaBesor, Rafah and Tel Erani.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Edwards 1971: 13
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Lloyd 1994: 7
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Cervelló-Autuori 2003: 174
  4. Narmer: Titulary
  5. Shaw, op.cit. p.196
  6. Gardiner, op.cit. p.405
  7. Gardiner, op.cit.
  8. Gardiner, op.cit.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Naomi Porat, "Local Industry of Egyptian Pottery in Southern Palestine During the Early Bronze I Period", in Bulletin of the Egyptological, Seminar 8 (1986/1987), pp. 109-129.


This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Narmer. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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